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Mississippi State Visits Baum Stadium for Three-Game Series

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Mississippi State Visits Baum Stadium for Three-Game Series

Arkansas Razorbacks (24-8, 7-2)

vs.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (19-7, 5-4)

Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 33: #23 Mississippi St. at #6 Arkansas

Friday, April 6, 7:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (6-0, 1.83 ERA)

MSU: 17 Chad Crosswhite, RHP (2-1, 3.20 ERA)

Game 34: #23 Mississippi St. at #6 Arkansas

Saturday, April 7, 2:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (4-0, 3.77 ERA)

MSU: 6 Justin Pigott, LHP (2-3, 6.80 ERA)

Game 35: #23 Mississippi St. at #6 Arkansas

Sunday, April 8, 1:35 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: TBA

MSU: 12 Josh Johnson, RHP (2-1, 6.60 ERA)

Mississippi State Visits Baum Stadium for Three-Game Series

No. 6 Arkansas welcomes fellow Southeastern Conference Western Division foe Mississippi State to Baum Stadium for a three-game series at Baum Stadium.

All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer calling the action. The Friday and Sunday games can also be seen live over the internet inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com.

The Razorbacks enter the weekend having won five straight games and nine of the last 11. The Hogs boast a 22-8 overall record and a league-leading 7-2 mark in conference games. The Bulldogs are 19-7 on the season after beating Louisiana-Monroe 17-7 on Tuesday night. MSU is tied for second in the SEC West with a 5-4 league record.

The Bulldogs are hitting an impressive .355 as a team and averaging 8.8 runs per game while their pitching staff has a 5.99 ERA and an opponent batting average of .316.

Mississippi State leads the all-time series between the two clubs 37-25 dating back to the 1960 season. The Razorbacks won two-of-three games over the Bulldogs in Starkville last season for their first series win since 1999. MSU holds a 12-10 advantage in games played in Fayetteville after winning two-of-three games in 2005 and sweeping UA at Baum in 2003.

Nick Schmidt takes his usual turn in the rotation on Friday night. He is 6-0 on the season with a 1.83 ERA and 57 strikeouts. He boasts a 1-0 career record against the Bulldogs. MSU will counter with right-hander Chad Crosswhite, who is making his first start of the season. Crosswhite is 2-1 on the season with two saves, a 3.20 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.

The Saturday game will feature Arkansas right-hander Duke Welker against Bulldogs’ southpaw Justin Pigott. Welker is 4-1 on the year with a 3.32 ERA and a .194 opponent batting average. Pigott sports a 2-3 record and a 6.80 ERA in a team-high 42.1 innings.

The series finale will see Mississippi State send right-hander Josh Johnson to the hill. He is 2-1 on the season with a 6.60 ERA in 30 innings of work. The Razorbacks will likely decide between left-hander Dallas Keuchel and right-hander Jess Todd on Sunday. Keuchel is 3-1 with a 5.08 ERA while Todd is 4-2 with a 4.68 ERA.

Leading Off …

The Razorbacks are hitting .306 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Jeff Nutt and Ben Tschepikow lead the way. Tschepikow boasts an impressive .441 (15 for 34) average while Nutt is close behind with a .419 (13 for 31) RISP average. Logan Forsythe (.375) and Casey Coon (.318) also have strong averages.

One of the key battles this weekend will be MSU’s .355 team batting average against Arkansas’ starting pitchers Nick Schmidt and Duke Welker. The Bulldogs have eight hitters above .350, while Schmidt leads the SEC with an opponent batting average of .163 and Welker is fourth in the league at .194.

Arkansas has been hit by an amazing 63 pitches in 32 games this season (1.97 per game). The mark already ranks eighth in school history and is second in the SEC.

Forsythe has also been one of the hottest Razorbacks at the plate. He hit in five straight games and 25 of his last 27. He leads the team with a .369 batting average and has career-bests with six home runs and 28 RBI.

Casey Coon’s 43 RBI rank second in the SEC while his 11 doubles lead the Razorbacks and rank tied for seventh in the league.

Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with nine home runs that ranks third in the league. Arkansas’ 39 home runs as a team ranks third in the SEC.

UA ranks second in the league in on-base percentage at .408 and second in total runs scored with 276.

Nick Schmidt claimed his fourth-career SEC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game victory at Tennessee on Friday, March 30. He fanned nine to move into second place in career strikeouts at Arkansas with 291, just 10 shy of the school record held by Matt Carnes.

Danny Hamblin’s 189 career RBI rank third all time at Arkansas. He is 16 shy of Jeff King (204) and 45 behind record holder Ryan Lundquist (233).

Jess Todd was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week last week after earning two wins over then-No. 1 Vanderbilt. He worked three innings and struck out five on Friday night. He then pitched the final six innings in relief on Sunday, allowing just one run on four hits.

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.

• 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 Bulldogs

Mississippi State enters the game with a 19-7 record and is tied for second place in the SEC West with a 5-4 record. The Bulldogs are 4-3 away from Dudy Noble Field this season. MSU is lead by veteran head coach Ron Polk, who is in his 28th season at the helm of the Bulldogs and his 34th overall.

MSU has produced staggering numbers at the plate this season with a .355 team batting average while scoring 8.8 runs per game. The Bulldogs have eight players with batting averages above .350. Two players, Brandon Turner (.438) and Edward Easley (.429), are hitting above .400 with Mitch Moreland close behind at .398. Easley and Moreland are close in the RBI chase with Easley at 34 and Moreland at 33. Easley also leads the way with seven home runs with Connor Powers second with six.

On the mound, Mississippi State has had a little more trouble with a 5.99-team earned run average and a .316 opponent batting average. Chad Crosswhite will replace Aaron Weatherford in the starting rotation on Friday night. Crosswhite is 2-1 on the season with a team-best 3.20 ERA. Weatherford will work out of the bullpen for the Bulldogs. Justin Pigott will throw on Saturday with a 2-3 record and a 6.80 ERA. Josh Johnson rounds out the rotation on Sunday with a 2-1 mark and a 6.60 ERA.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (6-0, 1.83 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his 10th start of the season on Friday night against the Bulldogs. He coming off of a complete-game win at Tennessee last week. His 1.83 ERA ranks second in the SEC, while his six wins are tied for the most. Schmidt boasts a 1-0 career record against the Bulldogs with a 1.29 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14 innings. Schmidt leads the SEC in opponent batting average at .163. More information: See Page 13.

Saturday – RHP Duke Welker (4-1, 3.32 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make also make his 10th start of the season after getting a no decision at Tennessee last week where he allowed just three runs in 6.2 innings of work. Opponents are hitting just .194 off the right-hander, which ranks fourth in the SEC. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a good breaking ball. More information: See Page 14.

Sunday – TBA: See pages 15 and 16 for more information on possible starting pitchers.

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 month and enters the Mississippi State series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has let anyone down either, making play after play at third base.

Forsythe has a .366 batting average, four home runs and a career-best 20 RBI. He leads the team in slugging percentage at .612, is second on the team in on-base percentage at .442 and has hit safely in 25 of the Hogs last 27 games after having a 10-game hitting streak snapped at ORU. He has two 10-game hitting streaks 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 a 6-0 record and a 1.83 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 last Friday 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 now has 291 Ks heading into Friday night’s game with the Bulldogs and is 10 shy of Matt Carnes’ school record of 301.

It will be Schmidt’s third career start against MSU. He is 1-0 against the Bulldogs with a 1.29 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14.0 innings of work. Schmidt allowed just one run on eight hits over seven innings last year in Starkville.

Razorbacks Rocket Up in the RPI

The Razorbacks’ 24-8 overall record and 4-3 mark against ranked opponents have them flying high in Boyd’s World Pseudo-RPI. The Boyd’s World RPI is a simulation of the Ratings Power Index, the official NCAA measure of team quality used by the tournament selection committee. This ranking was as of Thursday, April 5.

Pseudo-Ratings Power Index (RPI)

Rating Record Team

1 0.649 27-4 Vanderbilt

2 0.646 24-6 South Carolina

3 0.646 14-11 Long Beach State

4 0.642 26-9 Texas

5 0.629 26-6 Texas A&M

11 0.622 24-8 Arkansas

Hamblin Getting Hot and Moving Up the Record Books

Danny Hamblin got off to an absolutely terrible start to the 2007 season with a .137 (7 for 51) batting average through the first 16 games of the year.

But the senior from Rowlett, Texas, didn’t panic, he just worked a little harder and the fruits of his efforts are paying off right now. Hamblin is hitting .327 over his last 16 games with eight home runs and 20 RBI. He has raised his batting average to .229 and ranks second on the team in RBI with 29.

Hamblin continues to move up the Arkansas record book with each at bat. The senior ranks second in career home runs (44) and third at bats (817), third in career RBI (188) and total bases (437), sixth in walks (112) and tied for fifth in hits (245).

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 4-2 on the season with a 4.68 ERA and is the SEC Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago 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.

Todd will be used to secure possible wins on either Friday or Saturday. The right-hander out of Kilgore, Texas, and Navarro College could then either start on Sunday or pitch in relief again. He has made two appearances in a weekend series on four occasions this year and has two saves. Todd is second on the team in strikeouts with 48 while walking just eight batters.

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 .297, but that average jumps to .306 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow has had the most hits with RISP with 15 and a .441 average, while Jeff Nutt is close behind at .419 with RISP. Logan Forsythe is hitting .375 while Casey Coon is hitting .318. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.

Player RISP RBI

Ben Tschepikow .441 (15 for 34) 21

Jeff Nutt .419 (13 for 31) 22

Logan Forsythe .375 (15 for 40) 28

Jake Dugger .348 (8 for 23) 12

Casey Coon .353 (14 for 44) 43

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 8.6 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 36 innings this season, including nine four-run innings and 15 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.

Big-Inning Breakdown

Three-Run Innings: 12

Four-Run Innings: 9

Five-Run Innings: 7

Six-Run Innings: 3

Seven-Run Innings: 4

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ series sweep at Tennessee vaulted the Hogs up this week’s polls. Baseball America moved the Razorbacks up one spot to No. 6 while the USA Today Coaches’ poll also moved Arkansas up one place to No. 7. Collegiate Baseball jumped the Hogs up four spots to No. 3 while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll tabs the Razorbacks No. 6 and Rivals.com slides them in at No. 4.

Coon’s Bat Shines

Casey Coon came to Arkansas has a heralded hitter and he has quickly shown why. He is hitting .336 on the season with five home runs, 11 doubles and a 43 RBI.

Coon is second on the team in slugging percentage at .566 and leads in on-base percentage at .445. He connected for two home runs on Friday, Feb. 9, at Troy and then cracked two more at Centenary on March 21. He leads the team in both multiple-hit games (11) and multiple-RBI games (14).

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 .320 with six doubles a home run and 21 RBI. He also has a .397 on-base percentage with 10 walks and only eight strikeouts. Tschepikow has an impressive .441 average with runners in scoring position.

Looking Back

Then-No. 7 Arkansas completed the school’s first sweep of Tennessee in Knoxville over the weekend and then swept through two games with Northern Colorado to improve to 22-8 on the season and a SEC-best 7-2 in conference play … the Sunday, April 2 win at Tennessee marked the 500th Division-I win for Hogs’ skipper Dave Van Horn (now 502-254, .664) … the Razorbacks took the opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium with a 6-2 win on Friday night and then followed that with a 4-3 win on Saturday and a 11-7 victory on Sunday … UA then beat Northern Colorado by scores of 14-6 and 9-7 … Arkansas hit .289 as a team against the Volunteers and averaged seven runs per game … the pitching staff posted a 4.00 ERA with the starters hurling 20.2 innings over the weekend and allowing just six earned runs … the Hogs also played their best defense of the season with just one error in the three-game series for a .991 fielding percentage … the only error of the weekend came on a misplayed cutoff that allowed a Vol runner to advance to second base … Arkansas’ 7-2 conference record marks the best start to Southeastern Conference play in school history, just ahead of the 1999 team that started 6-3 in league action and finished 22-8 and league champions … Arkansas also opened up a two-game lead in the SEC West over Ole Miss … the Hogs came through in the clutch at the plate all weekend … they converted nine of 11 chances (.818) with a runner on third base and less than two outs … UA also continued its hot hitting with runners in scoring position, going 10 for 23 (.323) … the Razorbacks were even better with two outs, hitting .385 (15 for 39) with five two-out RBI … the Diamond Hogs also ran well with five stolen bases in seven tries, while limiting the vaunted Tennessee running game, allowing just two stolen bases in four attempts … UA is hitting .306 with runners in scoring position this season and .293 with two outs … Nick Schmidt threw his second complete game of the season on Friday night to improve to 6-0 on the season … it was his fifth-career complete game and his second all time against the Vols … he allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out nine and retiring seven of nine leadoff hitters … Schmidt leads the SEC with a .163 opponent batting average … he also moved into second place all time at Arkansas with 291 strikeouts and is just 10 shy of school record-holder Matt Carnes (1995-97) … Duke Welker started on Saturday and turned in his fourth straight quality start, working 6.2 innings and allowing three runs on five hits … Dallas Keuchel made the best start of his career on Sunday, working a career-high five innings … he surrendered just one run on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk … Logan Forsythe continued his hot hitting against the Volunteers with a .357 average (5 for 14) with a double, home run and three RBI … he also kept his SEC-batting average above the .400 mark at .405 … Forsythe has now hit in five straight games and 25 of his last 27 … Jeff Nutt produced the Razorbacks second-best batting average of the weekend, going 4 for 11 (.364) with a home run and three RBI … he his hitting .433 in SEC play to rank fourth in the league … Matt Willard led the way with a .375 average and two RBI … the Hogs have been hit by 63 pitches this season, which ranks eighth all time at Arkansas … Casey Coon did not get a lot of hits, but continued to find ways to drive in runs with four RBI and three vs. UNC to give him 43 on the season, ranking second in the SEC … on the career record watch Danny Hamblin is third in at bats (817), tied for fifth in hits (245), second in home runs (44), ninth in runs scored (172), third in RBI (188), third in total bases (437), sixth in walks (112) and third in extra-base hits (101) … Dugger is second all time in walks (145), 11 back of Tim Thomas’ school record of 156 and tied for ninth in hit by pitches (23) … Schmidt is tied with Charlie Isaacson for fifth in career starts (43), tied for sixth in career wins (23), sixth in innings pitched (275.1) and sixth in ERA (2.68).

Game-Winning Hits

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. Casey Coon, Danny Hamblin, Logan Forsythe, Matt Willard and Tim Smalling lead the way so far with two 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)

* 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 15 games at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are off to a quick start once again. The Razorbacks have sold 112,441 tickets for an average of 7,496 per game. UA is averaging 4,948 fans per game in actual attendance with 74,223 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 112,441 (7,496) 74,223 (4,948)

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: 07 Arkansas Baseball Notes – Mississippi State.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball