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Diamond Hogs Open SEC Play at Undefeated Kentucky

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Diamond Hogs Open SEC Play at Undefeated Kentucky

Arkansas Razorbacks (14-5)

vs.

Kentucky Wildcats (19-0)

Cliff Hagan Stadium • Lexington, Ky.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 20: #9 Arkansas at #12 Kentucky

Friday, March 16, 5:30 p.m. – Cliff Hagan Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (4-0, 1.18 ERA)

UK: 10 Chris Rusin, LHP (2-0, 3.32 ERA)

Game 21: #9 Arkansas at #12 Kentucky

Saturday, March 17, Noon – Cliff Hagan Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 28 Jess Todd, RHP (1-1, 3.71 ERA)

UK: 14 Andrew Albers, LHP (4-0, 2.42 ERA)

Game 22: #9 Arkansas at #12 Kentucky

Sunday, March 18, Noon – Cliff Hagan Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (3-0, 4.37 ERA)

UK: 37 Greg Dombrowski, RHP (3-0, 2.70 ERA)

Diamond Hogs Open SEC Play at Undefeated Kentucky

No. 9 Arkansas opens its 2007 Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend with a three-game series at No. 12 Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington. The series opens on Friday at 5:35 p.m. (CDT) and continues at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett calling the action. The audio can also be accessed over the internet inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com.

The Razorbacks (14-5) enter the weekend on a four-game winning streak after sweeping Kansas last weekend at Baum Stadium and knocking off Oral Roberts on Tuesday. Dave Van Horn’s club is averaging 9.1 runs per game with a 3.86 ERA and is 5-4 away from home.

The Wildcats are an impressive 19-0 on the season with all of their games at home. UK is hitting a staggering .368 as a team while scoring 12.3 runs per game and holding opponents with a 2.58 ERA.

Arkansas leads the all-time series between the two clubs 27-16 after the Hogs won two-of-three games in Fayetteville last season. UA also holds a 10-8 edge in the series in Lexington.

The Razorbacks send All-America left-hander Nick Schmidt to the hill on Friday night in the series opener. He is 4-0 on the year with a 1.18 ERA and has not allowed a run in his last 16.2 innings. UK will counter with lefty Chris Rusin, who is 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in four starts.

Jess Todd makes his second start of the season on Saturday against the Wildcats’ potent lineup. The right-hander has fanned 29 in 19 innings this season while walking just three. Kentucky will throw LHP Andrew Albers (4-0, 2.42 ERA), who is 1-1 in two career appearances vs. the Hogs. He threw a complete-game as a freshman in 2005, allowing just one run on seven hits.

Sunday’s series finale will pit two right-handers with completely different styles. Arkansas’ Duke Welker is a hard-throwing junior that is 3-0 with a 4.37 ERA that has struggled with his control. While the Wildcats will send control specialist Greg Dombrowski to the mound. He is 3-0 on the year with a 2.70 ERA while issuing just two walks in 28.1 innings.

Leading Off …

The Razorbacks open the SEC slate at No. 12 Kentucky this weekend. The Wildcats are off to a school-record 19-0 start while averaging 12.3 runs per game and 12.8 hits per contest. The two schools have met 43 times on the baseball diamond with Arkansas holding a 27-16 edge in the series.

The Razorbacks and Wildcats do have one common opponent in Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Arkansas outscored UWM 44-7 in its three-game series, while Kentucky beat up on the Panthers to a tune 41-7 over three games.

The Razorbacks are hitting .324 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with an impressive .480 (12 for 25) average while Casey Coon and Jake Dugger are both hitting .429.

Casey Coon’s 27 RBI rank third in the SEC while his .365 batting average ranks leads the team. Coon’s eight doubles rank fifth in the SEC.

• Coon has made a full-time move to the outfield, starting the past four 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.

Danny Hamblin is hitting .500 (4 for 8) with a home run, double and four RBI in the last three games. He opened the season in a 7-for-15 slump.

Ben Tschepikow had one of his best offensive games as Razorback on Tuesday against Oral Roberts, going 3 for 4 with a home run and a career-best four RBI. However, he had one of his worst games on the defensive side, making three total errors, including two throwing errors.

Logan Forsythe has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games and has his average up to a career-best .347. Forsythe has made just one error in 11 starts at third base this season a throwing error on Tuesday against ORU. His other three errors came while catching on a limited basis this season.

Nick Schmidt has thrown 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two starts. He allowed a solo home run to the second batter at Minnesota on March 4 and that is the only run he has allowed in the past 25.2 innings. He has lowered his ERA to 1.18 with a 4-0 record.

Shaun Seibert injured this right elbow in the fourth inning on Sunday, March 11, and will not make the trip to Lexington this weekend.

• 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 Wildcats

Kentucky is led by fourth-year head coach John Cohen. The Wildcats have opened the 2007 season with a school-record 19-game winning streak. UK has also reeled off the nation’s longest regular season home field winning streak at 29 games. Kentucky tied Alabama for the SEC regular-season title last season and hosted a NCAA Regional for the first time, bowing out to the College of Charleston.

The Wildcats are putting up crazy number at the plate this season, even without junior outfielder Colin Cowgill, who is out with a broke hand. Cowgill hit 16 home runs and drove in 61 a year ago. Kentucky is hitting .368 as a team while averaging 12.3 runs and 12.8 hits per game. UK is averaging 3.3 doubles per game. Mike Brown is leading the charge with a .525 batting average (32 for 61) in 14 starts this season. Sean Coughlin is close behind at .410 with 11 doubles and a SEC-best 38 RBI.

On the mound the Wildcats feature a trio of solid starting pitching and an excellent bullpen. UK has a 2.58 ERA on the season while walking an amazingly low 42 batters in 171 innings. LHP Chris Rusin will start on Friday against the Hogs. He is 2-0 on the year with a 3.32 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Kentucky will send another left-hander out on Saturday in junior Andrew Albers, who is 1-1 against he Razorbacks in his career. Albers is 4-0 on the season with a 2.42 ERA after earning a win in the midweek.

The Arkansas/Kentucky Series

Arkansas leads the all-time series with the Wildcats 27-16 after taking two-of-three games from Kentucky last season in Fayetteville. The Hogs own a 10-8 edge in the series in Lexington with UK winning two games in 2005. Hogs’ skipper Dave Van Horn is 9-3 against the Wildcats during his tenure at Arkansas.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (4-0, 1.18 ERA): Junior south paw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his seventh start of the season on Friday night against the Wildcats. He has thrown 16.2-scoreless innings over his last two starts that included a complete-game at Minnesota and eight-shutout innings vs. Kansas. Schmidt has allowed just one earned run in his last 25.2 innings of work. He has 268-career strikeouts, ranking him third in school history and 15 shy of David Walling (283) for second place. More information: See Page 13.

Saturday – RHP Jess Todd (1-1, 3.71 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Jess Todd makes his second start of the season on Saturday at Kentucky after beginning the season as the Hogs’ closer. Todd is 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA and two saves. He was electric in his first start vs. Kansas, striking out eight in his first 4.1 innings before tiring. Todd possesses a 92-94 mph four-seam fastball and a slider clocked between 85-87. He also has a 90-92 mph two-seam fastball. More information: See Page 14.

Sunday – RHP Duke Welker (3-0, 4.37 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker is tentatively scheduled to make his seventh start of the season on Sunday at Kentucky. He is 3-0 with a 4.37 ERA after his best outing to date on Tuesday against Oral Roberts. Welker pitched a career-high six innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits. Opponents are hitting just .202 off the right-hander. More information: See Page 15.

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 4-0 record and a 1.18 ERA this season.

Schmidt has reeled off 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to the second batter of the Minnesota game on March 4 when he allowed a solo home run. That run is the only run he has allowed in 25.2 innings. Schmidt fanned 11 against the Golden Gophers for his 10th career double-digit strikeout game. He now has 268 Ks heading into Friday night’s game at Kentucky and is 15 shy of UA’s David Walling for second is school history.

It will be Schmidt’s third career start against the Wildcats. He is 1-0 against UK with a 4.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Schmidt allowed two runs on six hits in six innings and struck out seven as a freshman in Lexington in 2005 and then took a no decision last season in Fayetteville.

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 .297, but that average jumps to .324 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow has had the most hits with RISP with 12 and a .480 average, while Jeff Nutt is hitting .556 with runners in scoring position (5 for 9). Casey Coon and Jake Dugger are also hitting .429. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.

Player RISP RBI

Jeff Nutt .556 (5 for 9) 12

Ben Tschepikow .480 (12 for 25) 14

Casey Coon .429 (9 for 21) 27

Jake Dugger .429 (6 for 14) 9

Wayne Hrozek .333 (4 for 12) 9

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 25 at bats.

Player On-Base % Slugging % OPS

Brad Secrist .679 .393 1.072

Casey Coon .440 .606 1.046

Jacob Julius .577 .457 1.034

Jake Dugger .468 .565 1.033

Wayne Hrozek .600 .410 1.010

Matt Willard .538 .407 .945

Logan Forsythe .421 .490 .911

Hogs’ Offense Rolling

Arkansas found its swing in southeastern Alabama against Troy and then really caught fire against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Hogs are hitting .297 on the season and an impressive .324 mark with runners in scoring position.

The Razorbacks are averaging 9.1 runs per game and 10.6 hits in 19 games this season. They have hit 21 home runs and 44 doubles. They boast an on-base percentage of .405 and a .468 slugging percentage. UA has recorded an amazing 36 hit by pitches in 18 games and drawn 91 walks (4.77 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 25 innings this season, including eight four-run innings and nine innings of five or more runs. Arkansas has scored seven runs in an inning three times this season and eight runs in the fifth inning on Saturday, Feb. 24, against Illinois State.

Big-Inning Breakdown

Three-Run Innings: 7

Four-Run Innings: 8

Five-Run Innings: 3

Six-Run Innings: 2

Seven-Run Innings: 3

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ sweep of Kansas moved them up in this week’s polls. The Hogs jumped one spot in the Baseball America poll to No. 9 and held at No. 11 in Collegiate Baseball. The second USA Today Coaches’ Poll of the regular season was also released with the Razorbacks residing at No. 12. Arkansas jump four spots to No. 11 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 a team-best .348 on the season with three home runs, eight doubles and a 27 RBI.

Coon also leads the team in slugging percentage at .606 and is second in on-base percentage at .440. He connected for two home runs on Friday, Feb. 9, at Troy and then cracked his third home run of the season on Sunday, Feb. 11. He leads the team in both multiple-hit games (9) and multiple-RBI games (7).

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 .333 with three doubles a home run and 14 RBI. He also has a .431 on-base percentage with nine walks. Tschepikow has an impressive .480 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 .340 batting average and has four doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBI.

Smalling has started 13 games at shortstop and made just two errors in 51 chances (.961) while making several run-saving plays. Smalling and Tschepikow have combined to help turn 17 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 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)

* indicates walk-off

Download: 07 Arkansas Baseball Notes – Kentucky.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball