Arkansas Razorbacks (33-11, 13-5)
Auburn Tigers (27-17, 6-12)
Plainsman Park • Auburn, Ala.
Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network
Live Stats: Hogwired.com
Game 45: #7 Arkansas at Auburn
Friday, April 27, 6 p.m. – Plainsman Park
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (8-1, 2.56 ERA)
AU: 44 Evan Crawford, LHP (4-3, 5.28 ERA)
Game 46: #7 Arkansas at Auburn
Saturday, April 28, 2 p.m. – Plainsman Park
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (5-2, 2.83 ERA)
AU: 20 Taylor Thompson, RHP (4-1, 4.34 ERA)
Game 47: #7 Arkansas at Auburn
Sunday, April 29, 1:30 p.m. – Plainsman Park
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 28 Jess Todd, RHP (5-2, 3.99 ERA)
Diamond Hogs Travel to the Plains to Face Auburn
No. 7 Arkansas travels to the Plains this weekend for a three-game series with the Auburn Tigers at Plainsman Park. Things get started at 6 p.m. Friday night with game two slated for 2 p.m. Saturday and the finale at 1:30 p.m. Sunday
All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett calling the action.
The Razorbacks are coming off of a big 10-2 win over No. 10 Wichita State on Wednesday night and bring a 33-11 overall record and a 13-5 mark in SEC play. The Tigers took one on the chin in the midweek with a 5-4 loss in 16 innings at Troy. Auburn is 27-17 on the season with a 6-12 mark in league action.
The Tigers lead the all-time series 30-23 after the Razorback swept a three-game series last season in Fayetteville. AU boasts an even better record in Auburn with a 15-6 edge in the series at Plainsman Park. However, the Razorback have had more success as of late, winning eight-of-12 games since Dave Van Horn took over the Hogs’ program in 2003.
Nick Schmidt will take the mound on Friday night looking to avenge a 2005 loss at Auburn. The junior is 8-1 on the season with a 2.56 ERA and coming off of his first loss of the season at Georgia last Friday night. Auburn will start sophomore left-hander Evan Crawford who is 4-3 on the year with a 5.28 ERA.
Saturday’s contest will match the Hogs’ junior right-hander Duke Welker against the Tigers’ freshman right-hander Taylor Thompson. Welker has a 5-2 record with a 2.83 ERA and has been even better in SEC play with a 1.98 ERA. Thompson is 4-1 with a 4.34 ERA in 45.2 innings with 40 strikeouts and 24 walks.
Jess Todd will go the hill on Sunday for the Razorbacks. The junior right-hander is coming off of a complete-game victory at Georgia last week. He is 5-2 on the season with a 3.99 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 49.2 and just 15 walks. Auburn is undecided on a starting pitcher for Sunday.
Leading Off …
• The Razorbacks venture to Auburn this weekend for a three-game set with the Tigers at Plainsman Park. AU leads the all-time series 30-23 after the Hogs came away with the sweep last season in Fayetteville. The Tigers hold a 15-6 all time in games played in Auburn.
• The Hogs won have 14 of their last 17 games to improve their record to 33-11 after a 10-2 win over No. 10 Wichita State Wednesday night. Arkansas leads the SEC overall chase by a game over Vanderbilt (12-6) and the SEC West by three games over Mississippi State (9-7) and Ole Miss (10-8).
• The Razorbacks are hitting .311 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with an impressive .409 (18 for 44) average while Logan Forsythe is close behind at .357 with Jeff Nutt at .347. Danny Hamblin has his average all the way up to .326 (15 for 46).
• UA has also been impressive with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .297 with two down with 114 two-out RBI. Casey Coon leads the way with 14 two-out RBI while Logan Forsythe and Jeff Nutt have 13 while Brian Walker has 12. Jake Dugger is hitting a team-best .395 with two outs while Coon is at .350 and Forsythe at .358.
• Arkansas has been hit by an amazing 80 pitches in 44 games this season (1.82 per game). The mark already ranks fourth in school history and leads the SEC this season.
• The Hogs rank third in on-base percentage (.404) in the SEC and second in runs scored (371) and third in doubles (98). In SEC games only, UA ranks second in on-base percentage (.403), doubles (43) and second in runs scored (136).
• Casey Coon’s 51 RBI rank tied for second in the SEC while Danny Hamblin has moved into a tie for ninth in the league with 44.
• Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with 14 home runs that ranks second in the league. Arkansas’ 53 home runs as a team rank second in the SEC. Hamblin earned SEC Hitter of the Week honors after batting .462 with two home runs and eight RBI vs. Florida.
• 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.
• Danny Hamblin’s 203 career RBI rank third all time at Arkansas. He is just one shy of Jeff King (204) and 30 behind record holder Ryan Lundquist (233).
• The Arkansas pitching staff leads the league with a 3.78 ERA during SEC play. The offense has been pretty good too, ranking second in runs scored (136) and fourth in batting average (.296).
• Arkansas is 3-0 this season in extra inning games and their first hit came on Saturday when Danny Hamblin’s solo home run beat the Bulldogs. The Hogs had not gotten a single hit in its first two extra-innings wins. 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.
• The Hogs are 3-2 in games played on TV this season, after taking both games on Cox Sports Television against Florida and beating Wichita State, 10-2. UA dropped a game to Louisiana Tech in Ruston on Feb. 3 and at Georgia on April 20.
• 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 Tigers
Auburn enters the weekend series with a 27-17 record and a 6-12 mark in conference play. The Tigers are seven games off the pace in the SEC West. Head coach Tom Slater’s club has been tough to beat at home with a 20-9 mark at Plainsman Park.
The Tigers bring a .296 team batting average into the series and are scoring 7.2 runs per game, but that average falls to .260 in SEC games and 5.1 runs per game. Luke Greinke leads the team with a .358 batting average with an impressive .450 on-base percentage. Sophomore Mike Bianucci and catcher Josh Donaldson power the AU lineup. Bianucci has 13 of the clubs 32 home runs while Donaldson has driven in 45 runs with nine home runs. Auburn is a threat on the base paths with an SEC-best 92 stolen bases. Bruce Edwards leads the way with 25 stolen bases while Donaldson has 16 and Robert Brooks 15.
On the mound, Auburn has a 4.00 ERA for the year and a 5.01 average in conference play. Paul Burnside (7-1, 3.06 ERA) has been the Tigers’ ace all season, but is not penciled into the rotation this weekend. He could be an option for AU on Sunday. Sophomore left-hander Evan Crawford will get the nod on Friday night. He is making his ninth start of the season with a 5.28 ERA and a .306 opponent batting average. Freshman RHP Taylor Thompson will got to the hill on Saturday with a 4-1 record and a 4.34 ERA. Brett Butts handles most of the closing duties for the Tigers with five saves.
Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (8-1, 2.56 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his 13th start of the season on Friday night against the Tigers. He is coming off of his first loss of the season last week at Georgia. He became Arkansas’ all-time leader strikeouts vs. the Florida with seven strikeouts and he now has 311 in his career. Schmidt passed Matt Carnes (1995-97) who finished his career with 301 strikeouts. His 2.56 ERA ranks fourth in the SEC, while his eight wins are the most. He is fourth in opponent batting average (.195) and fourth in innings pitched (81.0). Schmidt boasts an 1-1 career record against Auburn with a 5.25 ERA and 19 strikeouts in two starts. He did set his career high with 15 Ks vs. the Tigers last season in Fayetteville. More information: See Page 14.
Saturday – RHP Duke Welker (5-2, 2.83 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make also make his 13th start of the season after a no decision last Saturday at Georgia. He left the game with a 6-2 lead, but UA had to rally for a run in the 10th inning to get the win. Opponents are hitting .194 off the right-hander, which ranks third in the SEC. He pitched a career-best 8.1 innings in a win over Florida two weeks ago. Welker took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Mississippi State, 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 that he is able to throw for strikes. More information: See Page 15.
Sunday – RHP Jess Todd (5-2, 3.99 ERA): Jess Todd is slated to make hits fifth start of the season and his fourth in SEC play on Sunday. He tossed his first complete game as a Razorbacks in a dominating win at Georgia where he fanned seven and induced four double plays. Todd struck out 10 Gators in five inning, allowing just two runs – both after he left the game two weeks ago. He is 5-2 on the season with a 3.99 ERA in 49.2 innings of work and two saves. Todd is seventh nationally in strikeouts per nine at 12.14. He has struck out 67 and walked just 15. 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 two months and enters the Auburn series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasts a .948 fielding percentage at third base this season with four errors in 77 chances, all coming on throws.
Forsythe has a .342 batting average, six home runs and a career-best 38 RBI. He is second on the team in slugging percentage at .533, is second on the team in on-base percentage at .414, and leads the team with nine stolen bases. He has hit safely in 33 of the Hogs last 39 games and in 16 of 18 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 an 8-1 record and a 2.56 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. His first loss came because of one bad inning at Georgia.
It will be Schmidt’s third career start against Auburn. He is 1-1 against the Bulldogs with a 5.25 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. He fanned a career-high 15 vs. Auburn last season.
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 14-3 record and 129 strikeouts this season (77 for Schmidt and 52 for Welker).
Schmidt is 8-1 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 2.83 overall ERA. He has a 1.98 ERA in SEC games, which ranks fifth in the league.
Both rank among the top in the SEC’s opponent batting average list with a .194 average for Welker (3rd) and a .195 average for Schmidt (4th). Welker has been even tougher in SEC play with a .189 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 fire over the last 27 games, hitting .327 with eight doubles, 13 home runs, a .792 slugging percentage, a .413 on-base percentage and 34 RBI to raise his average to .261. That average goes up to .324 in conference play, including six doubles, eight home runs and 19 RBI. Hamblin is second on the team and seventh in the SEC with 44 RBI.
Hamblin continues to move up the Arkansas record book as well with each at bat. The senior ranks second in career home runs (49) – seven shy of the school record of 56 by Ryan Lundquist – and third at bats (865), third in career RBI (203), second total bases (471), sixth in walks (114) and third in hits (261).
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 5-2 on the season with a 3.99 ERA and was 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 tossed a complete-game, six-hitter at Georgia on April 22.
He is second on the team with 67 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 49.2 innings and leads the team with a 12.14 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He also has a 4.5 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 Tigers. 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 .296, but that average jumps to .311 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with a .409 average, while Logan Forsythe is close behind at .357 with RISP. Jeff Nutt is hitting .347 while Danny Hamblin has jumped up to .326. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.
Player RISP RBI
Ben Tschepikow .409 (18 for 44) 24
Logan Forsythe .357 (20 for 56) 38
Tim Smalling .379 (11 for 29) 21
Jeff Nutt .347 (17 for 49) 33
Danny Hamblin .326 (15 for 46) 44
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 51 innings this season, including 14 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.
Three-Run Innings: 20
Four-Run Innings: 14
Five-Run Innings: 8
Six-Run Innings: 4
Seven-Run Innings: 4
Eight-Run innings: 1
Razorbacks in the National Polls
Arkansas’ series win at Florida was big for the Hogs in this week’s polls. Baseball America moved the Razorbacks at No. 7, while the USA Today Coaches’ poll kept Arkansas at No. 8. Collegiate Baseball jumped the Hogs up one spot to No. 3 while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll actually dropped the Razorbacks to No. 8. Rivals.com moved UA up two spots to No. 6.
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 .306 with seven doubles a home run and 24 RBI. He also has a .392 on-base percentage with 14 walks and only 12 strikeouts. Tschepikow has an impressive .409 average with runners in scoring position.
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 leads the way with four game-winning hits, while Tim Smalling, and Casey Coon and Logan Forsythe have three 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)
4/21 at Georgia Danny Hamblin HR, RBI (10th)
4/22 at Georgia Jeff Nutt 2B, 2 RBI (1st)
4/25 Wichita State Casey Coon HR, 4 RBI (1st)
* 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 23 games – 22 dates – at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are leading the way once again. The Razorbacks have sold 166,180 tickets for an average of 7,550 per game. UA is averaging 4,926 fans per game in actual attendance with 108,363 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 166,180 (7,550) 108,363 (4,926)
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 – Auburn.pdf