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Hogs Look to Snap SEC Skid at Mississippi Stat

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hogs Look to Snap SEC Skid at Mississippi Stat

SERIES PREVIEW

Arkansas (15-16, 2-7 Southeastern Conference) will travel to Starkville, Miss., on Thursday in hopes of ending two losing streaks in Friday’s opener of a three-game SEC series at No. 11 Mississippi State (20-5, 6-2 SEC).

The Razorbacks face MSU in hopes of snapping their four-game overall losing streak and ending a seven-game skid in conference games.

Friday’s game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT. The series continues with Saturday’s 5 p.m. CT matchup and Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. series finale.

ARKANSAS AT A GLANCE

Tuesday’s 2-1 home loss to OKLAHOMA STATE marked the Razorbacks’ fourth-consecutive loss overall and extended the Hogs’ home losing streak to nine games — the longest on record at UA.

Home-field advantage is beginning to sound like an oxymoron to the Razorbacks. Prior to this season, the Hogs had last fallen victim to a three-game sweep in a home SEC series was in 1993 when LSU left Fayetteville with three wins. This season, the Hogs are off to an 0-6 start in home league games after suffering three-game home sweeps by AUBURN and FLORIDA on consecutive weekends.

The Razorbacks’ recent woes at home are in sharp contrast to last season. In 1999, Arkansas won its last 13 home SEC games to finish the season 14-1 in home league contests.

MISSISSIPPI STATE AT A GLANCE

Led by third-year head coach Pat McMahon, Mississippi State is ranked 11th by Baseball Weekly, 13th by Baseball America and 19th by Collegiate Baseball. Like Arkansas, Mississippi State is coming off a one-run loss to a longtime rival. The Bulldogs were beaten 3-2 by Mississippi on Wednesday night in the annual Mayor’s Trophy game.

Last weekend, State lost two of three games at Alabama in a meeting of SEC Western Division rivals.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Arkansas will send true freshman RHP Gary Hogan Jr. (2-1, 3.71 ERA) to the mound in Friday’s series opener. MSU will counter with senior LHP Kevin Donovan (2-1, 5.40 ERA).

The Hogs will start senior LHP Mike Moriarity (2-1, 4.50 ERA) on Saturday against Bulldog sophomore RHP Tanner Brock (0-1, 6.66 ERA).

After throwing four innings of hitless, scoreless relief Tuesday night against OKLAHOMA STATE, junior LHP Cliff Lee (4-0, 3.29 ERA) will get the start for the Razorbacks on Sunday. MSU will start junior LHP Mark Freed (5-0, 1.67 ERA) in the series finale.

RANKIN BECOMING A FACTOR

With the loss of ace RHP Charlie Isaacson, the emergence of RHP Jeremy Rankin (2-1, 2.31 ERA) could not have come at a better time.

Rankin, a junior transfer from Vancouver, Wash., owns the Hogs’ lowest earned-run average and was highly effective in his first UA start Tuesday night against OKLAHOMA STATE. Rankin held the Cowboys to just two runs (one earned) on three hits in five innings and deserved a better fate than having to suffer his first loss as a Razorback.

One week earlier, Rankin was the winner in relief of Isaacson as the Razorbacks snapped a six-game losing streak with a 10-8 win at Oklahoma State.

SCHEDULE CHANGES

In the most recent schedule move, Arkansas and Kansas State have agreeed to cancel their two-game series scheduled for April 4-5 at Baum Stadium. The cancellation brings UA within the NCAA limit of 56 regular season games and will be a welcome break for a Wildcat team plagued by injuries.

The March 3 series opener against MIAMI (OHIO) was rained out and will not be rescheduled.

GAME TIMES CHANGED AT MSU

Game times for two of Arkansas’ games at Mississippi State this weekend have been changed. Saturday’s game is now set for 5 p.m. CT while Sunday’s series finale will begin at 1:30 p.m. CT. The Friday series opener remains scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT.

ISAACSON OUT FOR THE YEAR

A March 21 start at Oklahoma State proved to be just a brief return for preseason All-American RHP Charlie Isaacson (1-1, 5.40 ERA) after missing one month and one day with tendenitis in his throwing shoulder. After throwing 14 pitches (eight balls, six strikes) in the first inning, Isaacson took himself out of the game during warmups prior to the bottom of the second inning.

With just six innings of work and three appearances in Arkansas’ first 28 games, Isaacson will miss the rest of the 2000 season. After the season ends, the UA coaching staff and officials will petition the NCAA to count the 2000 season as a “medical redshirt” year for Isaacson and grant him an extra year of eligibility.

The Overland Park, Kan., product was the only freshman to earn first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors last season. He went 9-0 in 1999 and started 1-0 this year before suffering his first collegiate loss in a 13-2 defeat by Nebraska (2/20) in UA’s final game at the Arlington Morning News Invitational. The loss snapped Isaacson’s streak of 10-consecutive wins to start his UA career.

THE LONG BALL MATTERS

Arkansas is 11-3 this season when the Razorbacks hit a home run, but just 5-10 when allowing a round-tripper.

ARKANSAS’ LAST GAME
Oklahoma State (15-12)–2–3–3
Arkansas (15-16)–1–7–1
March 28, 2000 o Baum Stadium o Fayetteville, Ark.
WP – Matt Smith (3-4)
LP – Jeremy Rankin (2-1)
S – Rusty Rushing (5)
HR – none

Despite being out-hit 7-3, Oklahoma State made a pair of early runs hold up for a 2-1 win over Arkansas on Tuesday at Baum Stadium.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Cowboys (15-12) and avenged a 10-8 home loss to Arkansas (15-16) last Tuesday. The Razorbacks have now lost nine-consecutive home games, the longest home losing streak in the UA record books.

OSU starter Matt Smith (3-4) gave up one run (unearned) and scattered five hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out nine to earn the victory. Jeremy Rankin (1-2), the victor in last week’s UA win at Stillwater, suffered the loss Tuesday in his first career start despite giving up just three hits in five innings.

The Cowboys took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Carlos Gautreaux led off the game with a double and scored on Luke Scott’s sacrifice fly.

Arkansas committed just one error in the game, but it proved costly. It came when OSU’s Darren Heal hit a ground ball to Brad Hagedorn at second base that should have ended the top of the second inning. Instead, Hagedorn’s throw to first base was too low for Wes McCrotty to handle at first base, allowing Roy York to score from third for a 2-0 Oklahoma State lead.

The Hogs scored their lone run in the bottom of the seventh when Jon Youngblood scored from third on Jeff Fletcher’s sacrifice bunt that trickled down the first-base line.

The Razorbacks put runners at first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Rusty Rushing came out of the OSU bullpen to strikeout Kyle Washburn on a called third strike and earn his fifth save of the season. Washburn’s career-best eight-game hitting streak ended at eight games.

Arkansas left 11 runners on base, eight in scoring position.

Jack Welsh and Greg Blum led the Razorbacks with two hits each.

DeBRIYN NEARING 1,100 WINS

With a career record of 1,090-579-6, Norm DeBriyn is in his 31st season as head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. DeBriyn currently ranks ninth on the list of career victories by active coaches and needs just 10 wins to reach the 1,100-win plateau.

The Ashland, Wis., native has earned conference coach-of-the-year honors seven times. In 1999, he was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Razorbacks to a 22-8 SEC record and their first SEC overall and Western Division titles. He has guided the Hogs to four NCAA College World Series berths: 1979, 1985, 1987 and 1989.

2000 SEASON TO DATE

Arkansas opened its 2000 season with an 18-5 win over MISSOURI SOUTHERN (2/5) that included an 11-run outburst by the Hogs in the first inning. The Hogs followed that win by taking two of three games from SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE (2/11-13) at Baum Stadium. The Hogs prevailed in pitching duels of 4-3 (2/11) and 3-1 (2/12), but fell short with a late rally in an 8-7 loss (2/13).

The Hogs went 1-2 at the Arlington Morning News Invitational in Arlington, Texas, on the weekend of Feb. 18-20. LHP Cliff Lee threw a complete game in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel victory over Washington State (2/18). An 8-0 deficit was too much for a late Razorback rally to overcome as the Hogs dropped an 8-5 decision to host Texas-Arlington (2/19). RHP Charlie Isaacson suffered his first collegiate loss as the Hogs fell to Nebraska 13-2 (2/20) in UA’s final game in Arlington.

Arkansas returned to Fayetteville and opened an 11-game homestand with a 7-3 win over OKLAHOMA CITY (2/22) to snap its two-game losing streak. In his first appearance in more than a year, LHP Mike Moriarity started earned the win over OCU.

The Razorbacks ran into trouble with LONG BEACH STATE (2/25-27) as the 49ers became the first non-conference team ever to sweep a three-game series from the Hogs in Fayetteville. Long Beach State exploited UA bullpen struggles and late-inning errors to win the first and final games in the series, 9-8 (2/25) and 8-6 2/27), with a 16-3 blowout victory in the second game (2/26).

The Hogs got back on track with a two-game sweep of CENTENARY, downing the Gents 7-6 (2/29) in 10 innings in the series opener and exploding for 21-9 (3/1) victory in the finale. Arkansas managed just five hits — none after the fourth inning — in the first win over CENTENARY. The Razorbacks exorcised their frustrations at the plate in the second meeting, dropping four home runs and nine doubles in a 19-hit barrage that was stopped in the eighth inning by the 12-run rule.

UA stretched its winning streak to four games by sweeping a two-game, rain-shortened series from MIAMI (OHIO). The Hogs opened the series with a 15-5 (3/4) win and finished off the RedHawks with a 5-1 win in which LHP Mike Moriarity and LHP Cliff Lee combined for a three-hitter. Lee tossed four innings of perfect relief, striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced.

INF Kyle Washburn led Arkansas’ bats in a two-game sweep of SAINT LOUIS. Washburn had three hits in each game as the Hogs defeated the Billikens 7-4 (3/7) and 14-4 (3/8).

C Greg Blum and OF Brian Kirby each hit two home runs in Knoxville, Tenn., to help the Razorbacks open Southeastern Conference play with two wins in a three-game series at then-No. 24 Tennessee. Blum homered and collected career-highs in hits (four) and RBI (four) as the Hogs defeated the Vols 10-5 in the series opener (3/10). Two homers by Kirby and another by Blum helped the Hogs to a 14-5 blasting of the Vols in the second game (3/11). Arkansas’ hopes of sweeping the Vols for the second year in a row vanished with a 14-0 loss in the series finale (3/12). It was the Hogs’ first shutout loss since an 8-0 defeat at Long Beach State (3/7/99). The loss ended UA’s season-best eight-game winning streak and snapped the Hogs’ winning streak against the Volunteers at six. Kirby’s 11-game hitting streak — the longest of his career — and OF/1B Jack Welsh’s nine-game hitting streak came to an end, as well.

Under the direction of head coach Dave Van Horn — a former Arkansas player and graudate assistant coach — NEBRASKA continued its mastery of the Razorbacks this season with a two-game sweep at Baum Stadium. Two Nebraska left-handers making their first starts of the season, LHP Trevor Bullock and LHP Brian Rodaway, held UA bats to just 12 hits and seven runs in two games as the Cornhuskers defeated the Hogs 10-4 (3/14) and 10-3 (3/15).

The Hogs’ woes continued with a three-game home sweep at the hands of AUBURN (3/17-19). Arkansas committed 17 errors in the three game series en route to 11-6, 10-7 and 21-11 wins by the Tigers. The Hogs tied a school record with seven defensive miscues in the series finale and extended their losing streak to six — their longest since 1993.

Arkansas ended its slide with a 10-8 win over 1999 NCAA College World Series participant Oklahoma State (3/21) in Stillwater, Okla. The victory was Arkansas’ first of the season over a 1999 NCAA regional team in 10 tries and ended a streak of four-straight losses to the Cowboys.

UA contiued its Spring Break trip with another win over a Big 12 Confernce team. This time, the Hogs rallied from a 2-1 deficit after six innings for a 10-3 win at Kansas (3/22).

Arkansas’ return to Baum Stadium was anything but a happy homecoming as SEC rival FLORIDA swept a three-game series from the Razorbacks. The Gators posted a pair of 8-7, extra-inning wins to open the series (3/24, 3/25) and finished the Razorbacks off with a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the ninth for a 7-4 win in the series finale (3/26). The defeat was the Hogs’ eighth in a row at home and kept UA winless in six home SEC games.

OKLAHOMA STATE avenged its home loss of a week earlier with a 2-1 win (3/28) over the Hogs in Fayetteville, despite a three-hitter from the UA pitching staff. OSU scored a run in each of the first two innings and made them hold up, handing the Razorbacks their ninth-consecutive home defeat.

HOGS COMING OFF 1ST SEC TITLE

Arkansas is coming off its most successful season of the last decade. In 1999, the Razorbacks went 42-23 (22-8 in Southeastern Conference play), won their first SEC overall and Western Division titles and hosted an NCAA regional for the first time in school history.

WISE GUYS

Twenty-one of Arkansas’ 38 baseball student-athletes earned grade-point averages of 3.0 or better during the fall 1999 semester. Senior infielder Brad Hagedorn and junior left-handed pitcher/first baseman Wes McCrotty led the way with a 4.0 GPA. Others with a 3.0 or better are: senior catcher Greg Blum, freshman outfielder Brad Chedister, junior outfielder Jeff Hoefler, junior catcher Ryan Johnston, junior outfielder Brian Kirby, redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Josh Merryman, redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher/first baseman Jon Murphy, junior right-handed pitcher Matt Riethmaier, senior right-handed pitcher Brad Bohannan, junior outfielder/first baseman Scott Crossett, sophomore infielder Jeff Fletcher, freshman outfielder Noah Jackson, junior second baseman Bryan King, sophomore left-handed pitcher Jared Manatt, senior infielder Travis McDaniel, senior left-handed pitcher Mike Moriarity, redshirt first baseman Nick Pitts and senior center fielder Jack Welsh.

TOUGH SLATE

Arkansas’ 2000 schedule features 27 games against 11 teams that participated in the 1999 NCAA tournament, including five games against two NCAA College World Series participants.
1999 NCAA TEAM–UA’s 2000 GAMES VS.
*Alabama–3
Auburn–3 (0-3)
LSU–3
Long Beach State–3 (0-3)
Mississippi State–3
Nebraska–3 (0-3)
*Oklahoma State–2 (1-1)
Ole Miss–3
Oral Roberts–2
SMS–1
Wichita State–1
TOTAL – 11 TEAMS–27 (1-10)
* – NCAA College World Series participant

BAUM STADIUM

Now in its fourth full year of operation, Arkansas’ Baum Stadium was named the best college baseball stadium in the nation by Baseball America in its Jan. 19, 1998 issue. The list ranked the Razorbacks’ 3,300-seat home above such college baseball venues as Auburn’s Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park (No. 2), Hawaii’s Rainbow Stadium (No. 3) and Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field/Polk-DeMent Stadium (No. 4).

Designed by HOK Sport, the architects of Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baum Stadium was completed during the 1996 season at a cost of $8.9 million. Arkansas defeated AUBURN 9-2 in the facility’s inaugural contest on April 13, 1996. The stadium was officially dedicated three weeks later as the Hogs defeated ALABAMA 9-3 on May 3, 1996.

On May 28 of last year, a Baum Stadium record crowd of 6,631 witnessed Arkansas’ 10-6 win over Delaware in game one of the 1999 NCAA Fayetteville Regional. A regular season-record 5,102 filled Baum Stadium on May 1 of last season as Arkansas defeated MISSISSIPPI STATE 7-4.

RAZORBACK BASEBALL
RADIO NETWORK

For the eighth-consecutive season, every pitch of the Arkansas baseball season can be heard on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network. Spanning 21 stations (20 in Arkansas, one in Texas), the Razorback Baseball Radio Network is one of the largest collegiate baseball networks in the nation.

Flagship station KFAY (1030 AM) in Fayetteville will once again broadcast every regular season, Southeastern Conference Tournament and NCAA Tournament game.

Chuck Barrett returns to the booth for his ninth season as the network’s play-by-play announcer. Barrett has served in that capacity since the Razorbacks’ inaugural SEC campaign in 1992. He also serves as the pre-game host and producer for Arkansas football radio broadcasts. A native of Clarksville, Ark., Barrett is the host of two radio shows.

UA Associate Men’s Sports Information Director Kevin Trainor will join Barrett in the booth for selected Razorback home games for his fifth season as the color analyst for Hogs radio broadcasts. A 1994 graduate of the University, Trainor served as the sports information contact for Arkansas baseball from 1996-98 during his tenure as assistant sports information director. Trainor currently serves as the sports information contact for the Razorback basketball team.

2000 RAZORBACK BASEBALL RADIO NETWORK AFFILIATES
CITY–STATION–FREQUENCY
Benton, Ark.–KEWI–690 AM
Conway, Ark.–KASR–92.7 FM
Farmington, Ark./
Fayetteville, Ark.–*KFAY–1030 AM
Fort Smith, Ark.–KEZU–104.7 FM
Fort Smith, Ark.–KFDF–1580 AM
Fort Smith, Ark.–KWHN–1320 AM
Harrison, Ark.–KCWD–96.1 FM
Harrison, Ark.–KNWA–1600 AM
Helena, Ark.–KFFA–1360 AM/103.1 FM
Little Rock, Ark.–KARN–920 AM/102.5 FM
Little Rock, Ark./
Pine Bluff, Ark.–KKRN–101.7 FM
Ozark, Ark.–KDYN–1540 AM/96.7 FM
Newport, Ark.–KNBY–1280 AM
Northwest Arkansas—-Cox Cable
Russellville, Ark./
Ola, Ark.–KARV–610 AM/101.3 FM
Springdale, Ark./
Rogers, Ark.–KURM–790 AM
Stuttgart, Ark.–KWAK–1240 AM
Texarkana, Texas–KCMC–740 AM
*-flagship station



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