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Diamond Hogs Travel to Face Sun Belt Favorite Troy

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Diamond Hogs Travel to Face Sun Belt Favorite Troy

Arkansas Razorbacks (2-1)

vs.

Troy Trojans (0-0)

Pace-Riddle Field • Troy, Ala.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Series Outlook

Game 4: #7 Arkansas at Troy

Friday, Feb. 9, 6 p.m. – Riddle-Pace Field

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (1-0, 6.00 ERA)

Troy: 23 Clegg Snipes, RHP

Game 5: #7 Arkansas at Troy

Saturday, Feb. 10, 1 p.m. – Riddle-Pace Field

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 34 Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-1, 4.50 ERA)

Troy: 16 Joe Hallahan, LHP

Game 6: #7 Arkansas at Troy

Sunday, Feb. 11, 1 p.m. – Riddle-Pace Field

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (0-0, 6.00 ERA)

Troy: 20 Nate Duhe, RHP

Diamond Hogs Travel to Face Sun Belt Favorite Troy

No. 6 Arkansas finishes its six-game season-opening road trip at Troy this weekend, beginning with a 6 p.m. first pitch on Friday, Feb. 9, at Riddle-Pace Field in Troy, Ala. The second game of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, with the series finale slated for 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11.

It will be the season-opener for the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorites coached by Bobby Pierce. The Trojans return five starters after posting a 47-16 record in 2006 and advancing to the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional where they finished second to host Alabama. Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year Josh Dew leads the Trojans’ returners after hitting .317 last season.

The Razorbacks are coming off of a series win at Louisiana Tech last weekend. The Hogs will be looking to jump start their offense after hitting .194 in the three games in Ruston, La. The pitching staff will be looking for a strong effort out of preseason first-team All-American Nick Schmidt. He earned the win against Tech on Feb. 2 after reaching his pitch count after three innings.

The UA bullpen was strong against the Bulldogs, recording a win and two saves over 16 innings of work. Right-hander Jess Todd led the way with two saves in two appearances. He worked 3.1 innings, striking out six and not issuing a walk.

The left-handed Schmidt will be the Hogs Friday night starter with right-hander Shaun Seibert getting the nod on Saturday and RHP Duke Welker on Sunday.

Troy will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Clegg Snipes on Friday. Snipes was 7-0 a season ago with a 4.87 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 77.2 innings of work. Left-hander Joe Hallahan will go to the mound on Saturday after posting a 6-3 record in 2006 with a 4.15 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 78 innings. RHP Nate Duhe will start the series finale on Sunday. The right-handed junior went 13-1 at LSU-Eunice CC last season.

The series marks the first meeting between the two schools on the baseball diamond.

All three games can be heard on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network or inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com with Chuck Barrett handling the play-by-play duties.

Leading Off …

• The series opener at Troy will be preceded by a pig roast for the second time in as many weeks. Louisiana Tech fans had a pig roast prior to the season opener in Ruston, La., on Friday, Feb. 2. Arkansas is 1-0 this season in games where the opposing team has a pig roast prior to the game.

• LHP Nick Schmidt is a preseason first-team All-American by Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball, NCBWA, Rivals.com and the College Baseball Foundation. He was a second-team choice by Baseball America.

• Schmidt’s 145 strikeouts in 2006 rank as the second most in school history, while his 237 career strikeouts rank fourth in school history. He is 63 strikeouts shy of Matt Carnes (1995-97) school’s record of 301.

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

• 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.

• Arkansas was picked to win the SEC Western Division by both the league coaches and Baseball America.

• The Razorbacks are a consensus top-10 team right now with their highest ranking from Collegiate Baseball at No. 5. UA also moved up one spot in the Baseball America poll to No. 6.

• The Diamond Hogs posted a 3.11-team GPA during the 2006 fall semester.

Scouting the Trojans

It will be the first meeting on the baseball diamond between the Razorbacks and Trojans. Troy head coach Bobby Pierce is in his 5th season with the Trojans. It is the opening series of the 2007 season for Troy after posting a 47-16 record last season and finishing second at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional.

The Trojans return five position starters from last year’s squad and nine total pitchers. Clint Robinson returns to anchor first base and is only 44 hits away from becoming the schools all-time leader in hits. Josh Dew is the preseason player of the year in the Sun Belt Conference. Robinson and Dew will split time at first while the other will serve as the DH, but both bats will be in the lineup. Ian Craze will patrol center field for the Trojans with Ben Woods returning to play left-field. Edgar Ramirez returns at second base and is on Baseball America’s preseason All-Sun Belt team. Craze and Dew were also named to Baseball America’s preseason All-Sun Belt team.

Troy will send right-hander Clegg Snipes to the mound on Friday night. The hard-throwing senior went 7-0 last season with a 4.87 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 77.2 innings of work. Left-hander Joe Hallahan will go to the mound on Saturday after posting a 6-3 record in 2006 with a 4.15 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 78 innings. RHP Nate Duhe will start the series finale on Sunday. The right-handed junior went 13-1 at LSU-Eunice CC last season.

Todd is Arkansas’ Answer in the Late Innings

Junior college transfer Jess Todd is just what the Razorbacks have been needing to close out games. The 6-0, 213-pound, right-hander junior out of Navarro Junior College features a 91-94 mph fastball and a 85-87 mph slider.

Todd blew away the competitor in his first series with the Hogs. He earned two saves, pitched 3.1-scoreless innings and struck out six.

He entered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning on Fri., Feb. 2, getting the K to end the inning. He then fanned two in the ninth to earn his first save.

Todd notched save No. 2 with two innings of work on Feb. 4. He struck out three and allowed two hits.

Coon’s Bat Shines Early

Casey Coon came to Arkansas has a heralded hitter and he quickly showed why. He went 3 for 3 with two doubles and two RBI in his first game as a Razorback. Coon followed that up with a 1-for-3 performance and a sacrifice fly in his second game.

He leads the team with a .667 (4 for 6) batting average, four RBI, two doubles. Coon boasts a .625 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage.

The versatile infielder can play second base, third base or shortstop. He started at second base on Feb. 3 at Louisiana Tech and then made the move to third base on Feb. 4 against the Bulldogs.

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 sprayed balls all over the field in his first week back on the diamond and is batting .222.

Defense Comes Through for Hogs

Arkansas played outstanding defense throughout the season-opening series at Louisiana Tech. The Hogs made just one error in 108 chances for a .991 fielding percentage while turning two double plays. The lone error came after Ben Tschepikow turned in an impressive effort to get to the ball after he ranged toward the second base bag and threw on the run back across his body. The throw short-hopped Danny Hamblin and first base and he wasn’t able to come up with the dig.

Walker Connects for Series Altering Home Run

Just when you thought that Louisiana Tech was going to be able to steal the season-opening series from the Razorbacks, Brian Walker came through just when it was needed most.

It was the top of the eighth inning and UA had not had a hit since the second batter of the game. Jake Dugger got the Razorbacks rolling with a leadoff single and Jerrod Carroll followed with another single to put runners on first and second with no outs as Arkansas trailed 2-1.

Head coach Dave Van Horn chose to give Walker the green light instead of having him sacrifice the runners over and it paid off. Walker drilled a 1-0 offering from Moseley deep over the center field fence for a three-run home run and an Arkansas lead.

Walker is hitting .273 after three games with a team-best four RBI and a .385 on-base percentage. He hit in all three games to extend his hitting streak to 11 games dating back to the final eight games of the 206 season. He also did his job behind the plate, gunning down 2-of-3 runners attempting to steal and picking a runner off first base.

Host of Publications Tab Schmidt First-Team All-American

Arkansas sophomore left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt was a 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 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).

Hogs Boast Deep Pitching Staff

The Razorbacks feature one of the deepest pitching staffs in recent memory in Fayetteville with the likes of Nick Schmidt and Shaun Seibert. Arkansas returns six pitchers from its 2006 staff that finished a 3.64 ERA, which is the lowest by a UA club in 15 years.

The staff also gets a boast from highly-touted junior-college transfers Jess Todd, Duke Welker and Travis Hill. Welker is ranked as the No. 70 pro prospect in college baseball by Baseball America while Todd is listed at No. 73. Schmidt leads that list for the Hogs at No. 13.

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.

Preseason Polls Tout Razorbacks

The 2007 preseason polls have Arkansas predicted to be among the best teams in the country. The Razorbacks are a consensus top-10 team in the five preseason polls. The No. 4 ranking by Collegiate Baseball was the highest preseason ranking in school history. Baseball America and the USA Today/Coaches’ Poll ranked the Hogs seventh, while UA checked in at No. 8 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll and No. 9 by Rivals.com.

Preseason Polls Ranking Current

Collegiate Baseball 4th 5th

Baseball America 7th 6th

USA Today Coaches 7th 7th

NCBWA 8th 8th

Rivals.com 9th 7th

SEC Coaches Pick Hogs in SEC West

The Southeastern Conference coaches picked Arkansas to win the SEC’s Western division in their annual preseason poll.

The Razorbacks were picked third in the West in the 2004 and 2005 preseason polls and last in the SEC West prior to the 2004 campaign. Arkansas finished second in the SEC West last season and tied for fifth in 2005. UA proved the critics wrong in 2004 by winning the SEC title.

Arkansas garnered 66 points in the 2007 poll’s Western Division with every possible first-place vote (11). Ole Miss finished second with 53 points and Alabama finishing third with 47 points. Ole Miss received one first-place votes in the Western Division.

South Carolina was selected as the conference’s overall champion with seven of the 12 overall first-place votes. Arkansas garnered three and Vanderbilt two.

Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.

SEC Champion: South Carolina (7), Arkansas (3), Vanderbilt (2)

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. 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

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)

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 3.11-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 31 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).

Download: Arkansas Baseball Game Notes – Troy.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball