Arkansas Razorbacks (7-2)
Illinois State Redbirds (1-2)
Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.
Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network
Live Stats: Hogwired.com
Game 10: Illinois State at #5 Arkansas
Friday, Feb. 23, 3:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (1-0, 2.40 ERA)
ISU: 42 Eric Theisen, RHP (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 11: Illinois State at #5 Arkansas
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (2-0, 2.77 ERA)
ISU: 21 Ryan Copeland, LHP (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
Game 12: Illinois State at #5 Arkansas
Sunday, Feb. 25, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 29 Dallas Keuchel, LHP (1-0, 4.32 ERA)
ISU: 7 Luke Baughman, RHP (0-1, 12.27 ERA)
Illinois State Visits Baum Stadium for a Three-Game Series
No. 5 Arkansas hosts Illinois State this weekend in a three-game non-conference series at Baum Stadium. The series opener is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Friday with game two at 2:05 p.m. Saturday and the finale at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer calling the action. The series can also be seen live over the internet inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com.
The Razorbacks come into the weekend with a 7-2 record and on a four-game winning streak after sweeping Wisconsin-Milwaukee by a combined score of 44-6 last week. Illinois State is 1-2 on the season after opening on the road at the Texas-Arlington Invitational. The Redbirds dropped the season-opener to UTA, 7-3, before rebounding with a 9-0 win over New Mexico. No. 19 Nebraska handed ISU another 7-3 loss to wrap up last weekend’s play.
Arkansas leads the all-time series with the Redbirds 3-0 after sweeping the 1992 series at George Cole Field. The Hogs captured that series with a 14-3 win in game one, a 6-5 win in 10 innings in game two and a 15-4 triumph in the series finale.
All-American Nick Schmidt will take the mound on Friday afternoon. The southpaw from St. Louis, is 1-0 on the season with a 2.40 ERA. ISU will counter with right-hander Eric Theisen, who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA early in the 2007 season. He worked seven-scoreless innings and struck out nine in the Redbirds’ win over New Mexico.
Duke Welker gets his second straight start in the No. 2 spot in the Razorbacks’ rotation. He is 2-0 on the year with a 2.77 ERA. Illinois State left-hander Ryan Copeland will toe the rubber opposite Welker on Saturday. He is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA after surrendering four runs on five hits in five innings of work against Texas-Arlington.
Rookie lefty Dallas Keuchel will get his second start in a Hog uniform vs. the Redbirds on Sunday. Keuchel (1-0, 4.32 ERA) was impressive in his first start of the season holding Wisconsin-Milwaukee scoreless over five innings. ISU will send RHP Luke Baughman to the hill. He is 0-1 with a 12.27 ERA.
Leading Off …
• The Razorbacks welcome Illinois State to Fayetteville for the second time. ISU played a three game series with the Hogs at George Cole Field in 1992 with UA taking all three games.
• Arkansas closer Jess Todd has struck out 16 of the 26 batters he has faced this season. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is off the charts at 99.0 (16 K/0 BB) while he is averaging 19.64 strikeouts per nine innings. He has two saves in two chances and made four appearances this season.
• The Razorbacks are hitting .308 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Ben Tschepikow is hitting an impressive .545 (6 for 11) while Casey Coon is batting .429 with runners in scoring position.
• Redshirt freshman Brad Secrist exploded last weekend against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in his first start as a Hog. The Joplin, Mo., native went 5 for 7 with a double, triple, five runs scored and three RBI. He was 7 for 12 (.583) with four RBI and six runs scored in two starts vs. the Panthers and connected for his first career home run on Monday. He has a slugging percentage of 1.000.
• Jacob Julius, a transfer from Spaulding [Ky.] University also made a big splash for the Razorbacks last week. He hit .571 in two starts vs. UM with a double, triple, home run and four RBI. He has a slugging percentage of 1.143.
• UAW team batting average jumped 44 points vs. UM, going from .264 to .308. The Hogs’ average has bumped up 114 points in the last two weekends.
• Arkansas beat UM by a score of 28-2 in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 18. The 28 runs were the fourth-most in school history and a new Baum Stadium record.
• Casey Coon’s 19 RBI lead the SEC while his .406 batting average ranks second on the team. Freshman shortstop Tim Smalling is leading the way with a .423 average.
• The Razorbacks’ bullpen has a 4.17 ERA on the season with three saves (two by Jess Todd and one by Shaun Seibert). The bullpen has struck out 45 batters while issuing just 16 walks in 41 innings of work. What makes the bullpen’s work even more impressive is that 15 of the 20 runs allowed by the bullpen came in two games (Saturday at Louisiana Tech and Troy). The Hog pen allowed seven earned runs at Louisiana Tech on Feb. 3 and then surrendered eight earned runs in a loss at Troy on Feb. 10. The UA pen allowed just one earned run and 10 hits in 11 innings against UM.
• 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 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 Baseball America at No. 6 and a No. 7 ranking in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
• The Diamond Hogs posted a 3.12-team GPA during the 2006 fall semester.
Scouting the Redbirds
It will be the first meeting on the baseball diamond since a three-game series at George Cole Field on March 6-8, 1992. UA swept all three games from the Redbirds by scores of 14-3, 6-5 (10) and 15-4. ISU is currently coached by Jim Brownlee, who is in his fifth season as the head catch of the Redbirds and his 28th as a Division-I head coach at guiding Evansville from 1980-2002. Illinois State went 20-33 under Brownlee’s guidance las season.
The Redbirds bring a deep squad to Baum Stadium this weekend. ISU returns six position starters in 2007 and three starting pitchers, including right-handers Eric Theisen (Friday) and Luke Baughman (Sunday). Freshman lefty Ryan Copeland will get the nod on the mound Saturday. Illinois State enters the game hitting .281 on the season with a team ERA of 4.50.
Third baseman Ryan Anetsberger returns to anchor the left side of the infield. He is hitting .500 on the 2007 season after posting a .327 average a year ago. Kevin Dubler handles the catching duties and was named to College Baseball Foundation’s "National Players of the Week" Honor Roll after hitting .400 with a home run and two doubles at the UTA Invitational.
Saturday – LHP Nick Schmidt (1-0, 2.40 ERA): Junior south paw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his four start of the season on Friday. He got a no decision after throwing six innings against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday. He continued to struggle with his control, walking four. He has struck out 13 in 15 innings of work this season and has 247 career strikeouts, which ranks fourth in school history. More information: See Page 13.
Sunday – RHP Duke Welker (2-0, 2.77 ERA): JC transfer Duke Welker improved to 2-0 after working five innings against UM in the second game of a doubleheader with the Panthers last Sunday. He earned his first win of the season after five-scoreless innings against Troy, fanning four and allowing four hits. The 6-7 right-hander is making his fourth career start. More information: See Page 14.
Monday – LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 4.23 ERA): Freshman lefty Dallas Keuchel was outstanding in his first start as a Razorback against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He allowed just two hits in five-scoreless innings, walking one and striking out three. The sinkerballer kept the ball down in the zone and used his changeup and breaking pitches effectively to earn the win. The left-hander had made three appearances out of the bullpen prior to his first start. More information: See Page 15.
Arkansas has one player, Shaun Seibert, from the state of Illinois. Seibert is in his third year with the Hogs after finishing second in the SEC in ERA last season with a 2.79 mark. He has nine career wins and two saves at Arkansas. Seibert played for Tim Funkhouser at Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Ill.
Hogs’ Offense Rolling
Arkansas found its swing in southeastern Alabama two weeks ago and then really caught fire at home last weekend against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Hogs have raised their batting average 114 points over the last six games to .308. UA hit .394 this past weekend against UM.
Arkansas beat UM by a score of 28-2 in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 18. The 28 runs were the fourth-most in school history and a new Baum Stadium record. The Hogs scored 16 runs in the series finale at Troy. It was the most runs the Hogs had scored since beating Eastern Illinois 17-2 on March 11, 2005, in Fayetteville. It was also the most runs in an opponent’s home stadium since beating Georgia 16-12 in 10 innings in Athens in 2002.
The Razorbacks have hit 13 home runs and 21 doubles in nine games this season. They boast an on-base percentage of .436 and a .508 slugging percentage. UA has recorded an amazing 25 hit by pitches in nine games (2.78 per game) and drawn 53 walks.
Razorbacks in the National Polls
Arkansas moved up one spot in this week’s Baseball America poll to No. 5 after sweeping Wisconsin-Milwaukee by a combined score of 44-6. Collegiate Baseball some how dropped the Razorbacks another spot to No. 10 this week after dropping them four spots last week. Arkansas moved up on place to No. 10 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. The USA Today/Coaches’ poll will not be released again until next week.
Todd is Arkansas’ Answer in the Late Innings
Junior college transfer Jess Todd is just what the Razorbacks has 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 has been almost untouchable in 7.1 innings over four appearances this season. He has yet to allow a run while only surrendering four singles and not issuing a single walk.
He has fanned an unimaginable 16 of the 26 batters he has faced this season. In his last two outings five of the six outs he has recorded were via the strikeout. Todd is averaging 19.64 strikeouts per nine innings.
Coon’s Bat Shines Early
Casey Coon came to Arkansas has a heralded hitter and he has quickly shown why. He is hitting .406 on the season with three home runs and a league-best 19 RBI.
Coon also leads the team in slugging percentage at .813 and is second in on-base percentage at .500. 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
The versatile infielder can play second base, third base or shortstop and may play a little outfield as well. He has two starts at second base, four starts at third base and two at DH.
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 .400 with two doubles and six RBI. He also has a .480 on-base percentage with seven walks and just two strikeouts in 25 at bats.
Freshman Smalling Making Impact for Hogs
Arkansas freshman Tim Smalling has taken over the starting job at shortstop after an impressive series at Troy two weeks ago. The Raleigh, N.C., native leads the team with a .423 batting average after hitting .545 with two doubles and three RBI in three starts against the Trojans and .455 with a double, triple, home run and four RBI vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Smalling has started six games at shortstop and made just one error in 21 chances.
Newcomers Shine vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Arkansas newcomers Brad Secrist (redshirt freshman) and Jacob Julius (junior transfer from Spaulding [Ky.] University) made a little noise last week against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The pair combined for 11 hits in 19 at bats in two starts for each.
Secrist made a run a the school record for hits in a game during the second inning of a doubleheader on Sunday. He finished one hit short (5 for 7) but doubled and scored five runs while driving in three. He hit .583 for the weekend with a double, triple, first career home run and four RBI.
Julius also started the second inning of Sunday’s doubleheader. He went 4 for 6 at the plate while scoring four runs and driving in two with his first career home run. He followed that by going 2 for 2 with a RBI and three walks in the series finale on Monday.
Defense Comes Through for Hogs
Arkansas has played outstanding defense throughout the early 2007 season. The Razorbacks are fielding .970 on the season with just 10 errors in 330 chances. The Hogs made just one error in 108 chances for a .991 fielding percentage while turning two double plays at Louisiana Tech. UA then made three errors on Friday, Feb. 9, at Troy in a steady rain, but played errorless baseball the rest of the weekend. The Razorbacks have played four error-free games this season.
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.
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 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
Baseball America 7th 5th
USA Today Coaches 8th 8th
NCBWA 8th 10th
Rivals.com 9th 7th
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).
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.
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.