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Pivotal SEC Series Await Razorbacks in Volunte

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Pivotal SEC Series Await Razorbacks in Volunte

Arkansas Razorbacks
(29-6, 7-5 SEC)
vs.
Tennessee Volunteers
(23-9, 7-4 SEC)

Game 36: Arkansas at Tennessee
Friday, April 15, 6 p.m. – Nelson Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (4-1, 3.03 ERA)
UT: 19 Luke Hochevar, RHP (8-1, 1.52 ERA)

Game 37: Arkansas at Tennessee
Saturday, April 16, 6 p.m. – Nelson Stadium
TV: CSS Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: TBA
UT: 13 James Atkins, LHP (5-1, 2.02 ERA)

Game 38: Arkansas at Tennessee
Sunday, April 17, 10:15 a.m. – Nelson Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: TBA
UT: TBA

Pivotal SEC Series Await Razorbacks in Volunteer Country

The Razorbacks take a 7-5 record in the SEC’s Western Division headed into this weekend’s pivotal SEC series at Tennessee. Arkansas is riding the wave of a eight-game winning streak overall and a four-game streak in conference action.
Nick Schmidt will go the mound on for the 10th-ranked Razorbacks (29-6) Friday at 6 p.m. in the series opener at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Schmidt is 4-1 with a 3.03 ERA this season and tied for the team lead with 37 strikeouts. The big freshman from High Ridge, Mo., will square off with the Volunteers ace Luke Hochevar (8-1, 1.52 ERA). Hochevar is 1-0 in four career appearances against the Razorbacks with a 1-0 record and a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings.
James Atkins will go to the hill for Tennessee on Saturday. He is 5-1 on the year with a 2.02 ERA. Arkansas’ starting pitcher for both Saturday and Sunday will be determined based on the staffs previous night’s work. Tennessee is also undecided on a starting pitcher for Sunday’s series finale.
Saturday’s game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS).
The weekend series features the SEC’s two top hitting teams in No. 1 Tennessee (.337) and No. 2 Arkansas (.325). The Vols are scoring 8.6 runs per game and are led by Eli Irog’s .387 average. The Razorbacks are scoring 8.0 runs per game with first baseman Danny Hamblin pacing the offense. Hamblin is hitting .515 over the past nine games with six of his nine home runs and 16 RBI.
Arkansas boasts the league’s fourth-best pitching staff by the numbers with a 3.25 ERA, while the Vols staff has a 3.35 ERA.

A Look at the Rotation

Friday: Nick Schmidt, LHP – Nick Schmidt will once again settle into his role as the Razorbacks’ Friday night starter. He is 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 47 innings this season. Schmidt has not got out of the third inning in his last two starts and not qualified for a decision since pitching seven innings against Mississippi State on March 25.
Saturday & Sunday: TBA – Arkansas’ starting pitcher for Saturday and Sunday’s games at Tennessee yet to be determined. The starter will be determined based on who has pitched out of the bullpen.

Scouting the Volunteers

The Volunteers sport one of the nation’s top pitchers in right-hander Luke Hochevar (8-1, 1.52 ERA) and the SEC’s top offense at .337. Arkansas and Tennessee faced off five times last season with the Hogs winning three of the five, including two of three during the season series in Fayetteville.
Hochevar takes the hill on Friday night for the Vols pitching staff that has a 3.35 ERA and a .237 opponent batting average. Left-hander James Atkins will pitch on Saturday.
The Tennessee offense leads the SEC with a .337 average. Eli Iorg is the Vols top hitter at .387 with nine home runs and 36 RBI. Julio Borbon and Chase Headley are close behind at .385.
The Volunteers enter the series with a 23-9 overall record and a 7-4 mark in the SEC’s Eastern Division.

Looking back at the Week

Friday, April 8: Arkansas 6, Vanderbilt 5 – Vanderbilt’s ninth-inning rally fell one run short as the Razorbacks held on for a 6-5 win. Charley Boyce earned the win out of the bullpen with 5.2 innings of work and Lee Land got his fourth save of the season. Danny Hamblin went 2 for 3 with a career-high four RBI.
Saturday, April 9: Arkansas 5, Vanderbilt 4 (10 innings) – Ben Tschepikow’s two-out 10th-inning single competed the Hogs come-from-behind win. John Henry Marquardt tied the game with a two-out two-RBI single in the ninth inning. Josh Smith earned his first win as a Razorback with four-scoreless innings of relief.
Sunday, April 10: Arkansas 3, Vanderbilt 0 – The Hogs picked up their first SEC shutout since March 23, 2002 (10-0 over Alabama) on Sunday with a 3-0 win to complete the series sweep. Scott Hode went 2 for 2 and Clay Goodwin was 2 for 4 in the win.
Tuesday, April 12: Arkansas 15, ORU 8 – Arkansas cracked a school-record eight home runs with Danny Hamblin hitting three and Blake Parker two. Hamblin finished with 14 total bases, just one off the school record of 15 held by Ryan Lundquist.
Wednesday, April 13: Arkansas 14, SMS 5- Charley Boyce got the win out of the bullpen to improve to 7-4 on the year. Blake Parker and Danny Hamblin also homered in the game as the Razorbacks pulled away with a four run fifth inning after SMS took the lead with a five-run fourth inning.

Hamblin Tearing the Cover Off the Ball

After getting off to a slow start this season sophomore Danny Hamblin has been dialed in over the past nine games. The Rowlett, Texas, native is hitting .515 since April 2 at Auburn with six home runs and 16 RBI. He has been even hotter over the past week (7 games), hitting .560 with six home runs, 13 RBI and a 1.400 slugging percentage. Hamblin is hitting .371 on the season with a career-best nine home runs and a .717 slugging percentage.

Razorbacks #3 in RPI After Sweep of Vanderbilt

Arkansas entered the week with a No. 3 ranking in the pseudo-RBI that is calculated by Boyd’s World and Warrennolan.com. In the Boyd’s World rankings, the Hogs are tied with Florida and College of Charleston with a 0.634 average. Tulane leads with a 0.658 average and Texas is second at 0.637.

SEBaseball.com Tags Hogs as #7 National Seed

SEBaseball.com came out with its NCAA Tournament projections this week with Arkansas garnering a No. 7 national seed and a chance to host regional. Joining the Razorbacks in Fayetteville Reigonal according to SEBaseball.com is two-seed Missouri and three-seed Wichita State.

Schmidt Listed on Baseball America’s Midseason Report

Freshman Nick Schmidt was listed as a freshman All-American in Baseball America’s midseason college baseball report that was released this week. Schmidt has established himself as the Hogs’ Friday night starter with a 4-1 record and a 3.06 ERA. He is second on the team with 47 innings pitched and an opponent batting average of .223. The High Ridge, Mo., native has made nine starts this season and one appearance out of the bullpen.

Record Falls at ORU

Arkansas connected for a team-record eight home runs at Oral Roberts on Tuesday, April 12, at J.L. Johnson Stadium. The eight home runs bested the previous record of seven set on May 23, 1985, in the NCAA South II Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., against Eastern Kentucky. Danny Hamblin led the way by tying a school record of three home runs in a game. Blake Parker went deep twice with John Henry Marquardt and Ben Tschepikow also connecting for home runs.

Razorbacks Back in the Top 10

Arkansas moved up to 10th in this week’s Baseball America poll and Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches poll. Collegiate Baseball has the Hogs ranked 15th and the NCBWA lists the Razorbacks at No. 21.

Goodwin Catching Fire

That past nine games has been good for senior Clay Goodwin as well. He has raised his average from .255 to .306 with a .441 average during that time. Goodwin has also had the best season of his Arkansas career in run production with 30 RBI this season, just two RBI short of his career high.

Arkansas Getting it Done with Two Outs

The Razorbacks’ offense has been just as dangerous with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .315 with 88 RBI with two down. UA’s .315 average is the best mark in the SEC. Craig Gentry is hitting .444 with two outs and John Henry Marquardt leading the team with a .458 average.

Speed Kills for the Razorbacks Again in 2005

Arkansas led the SEC with 111 stolen bases last season and they are doing it again in 2005. The Razorbacks have swiped a league-best 82 bases, including 11 on Sunday, March 13 against Eastern Illinois. Scott Bridges tied the school record earlier this season with four stolen bases against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 20, a game where the Razorbacks stole 10 bases as a team.

School Stolen Base Record a Possibility in 2005

With most of the Razorbacks starting lineup a threat on the base paths, Arkansas could make a realistic run at the school record for stolen bases in a season. The Hogs have 82 stolen bases through the first 35 games of the season. The school record for stolen bases is 155 set by Norm Debriyn’s 1983 club. Arkansas is averaging 2.34 stolen bases per game so far this season. The Razorbacks are on pace to steal 131 bases in a 56-game season. But with postseason play the record is still a possibility for the 2005 Hogs.

Bullpen Getting it Done for the Hogs

Arkansas bullpen has been the most trusted component to the Hogs’ 2005 pitching staff. The Hogs’ pen boasts a 2.71 ERA, over a run better than the starter’s ERA of 3.84. The Razorback bullpen has a 18-1 record and has pitched more innings than the starters (163 bullpen; 150 starters). Arkansas is actually 17-4 this season with the starting pitcher goes less than five inning.

Fans Filling Baum Stadium at Record Pace

Arkansas has already draw 79,957 fans to Baum Stadium this season. That averages out to 4,442 per game in actual attendance. The SEC reports tickets sold instead of actual attendance and the Hogs have sold the second most tickets in the SEC at 121,228 and average of 6,735. UA’s series with Vanderbilt drew 21,361 fans, which was the second-most fans to attend a series last weekend (Texas at Nebraska, 22,595). Hogs Feature Deep Bench
After playing virtually the same lineup all of last season, Head Coach Dave Van Horn has more flexibility this season. Arkansas has 16 position players that have made starts this season with 12 of those making at least 10 starts.

Boyce Climbing Arkansas Career Charts

Charley Boyce is climbing up the Arkansas career record books each time he takes the field. The junior from Tulsa, Okla., is eighth in games started (41), tied for fifth in career victories (23) and sixth in all-time innings pitched (265.2).

Arkansas Catchers Gunning Them Down

One of the biggest questions of the off-season was who was going to replace Brady Toops behind the plate for the Hogs. That question was answered rather quickly with the emergence of freshman Brain Walker. He has thrown out 50 (11-22) percent of runners that have tried to steal on him. Walker had thrown out six straight base runners and was 5 for 5 in conference play before Saturday’s game at Auburn. Blake Parker and Clint Arnold have also seen time behind the plate and have combined with Walker to throw out 53 percent of base stealers. Arnold (5-10) and Parker (3-4) have gunned down 57 percent each. The Hogs are third in the SEC having thrown out 15 runners.

Dugger Providing Power for Razorbacks

Sophomore Jake Dugger has supplied the power in the 10th-ranked Razorbacks lineup this season. He is second on the team in home runs with eight and leads the team in RBI (35). He also leads the Razorbacks in multiple RBI games with 11. To enhance his run production, Dugger is 4 for 4 this season with the bases loaded.

Game-Winning Hits

Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with four game-winning hits this season. Clay Goodwin is close behind with three. Ben Tschepikow has the Hogs only walk-off it this season.

Van Horn Gets 100th Win at Arkansas

Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn won his 100th game as the skipper of the Razorbacks on Wednesday, March 23 at Centenary. He became the quickest coach in school history to 100 wins, accomplishing the feat in just 148 games. Van Horn has 429 career Division-I wins and 694 in his head-coaching career. He took over the Razorback program in 2003 and led them to 35 wins and followed that with 45 wins and a trip to the College World Series in 2004. Van Horn has led his Hogs to 29 wins this season.

Holloway Could Be lost for Season

Trey Holloway will undergo surgery on Friday, April 8 to place a screw in his left elbow after suffering a stress fracture his elbow against Centenary on March 23. Holloway could return for the stretch run in late May. He is also eligible for a medical redshirt and could return next season for the Hogs.

Rowlett and Bridges Suspended Indefinitely

Center fielder Casey Rowlett and Scott Bridges were suspended indefinitely on March 29. Rowlett was leading the Hogs with a .473 batting average and Bridges was second with a .410 average. No time table has been set for their return.

SEASON NOTES
Razorbacks Get Preseason Attention

Coming off the SEC Championship and a trip to the College World Series last season, Arkansas has the college baseball world’s attention heading into the 2005 season. The Razorbacks were ranked 24th by the Preseason Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll and 26th in Baseball America’s preseason rankings. Collegiate Baseball also ranked the Hogs at 33rd. Arkansas is currently ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll and 29th in the NCBWA poll.

SEC Coaches Pick the Razorbacks 3rd in the Western Division

The Southeastern Conference coaches picked Arkansas third in the SEC’s Western division in their annual preseason poll.
The Razorbacks were picked last in the SEC West prior to the 2004 campaign and proved the critics wrong by winning the SEC title. Arkansas garnered 46 points in the 2005 poll’s Western Division behind LSU’s 66 points and 11 first-place votes and Ole Miss’ 51 points and one first-place vote.

Van Horn Named USA Baseball Assistant for Summer of 2005

USA Baseball and 2005 National Team Head Coach Steve Smith of Baylor picked Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn to serve as an assistant coach on the 2005 USA Baseball National Team.
The team will represent the United States this summer internationally. Joining Van Horn as assistants will be Kentucky Head Coach John Cohen and Oral Roberts Head Coach Rob Walton. Steve Smith of Baylor will serve as Team USA’s head coach this summer. In June, USA Baseball will invite 36 of the nation’s top freshman and sophomore collegiate players to the USA Baseball National Team Trials in Raleigh.

Hamblin, Boyce Second-Team All-SEC Picks SEBaseball.com

First baseman Danny Hamblin and starting right-handed pitcher Charley Boyce were picked to SEBaseball.com’s second-team preseason All-Conference team, while shortstop Scott Hode was a third-team selection. SEBaseball.com also picked the Razorbacks to finish third in the SEC Western Division this season, behind LSU and Ole Miss.

Transfers to Play Important Role for Arkansas

Division-I transfers Josh Smith (Arizona State) and Lee Land (Wake Forest) will play an important role on the mound for the Hogs this season. Catcher Brian Walker, another ASU transfer, will get the start behind the plate. Both Smith and Land are coming off arm injuries last season, but are ready to go for the 2005 season.

Razorbacks Pick Captains for 2005

The Razorbacks selected their 2005 captains by a vote of the team prior to the start of the season. Senior outfielder Casey Rowlett, senior shortstop Scott Hode and junior pitcher Charley Boyce were chosen to represent the Razorbacks this season.



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