(4-0, 0-0 SEC)
Domino’s Pizza Classic
(Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Ohio State)
Olsen Field • College Station, Texas
Razorbacks Baseball Radio Network
Chuck Barrett (play-by-play)
TV: Cox Sports (all three games)
Lyn Rollins (play-by-pla)
Ron Swoboda (analyst)
Game 5: Arkansas vs. Louisiana Tech
Fri., Feb. 29, 12:30 p.m. – Olsen Field
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 29 Dallas Keuchel, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
LT: 47 Luke Burnett, RHP (0-0, 9.00 ERA)
Game 6: Arkansas at Texas A&M
Sat., March 1, 6:30 p.m. – Olsen Field
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 35 Kendall Korbal, RHP (0-0, 2.25 ERA)
A&M: 50 Barret Loux, RHP (0-0, 3.60 ERA)
Game 7: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Sun., March 2, 11 a.m. – Olsen Field
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 34 Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-0, 11.57 ERA)
OSU: J.B. Shuck, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Razorbacks to be Tested at Domino’s Pizza Classic in College Station
The Arkansas baseball travels to College Station, Texas, for the Domino’s Pizza Classic this weekend to play Louisiana Tech, host Texas A&M and Ohio State at Olsen Field.
The tournament gets started at 12:30 p.m. Friday as the Hogs face off with Louisiana Tech. Arkansas then plays Texas A&M on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and finishes the weekend with an 11 a.m. contest with Ohio State.
All three games will be televised by Cox Sports with Lyn Rollins (play-by-play) and Ron Swoboda (analyst) calling the action. Cox Sports can be found on channel 119 in Northwest Arkansas. The tournament games can be heard on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett handling the play-by-play duties. The audio can also be heard over the internet inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com. Live stats are also available on Hogwired.com.
Head coach Dave Van Horn’s club, which is ranked 30th in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll, is making its first road trip of the season. Arkansas opened the season with four-straight home wins, including a series sweep of Wright State and a 2-1 win over Kansas on Wednesday afternoon.
Southpaw Dallas Keuchel gets the start on the mound in the opener after an impressive relief appearance on opening day against Wright State. Keuchel (1-0, 0.00 ERA) pitched a career-best 5.1-hitless innings vs. the Raiders, while equaling his career best with six strikeouts. Louisiana Tech counters with flame-throwing right-hander Luke Burnett (0-0, 9.00 ERA).
Freshman Kendall Korbal makes his second career start on Saturday night against host Texas A&M and their talented freshman right-hander Barret Loux (0-0, 23.60 ERA). Korbal worked four-strong innings in the series finale with Wright State, allowing just one run on one hit with four strikeouts.
On Sunday, the Razorbacks will send junior right-hander Shaun Seibert to the mound for the second time this season. Seibert worked 2.1 innings in his first start of the season on Feb. 23 vs. Wright State. He surrendered three runs on three hits in his first start since Tommy John surgery on March 22, 2007. Ohio State will counter with junior left-hander J.B. Shuck, who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA this season.
Saturday night’s game between Arkansas and Texas A&M features several storylines as Hogs’ skipper Dave Van Horn squares off with A&M boss Rob Childress. Childress was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for Van Horn at Nebraska from 1998-2003. When Childress got the job at Texas A&M prior to the 2006 season, his first hire was then-Arkansas assistant coach Matt Deggs.
Leading Off …
• Arkansas’ bullpen allowed just two earned runs in 25 innings through the first four games of the 2008 season for a 0.72 ERA. The Hogs’ pen has struck out 33 while issuing just eight walks and holding opponents to a .125 batting average.
• The UA pitching staff fanned 16 Kansas batters on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Baum Stadium. It was the most by an Arkansas team since Jess Todd struck out 17 by himself in eight innings against South Carolina in last season’s SEC Tournament on May 24.
• The Razorbacks offense found a way to get on base against Wright State with a .430 team on-base percentage. UA drew 16 walks and was hit by eight pitches. Aaron Murphree (.667), Logan Forsythe (.643) and Andy Wilkins (.571) led the way individually.
• Logan Forsythe and Casey Coon are on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which goes to the top player in college baseball.
• Shaun Seibert, who injured this right elbow against Kansas last season returned to the mound for the Hogs on Saturday, Feb. 23. The junior right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on March 22, 2007, and returned to the hill on Feb. 23, 2008, just 11 months off surgery. He will make his second start of the season on Sunday vs. Ohio State.
• Forsythe is on the Golden Spikes Award watch list.
• Forsythe is ranked as the No. 43 pro prospect by Baseball America in their top 100 college prospects list.
• Forsythe was also selected first-team pre-season All-SEC by SEBaseball.com. Coon garnered second-team honors in the outfield. SEBaseball.com also tabbed Forsythe and Coon as the third-best 1-2 offensive punch in the SEC.
• Arkansas was picked to finish third in the SEC’s Western Division league coaches and fifth by Baseball America.
• Baseball America also tabbed Forsythe as the best third baseman in the Southeastern Conference.
• Freshman Brett Eibner was the seventh-highest drafted player to come to school after being taken in the fourth round by the Houston Astros (No. 141 overall).
• Arkansas boasts seven players on the 2008 roster who have previously been drafted. Six of those players are new to the Arkansas lineup.
Scouting the Tournament
Louisiana Tech – The Bulldogs enter the tournament with an unblemished 6-0 record after sweeping McNeese State to open the season and then taking a doubleheader from Texas-Arlington on Tuesday and beating UL-Monroe 11-7 on Wednesday.
The Hogs will see staff ace Luke Burnett on Friday afternoon. He is 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in one start this season. The Bulldogs are hitting .342 as a team with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in six games. Jericho Jones (.478), Chris Kersten (.476) and Albie Goulder (.450) lead the Tech squad.
Texas A&M – The Aggies are 4-2 on the season after splitting a four-game series with Northern Colorado to open the season and then taking two games from McNeese State in the midweek.
Texas A&M is hitting .293 as a team with 11 stolen bases. Brian Ruggiano is leading the team with a .450 batting average while Dane Carter is hitting .421 with a team-best six RBI.
On the mound, UA will face freshman right-hander Barret Loux (0-0. 3.60 ERA). THe Aggies have an impressive 2.25-team ERA and a .212 opponent batting average.
Ohio State – The Buckeyes are 3-0 on the season after capturing the tournament title at the Service Academies Spring Classic in Millington, Tenn., last weekend. OSU’s midweek games were cancelled due to snow. Ohio State is hitting .264 as a team with Justin Miller’s .500 average and four RBI leading the way. OSU averages 4.67 runs per game. The pitching staff boasts an impressive 1.33 ERA with a .206 opponent batting average. Southpaw J.B. Shuck gets the start against the Razorbacks after pitching the first six innings of a 1-0 shutout of Memphis on Feb. 23.
A Look at the Razorbacks’ Rotation
Friday – Dallas Keuchel, LHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA) – Keuchel gets his first start of the season after a dominating performance out of the Hogs’ bullpen in the season opener against Wright State. He worked a career-high 5.1 innings and did not allow a hit, while tying his career high with six strikeouts. Keuchel made nine starts as a freshman when he posted a 6-3 record.
Saturday – Kendall Korbal (0-0, 0.00 ERA) – Kendall Korbal gets his second start of the season for the Razorbacks. Korbal is just five weeks of arthroscopic but threw four-impressive innings in his first start against Wright State, allowing just one hit and one run with four strikeouts. He possesses possibly the best pitchability on the Razorbacks’ staff and a fastball around 90 mph. Korbal’s best trait is his ability to consistently throws four pitches for strikes to either side of the plate.
Sunday – Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-0, 11.57 ERA) – Shaun Seibert makes his second start for the Hogs’ since he underwent Tommy John surgery on March 22, 2007. The right-hander is only throwing between 80-90 percent, but is locating his pitches and will use his experience to his advantage. Seibert boasts a 9-4 career record with a 3.43 ERA in 142.2 innings with 133 strikeouts.
The Van Horn Connection
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn will see several old friends on the Texas A&M bench Saturday night. Texas A&M skipper Rob Childress was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for Van Horn at Nebraska from 1998-2003. Childress began working for Van Horn in 1991 and 1992 at Texarkana College. The pair then linked back up from 1995-97 at Northwestern State where Childress was the pitching coach for the Demons.
When Childress got the job at Texas A&M prior to the 2006 season, his first hire was then-Arkansas assistant coach Matt Deggs. Deggs spent three seasons on Van Horn’s staff at Arkansas and helped the Razorbacks reach win the 2004 SEC Championship and advance to the College World Series.
Another link back to Van Horn’s Nebraska days is volunteer assistant coach Andy Sawyers. Sawyers was a senior on Van Horn’s first Nebraska team in 1998 and then served as a volunteer assistant for the Huskers in 2000.
Bullpen Dominates Early in the Season
Arkansas revamped bullpen has been dominant through the first four games of the 2008 season. The Hogs’ relief staff has allowed just two earned runs in 25.0 innings for a 0.72 ERA and two saves. The bullpen has struck out 33 while issuing just eight walks (4.13-to-1 ratio). The Razorbacks’ bullpen has a .125 opponent batting average for the season.
All four victories have come out of the bullpen with Dallas Keuchel earning the win on Friday, Cliff Springston on Saturday and Brett Eibner on Sunday against Wright State. Mike Bolsinger then captured the win on Wednesday against Kansas as he struck out five Jayhawks over two innings of work.
After setting the school record with 565 strikeouts as a team in 2007, the 2008 pitching staff is picking up right where the 2007 team left off. The Hog hurlers have struck out 44 batters in four games for an average of 11.00 per nine innings. UA also set the school more for strikeouts per nine innings last season at 8.83.
Wilkins Earns SEC Freshman of the Week Honors
It didn’t take freshman Andy Wilkins long to make a name for himself in the SEC. The Broken Arrow, Okla., product garnered SEC Freshman of the Week honors following the season-opening weekend.
Wilkins hit .455 in three starts (one at first base and two at DH) against Wright State with a home run and six RBI. He also delivered two game-winning hits with a three-run home run that propelled the Hogs to victory in the opener on Friday and a two-RBI single to give UA the win on Sunday. Wilkins posted a .727 slugging percentage and a .571 on-base percentage with the help of three walks. He also hit .500 with runners in scoring position and .500 with two out, including four two-out RBI.
Forsythe Finds a Home
Forsythe finished an amazing turnaround in 2007 by leading the team with a .347 batting average, nine home runs and a career-best 55 RBI. He was second on the team in slugging percentage at .556, was second on the team in on-base percentage at .431, and led the team with 18 stolen bases. He hit safely in 47 of the Hogs last 59 games and in 26-of-30 SEC games last season.
His play during the season earned him the opportunity to play for Team USA over the summer. Forsythe showed his versatility as he played all over the field and hit over .300 for Team USA.
His glove did not let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasted a .933 fielding percentage at third base last season with eight errors in 119 chances, all coming on throws.
Early on in 2008, Forsythe as even better with a .429 batting average and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at third base.
Eibner Proving to be Two-Way Player
Freshman Brett Eibner is proving to everyone that he is capable of being an everyday-two-way player for the Razorbacks. Eibner made two starts in center field for Arkansas vs. Wright State and then moved from center field to the pitcher’s mound in the series finale. He showed that he was good at both in the process.
Eibner batted .667 at the plate (2 for 3) but also scored two runs, drew two walks and was hit by two pitches to post an .857 on-base percentage. On the mound, Eibner earned the win on Feb. 24 with three-solid innings out of the bullpen vs. Wright State, allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts.
Eibner is hitting .500 on the season after ripping a two-out, two-RBI single past the Kansas third baseman on Wednesday that proved to be the difference in the Hogs’ 2-1 win over the Jayhawks.
Getting on Base
Arkansas did anything it had to do to reach base during the season’s opening weekend against Wright State. The Razorbacks posted a .430 on-base percentage as a team that was aided by 16 base on balls and eight hit by pitches.
Aaron Murphree led the way individually with a .667 on-base percentage with Logan Forsythe (.643) and Andy Wilkins (.571) right on his heels. Brett Eibner also made an impact in just two starts, reaching base in six-of-seven plate appearances with two singles, two walks and two hit by pitches.
Forsythe Named to Golden Spikes Watch List
Arkansas junior third baseman Logan Forsythe was named to USA Baseball’s pre-season Golden Spikes Award Watch. The release of the watch list marks USA Baseball’s first step toward identifying the top player in college baseball.
The Golden Spikes Watch List features 75 of the nation’s top collegiate players that were nominated by baseball sports information directors across the country.
Injury Bug Bites Diamond Hogs
The Diamond Hogs have been bit by the injury bug leading up to the first week of the season. Arkansas has three starting position players ailing and have lost one promising freshman left-handed pitcher for the season.
Sean Jones, who was penciled in to start in center field for the Razorbacks, was hit by a pitch in the left hand in early February and will miss roughly the first four weeks of the season.
Casey Coon and Tim Smalling are both fighting through slight shoulder injuries but are expected to play.
True freshman left-hander Drew Smyly has been lost for the season with fractured left elbow. The Little Rock Central product will have screws inserted in the coming weeks and will be ready for 2009.
New Faces Dot Razorback Lineup
Several new faces will be seen on the baseball diamond for the 2008 Diamond Hogs as the season opens. As many as eight newcomers could see action early in the season, including five true freshmen.
The Hogs will start true freshman – James Mahler – on the mound on Tuesday while Andy Wilkins (DH/1B), Jacob House (1B/OF) and Brett Eibner (OF/RHP) have positioned themselves to be penciled into the lineup. Freshman Kendall Korbal is scheduled to make his second start vs. Texas A&M on Saturday.
Junior-college transfers are also making an immediate impact for the Razorbacks as shortstop Scott Lyons, outfielder/infielder Chase Leavitt and catcher Ryan Cisterna all have a chance to start for the Hogs.
On the mound even more newcomers are going to make immediate impact with LHP Cliff Springston, RHP Mike Bolsinger (starting vs. Kansas on Feb. 27), RHP Eibner and RHP Justin Wells.
Arkansas has had a key player on the USA National Team in each of the past two summers. Nick Schmidt was one of the American’s top starting pitchers with a 3-1 record and a 1.31 ERA in 2006 and Logan Forsythe was one of the top hitters last year with a .309 average in 28 starts.
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. Early on in 2008, freshman Andy Wilkins leads the way with two game-winning hits, while Aaron Murphree and fellow freshman Brett Eibner have one each.
Date Opponent Player Result (Inning)
2/22 Wright State Andy Wilkins HR, 3 RBI (4th)
2/23 Wright State Aaron Murphree HR, 2 RBI (6th)
2/24 Wright State Andy Wilkins 1B, 2 RBI (7th)
2/27 Kansas Brett Eibner 1B, 2 RBI (6th)
Hogs 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 29 games at Baum Stadium in 2007 (not including the NCAA Regional) the Hogs led the way once again. The Razorbacks sold 233,350 tickets for an average of 8,047 per game. UA is averaging 5,700 fans per game in actual attendance with a school record 165,298 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.
Baum Stadium is underwent its third expansion since prior to the 2003 season with the addition of 20 luxury suites, over 1,500 chair back seats and an expanded Hog Pen in 2007. Baum Stadium will now features 34 luxury suites, 8,237 chair back seats and a capacity of 10,737 with additional standing room only available.
In an informal survey by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led all SEC schools in actual attendance in 2005 and 2006. Below is a breakdown of both paid and actual attendance at Baum Stadium over the past four seasons.
Year Tickets Sold Actual Attendance
2007 266,270 (8,069) 198,218 (6,007)
2006 206,352 (7,116) 164,608 (5,676)
2005 200,378 (7,156) 146,902 (5,247)
2004 188,753 (4,840) 146,007 (3,743)
2003 100,372 (3,585) 60,510 (2,161)
Razorbacks Selected in the MLB Draft
Arkansas currently has seven players on its roster that have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Below is a breakdown of Razorbacks that chose books over the bucks.
Player Year Round Pick Team
Brett Eibner, RHP 2007 4th 141 Houston Astros
Andy Wilkins, INF 2007 25th 770 Texas Rangers
Mike Bolsinger 2006 34th 1031 Cleveland Indians
Scott Lyons, INF 2007 36th 1099 Boston Red Sox
James Mahler, RHP 2007 42nd 1262 Philadelphia Phillies
Travis Hill, RHP 2005 42nd 1266 Texas Rangers
Ryan Cisterna, C 2006 47th 1391 Kansas City Royals
Ryan Cisterna, C 2007 48th 1351 Washington Nationals