FAYETTEVILLE – The 25th-ranked Arkansas baseball team is set to open its season with a three-game weekend home series against Appalachian State.
The Razorbacks and Mountaineers are scheduled to play at 3:05 p.m. Friday, 12:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Baum Stadium. To purchase tickets, click here. For the complete set of game notes, clickhere.
No. 25 Arkansas begins its 92nd season of baseball this weekend by hosting Appalachian State. Game times are scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Friday, 12:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Arkansas enters the season ranked in two polls, coming in at 25th in Baseball America and 27th in NCBWA, which ranks 35 teams. The Razorbacks are ranked entering the first game for the third consecutive season and seventh time in the last nine years. Arkansas’ roster features 27 student-athletes who have never appeared in a game for the Razorbacks, with 23 newcomers and four coming off a redshirt in 2013. Arkansas’ 27 debut players ranks as the highest number in the SEC entering the 2014 season. Arkansas is 43-11 in season openers since the 1960 season and has won 19 in a row. The Feb. 14 start date is the earliest an Arkansas season has opened since 2007, when the Razorbacks’ first game was Feb. 2. Arkansas is 245-73-1 (.770) in February since the 1960 season. The Razorbacks were 7-2, including 7-1 at home, in February last season. Arkansas is 8-1-1, 5-0 at home, all-time on Feb. 14, 10-3, 7-1 at home, on Feb. 15 and 9-4, 7-1 at home, on Feb. 16. This weekend marks the first three of 35 games scheduled for Baum Stadium this season. Since the stadium opened in 1996, the Razorbacks are 399-158 (.716). Arkansas was 2nd in average attendance last season, which was the ninth consecutive year the Razorbacks were among the top five nationally in attendance. Junior second baseman Brian Anderson was named second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America and Perfect Game entering the 2014 season. The Razorbacks return 12 lettermen from last year’s team that advanced Arkansas to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th consecutive season. Arkansas returns six position starters, including catcher Jake Wise, infielders Eric Fisher, Brian Anderson and Brett McAfee and outfielders Joe Serrano and Tyler Spoon. On the mound, the Razorbacks return six pitchers with experience. Projected opening day starter Jalen Beeks returns after notching a team-high 29 appearances in 2013. Saturday’s projected starter, Chris Oliver, has made two starts in his career and earned the win over Alabama A&M in his only start last season.
Arkansas is the preseason No. 25 team in the Baseball America poll and ranked 27th by the NCBWA. Appalachian State is not ranked this week.
Head Coach Dave Van Horn
Dave Van Horn is entering his 12th season as the head coach of the Razorbacks. Coach Van Horn has led Arkansas to three College World Series appearances, 11 NCAA Tournament berths, one SEC overall title and three SEC Western Division titles. Coach Van Horn has a 444-245 (.644) record as the Razorbacks’ head coach, averaging more than 40 wins a season. In his career, he has an overall record of 1,029-485 (.680) as a head coach. Coach Van Horn has never faced Appalachian State as the Arkansas skipper. More information on Coach Van Horn is available on page 9.
Arkansas in season openers
The Razorbacks have been successful in season openers, posting a record of 43-11 in the first game of the regular season since the 1960 season. Arkansas has won 19 straight regular season openers, including a 9-1 victory over Western Illinois last season. Arkansas jumped out of the gate, scoring seven runs in the first three innings, and eight of the Razorbacks’ nine starters recorded at least one hit. First baseman Eric Fisher plated Arkansas’ first three runs by hitting a two-RBI double in the first inning and leading off the third with a solo home run.
Anderson named preseason All-American
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson was named a second-team Preseason All-American by Baseball America and Perfect Game this season. He started 59 games last season and earned second-team All-SEC honors. He led the Razorbacks with a .325 batting average and also led the team with 47 runs scored, 68 hits, 12 doubles, five triples, 102 total bases, 41 walks, a .488 slugging percentage and an on-base percentage of .448. In addition, he tied for the team lead with four home runs and added 36 RBI. He ranked third in the SEC in walks, fourth in the conference in triples, fifth in on-base percentage and tied for 10th in runs scored. His three triples in conference play tied for the SEC lead, and he also ranked second with a .472 on-base percentage and third with a .581 slugging percentage against conference opponents.
Six position starters return from 2013
Arkansas returns the majority of its lineup from the 2013 team, which allowed the Razorbacks to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th straight season. Catcher Jake Wise returns behind the plate, and the infield features returners Eric Fisher at first base, Brian Anderson at second base and Brett McAfee at shortstop. In the outfield, left fielder Joe Serrano and right fielder Tyler Spoon are back.
Three Razorbacks ranked among top 100 college MLB prospects
Three members of the Arkansas baseball team have been ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 college prospects for the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. Junior right-handed pitcher Chris Oliver was ranked as the 27th-best prospect, junior infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson was tabbed as the 32nd-best prospect and while junior left-handed pitcher Jalen Beeks was named the 73rd-best prospect. Arkansas’ three players on the top 100 college prospects list were tied for the fourth most in the nation. In addition, sophomore left-handed pitcher Colin Poché was ranked as the 52nd-best player in college baseball by College Baseball Daily.
Seven Razorbacks represented on Perfect Game class rankings
The Arkansas baseball team had representatives on each of Perfect Game’s top-100 rankings by class released prior to the start of the season. The Razorbacks’ only senior, catcher Jake Wise, was 30th among his class. Junior infielder Brian Anderson was 22nd and pitcher Chris Oliver 37th among their class nationally. Pitcher Colin Poche was ranked 15th among the nation’s sophomores, and pitcher Trey Killian was 62nd on that list. Two freshmen were included in that class’ ranking as well, with pitcher Dominic Taccolini 62nd and outfielder Andrew Benintendi 79th.
Three Razorbacks selected as team captains
The Razorback baseball team features three captains this season. Junior pitcher Jalen Beeks, sophomore outfielder Tyler Spoon and senior catcher Jake Wise were each selected by their teammates as team captains for the 2014 season.
Beeks appeared in a team-high 29 games, all in relief, in his first season as a Razorback in 2013. Beeks posted a 6-2 record with two saves and a 2.20 ERA and allowed less than a hit per inning, giving up 33 hits in 41 innings. Beeks ranked tied for 15th in the SEC in wins and tied for 12th in appearances. In conference games, Beeks compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.83 ERA and held opponents to a .156 batting average.
Spoon earned freshman All-America honors in 2013 after hitting .288 with four homers and a team-high 49 RBI, which ranked eighth in the SEC. Spoon, who was the only Razorback to start all 61 games last season, tied for the team high with 68 hits and was third on the team with seven stolen bases. The Van Buren, Ark., native finished second on the team with 11 multi-RBI games and fourth with 17 multi-hit games. Defensively, he only made one error in 112 chances and had six outfield assists.
Wise was selected as a team captain for the second straight season. Wise appeared in 57 games, including 52 starts, in 2013 and hit .212 with three home runs and 23 RBI. Defensively, Wise threw out 38.5 percent (20-of-52) of the base stealers who tried to run against him. Wise also had a .991 fielding percentage, committing just four errors last season.
The Arkansas baseball team continues its 10-game season-opening home stand next weekend. The Razorbacks host Eastern Illinois in a three-game series from Feb. 21-23 with game times of 3:05 p.m. Friday and 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Feb. 28-March 2, Arkansas hosts South Alabama at 3:05 p.m. Friday, 12:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. The Razorbacks conclude their home stand against IPFW on Monday, March 3 at 3:05 p.m.
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