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Diamond Hogs Host Top-Ranked Vanderbilt

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Diamond Hogs Host Top-Ranked Vanderbilt

Arkansas Razorbacks (17-6, 2-1)

vs.

Vanderbilt Commodores (22-1, 2-1)

Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 24: #1 Vanderbilt at #9 Arkansas

Friday, March 23, 6:35 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (5-0, 1.47 ERA)

VU: 14 David Price, LHP (5-0, 2.36 ERA)

Game 25: #1 Vanderbilt at #9 Arkansas

Saturday, March 24, 2:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (4-0, 3.77 ERA)

VU: 11 Nick Christiani, RHP (4-1, 3.18 ERA)

Game 26: #1 Vanderbilt at #9 Arkansas

Sunday, March 25, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: TBA

VU: 21 Brett Jacobson, RHP (4-0, 2.48 ERA)

Diamond Hogs Host Top-Ranked Vanderbilt

No. 9 Arkansas returns home after a four-game road trip for one of its biggest conference series since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992. The Razorbacks welcome top-ranked Vanderbilt to Baum Stadium for a three-game set beginning at 6:35 p.m. Friday with a duel between two of the top left-handed pitchers in the country.

The Hogs’ ace junior Nick Schmidt (5-0, 1.47 ERA) and the Commodores’ junior David Price (5-0, 2.36 ERA) face off for the first time in their careers in Friday night’s series opener. The series continues at 2:05 p.m. Saturday and wraps up at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

The Commodores are the first No. 1 team the Razorbacks have played since LSU visited Baum Stadium atop the polls on May 4-6, 2001. Arkansas produced a truly miraculous sweep of the Tigers that season to close out the 2001 home slate.

Vanderbilt enters the weekend with a 22-1 overall record and a 2-1 mark in SEC play after dramatic wins over Ole Miss last Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Price enters the weekend with a league-high 71 strikeouts and 45.2 innings of work with a .182 opponent batting average. Schmidt has only fanned 40 in 43 innings, but boasts the second-best opponent batting average in the SEC at .157.

RHP Duke Welker will go to the hill for the Razorbacks on Saturday. He is 4-0 on the season, but has been even better over his last two starts with a 2-0 record and a 1.50 ERA. Vanderbilt will counter with RHP Nick Christiani on Saturday, who is 4-1 on the year with a 3.18 ERA.

The Commodores will start right-hander Brett Jacobson on Sunday. He is 4-0 on the year with a 2.48 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. The Hogs are undecided on a Sunday starter with Jess Todd and Dallas Keuchel possibilities.

Arkansas leads the all-time series 22-10 after taking two games last season in Nashville and sweeping the Commodores in Fayetteville in 2005. The Razorbacks own a 9-3 edge in the series since head coach Dave Van Horn returned to his alma mater in 2003.

Leading Off …

With Vanderbilt coming to town, the Razorbacks are set to play the nation’s top-ranked team for the first time since the 2001 season. The last No. 1 team the Hogs squared off with was LSU on May 4-6, 2001, with Arkansas sweeping the series.

Arkansas owns a 22-10 edge in the all-time series after winning two-of-three games in Nashville last season. The Hogs boast an 11-4 mark against the Commodores in Fayetteville, including a 5-1 record under Dave Van Horn.

Friday night’s matchup between Arkansas’ Nick Schmidt and Vanderbilt’s David Price unites two friends and members of Team USA’s 2006 starting rotation. Schmidt was 3-1 with team USA, making six starts and posting a 1.31 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. Price went 5-1 with a 0.20 ERA and 61 Ks in 44 innings.

The Razorbacks are hitting .306 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with an impressive .483 (14 for 29) average while Jeff Nutt and Casey Coon are both hitting .400. Jake Dugger (.353) and Logan Forsythe (.346) also boast impressive averages.

Casey Coon’s 36 RBI rank second in the SEC while his nine doubles lead the Razorbacks and rank seventh in the league. Both Coon and Danny Hamblin led the Hogs with five home runs and are tied for 10 in the SEC.

• Coon has made a full-time move to the outfield, starting the past seven games in left field. The moves allows the Razorback coaches to get more bats in the lineup and their best defensive third baseman, Logan Forsythe, in the game.

Forsythe has also been one of the hottest Razorbacks at the plate. He has hit in seven straight games and 17 of his last 18. He is hitting .386 over the last 18 games while leading the Hogs for the season with a .358 average.

Danny Hamblin is hitting .417 (10 for 24) with four home runs, two doubles and 12 RBI in the last seven games. During that span he has a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .531 on-base mark. He opened the season in a 7-for-51 slump.

Hamblin connected for his third career-multiple home run game on Sunday at Kentucky. He finished 2 for 5 with four RBI. He just missed his third home run in his final at bat when it was caught up against the wall in right field.

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 Commodores

No. 1 Vanderbilt enters the series with a 22-1 record and a 2-1 mark in SEC play after winning two-of-three games against Ole Miss in Nashville last weekend. Head Coach Tim Corbin’s Commodores pulled out dramatic come-from-behind wins on Friday night and Sunday afternoon vs. the Rebels.

Vanderbilt is ranked No. 1 in both the Baseball America and the USA Today Coaches poll. The Commodores are led by two of the best players in country in left-handed pitcher David Price and third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Price, Alvarez and VU closer Casey Weathers were members of Team USA during the summer of 2006 with Commodores’ skipper Tim Corbin leading Team USA.

Alvarez leads the Dores’ offense with a .380 batting average, eight home runs and 22 RBI. Alex Feinberg (.359), Ryan Flaherty (.356) and Dominic de la Osa (.338) are close behind. Flaherty is second on the team with 20 RBI, while de la Osa is a threat on the base paths with nine stolen bases. VU is hitting .333 as a team with a .422 on-base percentage.

Price leads a Vanderbilt pitching staff that boasts a 2.73-team ERA. Price is 5-0 on the year with a 2.36 ERA, while Sunday starter Brett Jacobson is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and Saturday hurler Nick Christiani has the team’s only loss at 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA. The Commodores are striking out an impressive 9.95 batters per nine innings as a team.

The Arkansas/Vanderbilt Series

Arkansas leads the all-time series with the Commodores 22-11 after winning two-of-three games in Nashville last season. The Hogs have an 11-4 record in Fayetteville after sweeping Vanderbilt at Baum Stadium in 2005.

Since the arrival of Dave Van Horn in 2003, the Razorbacks own a 9-3 edge in the series.

Facing No. 1

This weekend’s matchup with top-ranked Vanderbilt at Baum Stadium will be the first meeting for the Razorbacks with a No. 1 team since the 2001 season. LSU was the last No. 1 the Hogs faced and that resulted in a three-game sweep by Arkansas on May 4-6, 2001.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (5-0, 1.47 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his eighth start of the season on Friday night against the Commodores opposite All-America left-hander David Price. He has allowed just three earned run in his last 30.2 innings of work. He has 274-career strikeouts, ranking him third in school history and nine shy of David Walling (283) for second place. More information: See Page 13.

Saturday – RHP Duke Welker (4-0, 3.77 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make his eighth start of the season after going 2-0 in two starts last week. He allowed just two earned runs in 12 innings of work and struck out 12. Opponents are hitting just .196 off the right-hander. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a good breaking ball. More information: See Page 14.

Sunday- TBA: See pages 15 and 16 for more information on possible starting pitchers.

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 5-0 record and a 1.47 ERA this season.

Schmidt had a streak of 17-consecutive scoreless innings snapped in the first inning at Kentucky. He has allowed just three runs over 30.2 innings. Schmidt fanned 11 against the Golden Gophers for his 10th career double-digit strikeout game in early March. He now has 274 Ks heading into Friday night’s game with Vanderbilt and is nine shy of UA’s David Walling for second is school history.

It will be Schmidt’s third career start against the Commodores. He is 1-0 against VU with a 5.23 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings of work. Schmidt tossed eighth innings in Nashville last season, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out 10.

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 a constant 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 Vanderbilt series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has let anyone down either, making play after play at third base.

Forsythe has a .358 batting average, three home runs and a career-best 16 RBI. He is second on the team in on-base percentage at .443 and has hit safely in 17 of the Hogs last 18 games, including seven straight.

Hamblin Getting Hot

Danny Hamblin got off to an absolutely terrible start to the 2007 season with a .137 (7 for 51) batting average through the first 16 games of the year.

But the senior from Rowlett, Texas, didn’t panic, he just worked a little harder and the fruits of his efforts are paying off right now. Hamblin is hitting .417 over his last seven games with four home runs and 12 RBI.

He has raised his batting average to .218 and ranks second on the team in RBI with 21. He

David Price and the Hogs

David Price is no strange to the Arkansas lineup as the highly-touted left-hander makes his third career start vs. the Hogs and his second at Baum Stadium. He has a 1-1 record in his career against the Razorbacks with a 1.93 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 14 innings of work.

Price absorbed his first career loss in Fayetteville in 2005, allowing two runs on six hits in six innings of work with six Ks. He turned those numbers around last season and diced up the Razorbacks to the tune of 17 strikeouts over eight innings as the Commodores won 7-1. He allowed just one run on a Jake Dugger home run.

Van Horn’s Hogs Against the Top 5

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn has been fairly successful against highly-ranked competition since taking over the Hogs in 2003. The Razorbacks are 12-8 against teams ranked in the top five under Van Horn’s supervision.

Vanderbilt will be the first No. 1 ranked team the Hogs have faced since 2001, but Arkansas is 5-3 against teams ranked second since 2003, 4-2 vs. No. 4-ranked teams and 3-3 against No. 5s. The Hogs took two of three games from then-No. 2 South Carolina in Columbia in 2005 and swept second-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge in 2004.

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 .296, but that average jumps to .306 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow has had the most hits with RISP with 14 and a .483 average, while Jeff Nutt and Casey Coon are both hitting .400 with RISP. Jake Dugger and Logan Forsythe are close behind at .353 and .346, respectively. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.

OPS Becoming Telling Stat

OPS or on-base percentage plus slugging percentage has become a popular way of better using statistics to identify a players true productivity at the plate. The following is a quick look at Arkansas’ top hitters according to OPS among players with at least 35 at bats.

Player On-Base % Slugging % OPS

Casey Coon .449 .639 1.088

Logan Forsythe .443 .537 .980

Jake Dugger .443 .528 .971

Wayne Hrozek .404 .532 .936

Brad Secrist .375 .553 .928

Ben Tschepikow .440 .471 .911

Hogs’ Offense Rolling

Arkansas is settling in at the plate with Southeastern Conference play beginning. The Hogs are hitting .296 on the season and an even better .306 mark with runners in scoring position.

The Razorbacks are averaging 9.1 runs per game and 10.3 hits in 23 games this season. They have hit 29 home runs and 52 doubles. They also boast an on-base percentage of .411 and a .475 slugging percentage. UA has recorded an amazing 48 hit by pitches in 23 games (2.09 pg) and drawn 119 walks (5.17 per game).

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 9.1 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 30 innings this season, including eight four-run innings and 12 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: 9

Four-Run Innings: 8

Five-Run Innings: 4

Six-Run Innings: 3

Seven-Run Innings: 4

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ 3-1 record last week kept the Hogs steady in this week’s polls. Baseball America kept the Razorbacks at No.9 while the USA Today Coaches’ poll moved Arkansas up to No. 11. Collegiate Baseball moved the Hogs back into the top 10 at No. 10. Arkansas jumped one spot to No. 10 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.

Coon’s Bat Shines Early

Casey Coon came to Arkansas has a heralded hitter and he has quickly shown why. He is hitting .349 on the season with five home runs, nine doubles and a 36 RBI.

Coon also leads the team in slugging percentage at .639 and on-base percentage at .449. He connected for two home runs on Friday, Feb. 9, at Troy and then cracked two more at Centenary on March 21. He leads the team in both multiple-hit games (8) and multiple-RBI games (11).

The versatile infielder can play second base, third base or shortstop, but made the move to the outfield following the Dairy Queen Classic to enable the Razorbacks to put both their best offensive and defensive teams on the field.

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. He has been spraying balls all over the field early on in the 2007 season. Tschepikow is hitting .353 with five doubles a home run and 18 RBI. He also has a .440 on-base percentage with nine walks and only six strikeouts. Tschepikow has an impressive .483 average with runners in scoring position.

Freshman Smalling Making Impact for Hogs

Arkansas freshman Tim Smalling has taken over the starting job at shortstop after an impressive series at Troy. The Raleigh, N.C., native is third on the team with a .304 batting average and has four doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBI.

Smalling has started 17 games at shortstop and made just two errors in 57 chances (.966) while making several run-saving plays. Smalling and Tschepikow have combined to help turn 19 doubles plays this season and are proving to be one of the better double-play combs in the Southeastern Conference.

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. Casey Coon, Danny Hamblin and Tim Smalling lead the way so far with 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)

4/9 Kansas Wayne Hrozek 2B, RBI (5th)

4/11 Kansas Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (6th)

4/13 Oral Roberts Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (2nd)

4/16 at Kentucky Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (1st)

4/18 at Kentucky Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (2nd)

4/21 at Centenary Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (7th)

* 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 Returns for Senior Season

Arkansas third baseman/first baseman Danny Hamblin returns for his senior season in 2007. He was selected with the ninth round with the 278th overall pick of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics. Hamblin is a preseason third-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. The Rowlett, Texas, native put together one of the most complete seasons for a Razorback in recent memory in 2006. He was the only player in the SEC to rank in the top 10 in home runs and stolen bases. Hamblin was third in the league with 68 RBI. He tied for seventh in home runs (17) and was just outside of the top 10 in total bases (131).

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 six games at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are off to a quick start once again. The Razorbacks have sold 71,073 tickets for an average of 7,107 per game. UA is averaging 4,176 fans per game in actual attendance with 41,756 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 1,200 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 71,073 (7,107) 41,756 (4,176)

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: Vanderbilt Notes pgs 1-14.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball