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Diamond Hogs Collide with Georgia in SEC Rumble at Foley Field

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Diamond Hogs Collide with Georgia in SEC Rumble at Foley Field

Arkansas Razorbacks (30-10, 11-4)

vs.

Georgia Bulldogs (13-24, 5-10)

Foley Field • Athens, Ga.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Fri: Cox Sports TV • Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 41: #9 Arkansas at Georgia

Friday, April 20, 5:37 p.m. (CDT) – Foley Field (CST)

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (8-0, 2.22 ERA)

UGA: 42 Stephen Dodson, RHP (3-4, 1.88 ERA)

Game 42: #9 Arkansas at Georgia

Saturday, April 21, 1 p.m. – Foley Field

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (5-2, 2.91 ERA)

UGA: 17 Trevor Holder, RHP (0-2, 3.82 ERA)

Game 43: #9 Arkansas at Georgia

Sunday, April 22, Noon – Foley Field

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 28 Jess Todd, RHP (4-2, 4.43 ERA)

UGA: 28 Dean Weaver, RHP (1-2, 6.85 ERA)

Diamond Hogs Collide With Georgia is SEC Rumble at Foley Field

No. 9 Arkansas makes its first trip to Athens, Ga., under fifth-year skipper Dave Van Horns as the Razorbacks take on Georgia in a three-game SEC tilt at Foley Field this weekend.

The series opens at 5:37 p.m. (CDT) Friday and will be broadcast on Cox Sports Television (channel 119 in NW Arkansas) with Mike Nail (play-by-play) and Ron Swoboda (color) calling the action. The second game Saturday is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch with Sunday’s finale at noon.

All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett on the play-by-play. The final two games of the series can also be seen live inside the the RazorZone at Hogwired.com, courtesy of the Georgia Athletic Department.

The Razorbacks enter the series on a six-game winning streak. UA boasts a 30-10 overall record and an SEC-best 11-4 league record. The Bulldogs are 13-24 on the season and sixth in the SEC East with a 5-10 conference mark after advancing to the College World Series last season.

Arkansas leads the all-time series between the two teams by a 15-9 margin after UGA took the series in Fayetteville last season with wins on Friday and Saturday. Georgia holds a 5-3 edge in the all-time series in Athens, winning the first two in the Hogs’ last trip to Foley Field in 2002.

Nick Schmidt returns to his comfortable Friday spot in the Razorbacks’ rotation. The left-hander is 8-0 on the season with a 2.22 ERA, including a 4-0 record in conference play. The Bulldogs will counter with right-hander Stephen Dodson, who is 3-4 on the year with the second-best ERA in the SEC at 1.88.

Saturday’s contest will pit two right-handers in the Hogs’ Duke Welker and UGA’s Trevor Holder. Welker (5-2, 2.91 ERA) has been dominant during league play with the fourth-best ERA in the league at 2.00. Holder will be making his sixth start of the year with a 0-2 record and a 3.82 ERA.

Arkansas will send RHP Jess Todd to the mound for Sunday’s finale. He is 4-2 on the year with a 4.43 ERA and leads the country in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.28. Georgia will start right-hander Dean Weaver. He is making his sixth start with a 1-2 record and a 6.85 ERA.

Leading Off …

The Razorbacks travel to Georgia’s Foley Field for the first time since 2002 for a three-game SEC series this weekend. Arkansas leads the all-time series 15-9, but the Bulldogs hold a 5-3 edge in Athens. It is UA head coach Dave Van Horn’s first trip to Georgia. He is 3-3 vs. the Bulldogs in Fayetteville.

The Hogs have reeled off six straight wins and 11 of their last 13. Arkansas leads the SEC overall chase by two games over Vanderbilt (9-6), South Carolina (9-6) and Mississippi State (8-5).

The Razorbacks are hitting .316 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with an impressive .421 (16 for 38) average while Logan Forsythe is close behind at .388 with Jeff Nutt at .357. Danny Hamblin has his average all the way up to .341 (14 for 41).

UA has also been impressive with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .307 with two down with 106 two-out RBI. Casey Coon leads the way with 13 two-out RBI while Logan Forsythe and Brian Walker have 12. Jake Dugger is hitting a team-best .395 with two outs while Coon is at .382 and Forsythe at .375.

The Hogs are 2-1 in games played on TV this season, after taking both games on Cox Sports Television last weekend and dropping a game to Louisiana Tech in Ruston on Feb. 3.

Arkansas has been hit by an amazing 74 pitches in 40 games this season (1.85 per game). The mark already ranks tied for fourth in school history and leads the SEC this season.

The Hogs rank second in on-base percentage (.408) in the SEC and second in runs scored (344) and doubles (94). In SEC games only, UA ranks second in batting average (.312), first in on-base percentage (.415), doubles (41) and second in runs scored (119).

Forsythe has been one of the hottest Razorbacks at the plate. He has hit in all 15 SEC games this season with a .406 batting average (4th in the SEC) and in 31 of his last 35 games overall. He leads the team with a .363 batting average and .432 on-base percentage. Forsythe has career-bests with six home runs, 11 doubles and 37 RBI.

Casey Coon’s 46 RBI rank second in the SEC while Danny Hamblin has moved into a tie for seventh in the league with 40.

Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with 11 home runs that ranks fourth in the league. Arkansas’ 48 home runs as a team ranks third in the SEC. Hamblin earned SEC Hitter of the Week honors after batting .462 with two home runs and eight RBI vs. Florida last weekend.

Nick Schmidt claimed his fourth-career SEC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game victory at Tennessee on Friday, March 30. Jess Todd was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week after earning two wins over then-No. 1 Vanderbilt.

The first NCAA rankings of the year were released on Wednesday with Arkansas right-hander Jess Todd leading the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.28. He has 60 Ks in 40.2 innings this season. Nick Schmidt’s 73 Ks rank 21st while his eight wins rank tied for seventh.

Danny Hamblin’s 196 career RBI rank third all time at Arkansas. He is eight shy of Jeff King (204) and 37 behind record holder Ryan Lundquist (233).

As a team, the Hogs fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.2); 10th in scoring at 8.4; tied for 15th in home runs per game (1.23); 18th in doubles (2.38).

The Hogs notched their second shutout of the season on Wednesday, April 11 vs. Missouri State with a 2-0 win. Chris Rhoads, Dallas Keuchel, Brian McLelland and Travis Hill combined to allow just four hits – two bunt hits – and strikeout 11 with one walk.

The UA pitching staff has an impressive 2.17 ERA during the current six game winning streak with a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Hogs’ staff is averaging 10.33 Ks per nine innings during that span and a .227 opponent batting average.

• The Arkansas pitching staff leads the league with a 3.67 ERA during SEC play. The offense has been pretty good too, ranking second in runs scored (119) and second in batting average (.312).

Arkansas is 2-0 this season in extra inning games and has not gotten a single hit in extra innings. UA benefited from a error, intentional walk and a fielder choice to beat Illinois State. UA then beat Vandy in 10 innings when Sean Jones scored from second on a sacrifice fly deep into the right-center field gap after reaching base on a hit by pitch.

Shaun Seibert injured this right elbow in the fourth inning on Sunday, March 11, and will be out for the season. He will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday, March 22.

• Hamblin is ranked as the No. 13 senior prospect by Baseball America.

• Schmidt is ranked as the No. 13 pro prospect by Baseball America in their top 100 college prospects list. Duke Welker is ranked No. 70 on that list while Jess Todd comes in at No. 73.

• Todd and Welker rank as the No. 3 and No. 5 transfers in college baseball this season by Baseball America.

Scouting the Bulldogs

Georgia enters the weekend with a 13-24 overall record after dropping midweek game to Georgia Tech. UGA has a 5-10 mark in SEC games that ranks sixth in the SEC East and 11th in the overall league standings. However, David Perno’s club is still loaded with talent, especially on the mound where the Dogs’ boast a 3.86 ERA.

The Bulldogs will send a trio of right-handers to the mound led by Stephen Dodson. The sophomore will start on Friday opposite Nick Schmidt and has the No. 2 ERA in the league at 1.88 and a 3-4 record. Sophomore Trevor Holder will start on Saturday with a 0-2 record with a strong 3.82 ERA in 37.2 innings. He has struck out 32 with an opponent batting average of .279. Freshman Dean Weaver goes to the hill on Sunday with a 1-2 mark and a team-high 6.85 ERA in 23.2 innings. It is his sixth start of the season with opponents hitting .337.

The Georgia offense ranks 11th in the league with a .266 overall batting average and 12th in SEC games at .249. UGA is scoring 4.4 runs per game. Jonathan Wyatt leads the offense with a .308 average and is the only Bulldog above the .300 mark. Sophomore shortstop Gordon Beckham leads the power categories with eight home runs and 32 RBI.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (8-0, 2.22 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his 12th start of the season on Friday night against the Bulldogs. He is coming off of his eighth win of the season last week against Florida. He became Arkansas’ all-time leader strikeouts vs. the Gators with seven strikeouts to give him 300 and seven in his career. Schmidt passed Matt Carnes (1995-97) who finished his career with 301 strikeouts. His 2.22 ERA ranks third in the SEC, while his eight wins are the most. He is third in opponent batting average (.191) and third in innings pitched (73.0). Schmidt boasts an 0-1 career record against Georgia with a 2.57 ERA and 13 strikeouts in one start last season. More information: See Page 14.

Saturday – RHP Duke Welker (5-2, 2.91 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make also make his 12th start of the season after a dominating 8.1-inning performance in a win over Florida. He took a no-hitter into the seven, but two doubles and two runs in the inning cost him the game in a 2-1 loss. Opponents are hitting an SEC-low .183 off the right-hander. Two weeks ago, Welker took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but took the hard-luck loss after allowing two runs on two doubles in the seventh. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a good breaking ball. More information: See Page 15.

Sunday – RHP Jess Todd (4-2, 4.43 ERA): Jess Todd is slated to make hits fourth start of the season and his third in SEC play on Sunday. He struck out 10 Gators in five inning, allowing just two runs – both after he left the game. He is 4-2 on the season with a 4.43 ERA in 40.2 innings of work and two saves. Todd leads the nation strikeouts per nine with 13.28. He has struck out 60 and walked just 13. More information: See Page 16. Additional info on Dallas Keuchel, who could start on Sunday if Todd makes any relief appearances on Friday or Saturday, is also available on page 17.

Forsythe Finds a Home

In and out of the lineup over the first two weekends of the season, Logan Forsythe’s name is penciled in on an everyday basis these days. Maybe the best defensive third baseman in the SEC, entering the season his bat was a question mark after hitting just .189 as a true freshman.

He has dispelled any questions about his bat over the last month and enters the Georgia series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasts a .943 fielding percentage at third base this season with four errors in 71 chances, all coming on throws.

Forsythe has a .363 batting average, six home runs and a career-best 37 RBI. He leads the team in slugging percentage at .578, is also first on the team in on-base percentage at .432, and stolen bases (9) and has hit safely in 31 of the Hogs last 35 games and is all 15 SEC games this season.

Nick Schmidt at it Again

Junior Nick Schmidt continues to prove why he is one of the best pitchers in college baseball. The left-hander from St. Louis is constantly overlooked, but the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year is at it again with a 8-0 record and a 2.22 ERA this season.

Schmidt had a streak of 17-consecutive scoreless innings snapped in the first inning at Kentucky. He took a no decision after seven-solid innings against No. 1 Vanderbilt on March 23 and left with a 7-5 lead. Schmidt fanned 11 against the Golden Gophers for his 10th career double-digit strikeout game in early March. He broke the UA strikeout with seven strikeouts against Florida on April 14, passing Matt Carnes mark of 301 from 1995-97.

It will be Schmidt’s second career start against Georgia. He is 0-1 against the Bulldogs with a 2.57 ERA and 13 strikeouts in seven innings of work.

Schmidt/Welker A Dangerous Duo

Juniors Nick Schmidt and Duke Welker have developed into a dangerous duo at the top of the Razorbacks’ weekend rotation. The pair have combined for an 14-2 record and 124 strikeouts this season (73 for Schmidt and 51 for Welker).

Schmidt is 8-0 while Welker has absorbed two tough-luck losses to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State with wins over Kentucky and Florida for a 2-2 record with a 2.91 overall ERA. He has a 2.00 ERA in SEC games.

Both rank at the top of the SEC’s opponent batting average list with a .183 average for Welker and a .193 average for Schmidt. Welker has been even tougher in SEC play with a .171 opponent batting average.

Hamblin Getting Hot

Danny Hamblin had had a tough time getting the hits to fall in early in the season as he got off to a terrible start with a .119 batting average (5 for 42) at the beginning of March. But the senior continued to drive in runs when he could and has things head in the right direction.

He has caught fiver over the last 23 games, hitting .357 with eight doubles, 10 home runs and 30 RBI to raise his average to .271. That average goes up to .339 in conference play, including six doubles, five home runs and 15 RBI. Hamblin is second on the team and tied for seventh in the SEC with 40 RBI.

Hamblin continues to move up the Arkansas record book as well with each at bat. The senior ranks second in career home runs (46) and third at bats (848), third in career RBI (199), second total bases (459), sixth in walks (112) and fourth in hits (258).

Razorbacks Rocket Up in the RPI

The Razorbacks’ 30-10 overall record and 8-5 mark against ranked opponents have them flying high in Boyd’s World Pseudo-RPI. The Boyd’s World RPI is a simulation of the Ratings Power Index, the official NCAA measure of team quality used by the tournament selection committee. This ranking was as of Thursday, April 19. There are four SEC teams among the top seven in the country.

Pseudo-Ratings Power Index (RPI)

Rating Record Team

1 0.644 30-5 South Carolina

2 0.635 29-11 Rice

3 0.635 32-8 Vanderbilt

4 0.632 24-8 Mississippi State

5 0.631 21-13 Long Beach State

7 0.623 30-10 Arkansas

Todd Assuming Familiar Role for Hogs

Junior Jess Todd could possibly be reprising the role Jay Sawatski held for the Razorbacks in 2004. Sawatski was 10-3 in 2004 with seven saves, a 3.38 overall ERA and a 2.49 mark in SEC play. He started seven games that season while making 24 appearances out of the bullpen with 86 strikeouts.

Todd is 4-2 on the season with a 4.43 ERA and is the SEC Pitcher of the Week after notching two wins in relief vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt. Todd pitched the final three innings on Friday night to secure the win and then tossed the final six on Sunday to clinch the series. He then threw 2.1 innings on March 31 to clinch a series win at Tennessee.

He is second on the team with 60 strikeouts and just nine walks in 40.2 innings and leads the country in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.28. He also has a 4.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Todd could be used to secure possible wins on either Friday or Saturday but is more than likely going to start on Sunday against the Bulldogs. He has made two appearances in a weekend series on five occasions this year and has two saves.

Hitting When it Counts – RISP

A key to the Razorbacks’ offense in 2007 has been their hitting with runners in scoring position. Overall, Arkansas is hitting .301, but that average jumps to .316 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with a .421 average, while Logan Forsythe is close behind at .388 with RISP. Jeff Nutt is hitting .357 while Danny Hamblin has jumped up to .341. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.

Player RISP RBI

Ben Tschepikow .421 (16 for 38) 21

Logan Forsythe .388 (19 for 49) 37

Tim Smalling .379 (11 for 29) 21

Jeff Nutt .357 (15 for 42) 29

Danny Hamblin .341 (14 for 41) 40

Casey Coon .315 (17 for 54) 46

Big Innings Key Razorbacks’ Offense

Arkansas has made a habit out of putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard this season. The Razorbacks are averaging 8.3 runs per game and a big part of that has been innings where UA score three, four or even five-plus runs. The Hogs have scored three-or-more runs in 48 innings this season, including 13 four-run innings and 17 innings of five or more runs. Arkansas has scored seven runs in an inning four times this season and eight runs in the fifth inning on Saturday, Feb. 24, against Illinois State.

Big-Inning Breakdown

Three-Run Innings: 18

Four-Run Innings: 13

Five-Run Innings: 8

Six-Run Innings: 4

Seven-Run Innings: 4

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ series sweep of Florida was big for the Hogs in this week’s polls. Baseball America kept the Razorbacks at No. 9, while the USA Today Coaches’ poll moved Arkansas up to No. 8. Collegiate Baseball jumped the Hogs up one spot to No. 4 while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll tabs the Razorbacks No. 7 and Rivals.com moved them to No. 8.

Tschepikow Back at Full Strength

Junior infielder Ben Tschepikow finally appears to be back at full strength in 2007. He was bothered by back problems throughout his freshman season in 2005 where he hit .400. He was then put on the shelf 14 games into his sophomore season and underwent surgery to correct the problem.

The athletic Fayetteville native is back to his old self, even after shoulder problems slowed him down over the last couple of weeks. He has been spraying balls all over the field in 2007. Tschepikow is hitting .318 with six doubles a home run and 21 RBI. He also has a .403 on-base percentage with 12 walks and only 11 strikeouts. Tschepikow has an impressive .421 average with runners in scoring position.

Game-Winning Hits

Coming through with the game-winning base hit is not an easy thing to do. Here we will track the Razorback players that come through in the clutch this season. Danny Hamblin, Tim Smalling and Logan Forsythe lead the way with three game-winning hits, while Casey Coon, Sean Jones and Matt Willard all have two game-winning hits each.

Date Opponent Player Result (Inning)

2/4 at Louisiana Tech Brian Walker HR, 3 RBI (8th)

2/9 at Troy Sean Jones HR, RBI (8th)

2/11 at Troy Casey Coon HR, 2 RBI (1st)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Casey Coon 2B, 2 RBI (7th)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Jacob Julius 2B, 3 RBI (1st)

2/23 Illinois State Jake Dugger 2B, 2 RBI (3rd)

3/9 Kansas Wayne Hrozek 2B, RBI (5th)

3/11 Kansas Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (6th)

3/13 Oral Roberts Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (2nd)

3/16 at Kentucky Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (1st)

3/18 at Kentucky Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (2nd)

3/21 at Centenary Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (7th)

3/25 Vanderbilt Jeff Nutt 2B RBI (1st)

4/1 at Tennessee Matt Willard 2B, 2 RBI (2nd)

4/3 Northern Colorado Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (4th)

4/4 Northern Colorado Matt Willard 3B, 3 RBI (5th)

4/8 Mississippi State Tim Smalling HR, 3 RBI (2nd)

4/14 Florida (1) Danny Hamblin 1B, RBI (4th)

4/14 Florida (2) Sean Jones 2B, RBI (3rd)

4/15 Florida Logan Forsythe 2B, 3 RBI (8th)

* indicates walk-off

Schmidt and Todd Both on Roger Clemens Award Watch List

Schmidt and junior-college transfer Jess Todd are on the preseason Roger Clemens Award watch list. The Roger Clemens Award goes to the top pitcher in college baseball.

Schmidt and Hamblin on Brooks Wallace Award Watch List

Schmidt and Danny Hamblin are also on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which goes to the top player in college baseball.

Host of Publications Tab Schmidt First-Team All-American

Arkansas sophomore left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt was named a preseason Louisville Slugger First-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Schmidt, a native of St. Louis, is 17-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 234 strikeouts. He was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year by league coaches last season. Schmidt is also a preseason first-team All-American by the NCBWA, Rivals.com and the College Baseball Foundation. He is a second-team selection by Baseball America.

Hamblin, Schmidt and Walker Selected as Captains

The Arkansas baseball team selected three captains for the 2007 season last fall. Both senior Danny Hamblin and junior Brain Walker were selected for a second straight season, while junior Nick Schmidt was picked for a first time.

Hogs Post 3.11 GPA During Fall Semester

The Arkansas baseball team proved they were truly student-athletes during the 2006 fall semester with an impressive 3.12-team grade point average.

The 3.11-team GPA follows a 2.9 GPA in the spring of 2006 and a 3.15 GPA during the fall of 2005.

The Razorbacks had 32 players compile a GPA of 3.0 or better with two players, Brandon Barr and Brad Secrist, making a perfect 4.0.

Senior right-hander Brian McLelland earned his degree in chemical engineering in December. Volunteer assistant coach Bubbs Merrill also earned his degree in sociology and former Hog Clay Goodwin finished his masters in adult education.

Fourteen Razorbacks posted GPAs of 3.5 or better during the fall, including Barr (4.0), Casey Coon (3.8), Thomas Hauskey (3.81), Travis Hill (3.81), Scott Limbocker (3.8), Brian McLelland (3.71), Sam Murphy (3.81), Chad Pierce (3.60), Stephen Richards (3.8), Secrist (4.0), Shaun Seibert (3.53), Jess Todd (3.8), Ben Tschepikow (3.8) and Michael Wild (3.5).

Hogs Believed to Lead Country in Actual Attendance – Again

The NCAA and Southeastern Conference recognize paid attendance as their method of ranking attendance, but Arkansas keeps both an actual attendance and paid attendance. After 22 games – 21 dates – at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are leading the way once again. The Razorbacks have sold 157,559 tickets for an average of 7,502 per game. UA is averaging 4,583 fans per game in actual attendance with 100,826 fans passing through the gates this season.

In 2006, Arkansas set school records in both tickets sold and attendance over 29 games at Baum Stadium, including the NCAA Regional. The Razorbacks sold 206,352 tickets for a 7,116 average (the average is second all time). A record 164,608 fans passed through the gates in actual attendance for an average of 5,676.

In 2005, the Hogs also set a then-school record in actual attendance with 146,902 fans showing up at Baum Stadium. That averages out to 5,247 fans per game and is believed to have led the country last season.

In an informal survey by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led all SEC schools in actual attendance. The Razorbacks’ average of 5,247 fans in actual attendance would rank fifth nationally on the NCAA’s paid attendance rankings. LSU finished second in The Advocate’s survey of actual attendance with 3,922 fans per game. Below is a breakdown of both paid and actual attendance at Baum Stadium over the past four seasons.

Baum Stadium is undergoing its third expansion since prior to the 2003 season with the addition of 20 luxury suites, over 1,500 chairback seats and an expanded Hog Pen. Baum Stadium will now features 34 luxury suites, 8,237 chairback seats and a capacity of 10,737 with additional standing room only available.

Year Tickets Sold Actual Attendance

2007 157,559 (7,502) 100,826 (4,583)

2006 206,352 (7,116) 164,608 (5,676)

2005 200,378 (7,156) 146,902 (5,247)

2004 (regular season) 134,525 (4,204) 91,779 (2,868)

2004 (w/postseason) 188,753 (4,840) 146,007 (3,743)

2003 100,372 (3,585) 60,510 (2,161)

Download: Arkansas Baseball Notes – UGA.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball