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Razorbacks Host Illinois-Chicago for Three-Gam

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks Host Illinois-Chicago for Three-Gam

Arkansas Razorbacks
(9-1, 0-0 SEC)
vs.
Illinois-Chicago Flames (0-5)

Radio: Arkansas Baseball Radio Network
Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer

Game 11: Illinois-Chicago at Arkansas
Friday, March 4, 2:35 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (2-0, 2.70 ERA)
UIC: 18 Ryan Zink, RHP (0-2, 2.77 ERA)

Game 12: Illinois-Chicago at Arkansas
Saturday, March 5, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 45 Charley Boyce, RHP (1-1, 7.94 ERA)
UIC: 50 Jason Foster, RHP (0-2, 6.00 ERA)

Game 13: Illinois-Chicago at Arkansas
Sunday, March 6, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 19 Josh Smith, RHP (0-0, 2.45 ERA)
UIC: 53 Travis Kempf (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Razorbacks Host Illinois-Chicago for Three-Game Series at Baum Stadium

For the second straight weekend, Arkansas’ 14th-ranked baseball team welcomes a defending conference champion to Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks host three-time defending Horizon League champions Illinois-Chicago in a three-game series that begins at 2:35 p.m. on Friday and continues at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All three games can be heard on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network.
The Hogs are fresh off of a three-game sweep of defending Big 10 champ Minnesota to improve their record to 9-1 on the season. Arkansas moved up seven spots in both the Sports Weekly/ESPN poll and Collegiate Baseball’s rankings. UA also entered the Baseball America rankings at No. 19. The Flames are unranked and 0-5 on the season.
The Arkansas bullpen has been simply amazing this season with a 1.65 ERA in 49 innings of work. They have picked up wins in five of the Hogs nine wins and four saves. The entire staff sports a 2.70 ERA and a .245 opponent batting average. Offensively, the Razorbacks are hitting .324 as a team and averaging seven runs per game. Casey Rowlett and Scott Bridges have paced the UA attack, batting .512 and .522, respectively.
The Razorbacks will go with the same rotation as a week ago with freshman Nick Schmidt (2-0, 2.70 ERA) taking the mound on Friday. Junior Charley Boyce (1-1, 7.94 ERA) will pitch out of his familiar Saturday spot in the rotation and Josh Smith (0-0, 2.45 ERA) will most likely get his second start of the season on Sunday.

A Look at the Weekend Rotation

Friday: Nick Schmidt, LHP – Schmidt, a left-handed freshman out of High Ridge, Mo., and Vianney High School, will get his third start of the year on Friday. He is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings of work. Schmidt took a no decision last week after lasting just 3.1 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits.
Saturday: Charley Boyce, RHP – Boyce looks to recover from rough outings the past two weekends. The right-hander lasted only two-plus innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and walking three at Louisiana Tech. He then lasted just 3.2 innings at home on Saturday against Minnesota. Boyce will be looking to regain the pin-point accuracy that helped lead the Hogs to the College World Series a year ago.
Sunday: Josh Smith, RHP – Sophomore right-hander Josh Smith is expected to get his second start of the season on Sunday. He lasted 3.1 innings in his first career start last weekend against Minnesota. Smith allowed two runs on three hits and struck out two. He has seven strikeouts this season over 7.1 innings.

Scouting Illinois-Chicago

The Illinois-Chicago Flames are 0-5 on the young 2005 season. UIC ventured to Port St. Lucie, Fla., last weekend and dropped two games to Michigan at the New York Mets spring training complex. The Flames opened the season by getting swept at Evansville.
Illinois-Chicago is coached by Mike Dee who is in his seventh season with the Flames. Dee sports a 196-144 record and has led his team to three-straight Horizon League regular-season championships. UIC advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 after winning the Horizon League Tournament title.
UIC is hitting just .252 as a team and averaging three runs per game. Larry Gempp and Mark Hallberg are carrying the team offensively with .429 and .409 batting averages, respectively. The Flames pitching staff, a staple in recent years, is led by RHP Ryan Zink. He was a second-team freshman All-American a year ago after going 9-3 with a 2.07 ERA. Zink is 0-2 so far this year with a 2.77 ERA. Jason Foster will serve as the Flames Saturday starter. He is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 12 innings of work. Right-handed freshman Travis Kempf will start on Sunday. He has not pitched this year. UIC sports a 5.71 team ERA.

Looking back at Minnesota

Friday, Feb. 25: Arkansas 5, Minnesota 4 – The Razorbacks used a ninth-inning sacrifice fly off the bat of Clint Arnold to plate Scott Hode and beat Minnesota, 5-4. Trey Holloway earned the win out of the bullpen with 1.1 innings of work. Jake Dugger, Casey Rowlett and Clay Goodwin all went 2-for-3 with a RBI in the Hogs’ win.
Saturday, Feb. 26: Arkansas 5, Minnesota 4 – James Gilbert pitched 5.1 strong innings of relief to earn the win as Arkansas’ bats exploded for 12 runs in a 12-3 win. Gilbert allowed just two hits and struck out two in his third outing of the year. Casey Rowlett provided the offensive punch with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, including his first career grand slam. Jake Dugger also added two hits and four RBI in UA’s nine-hit attack.
Sunday, Feb. 27: Arkansas 5, Minnesota 4 – The Hogs used John Marquardt’s sixth-inning RBI single to complete the three-game sweep of Minnesota on Sunday, 5-4. Trey Holloway earned his second win of the weekend on the mound with four innings of scoreless relief. Marquardt and Clay Goodwin paced the Razorbacks attack with two hits each.

Hogs’ Bullpen Closing the Deal

Arkansas’ bullpen has been extremely effective early on in the 2005 season. The Hogs’ bullpen has an ERA of 1.65 in 49 innings of work this year. They have also struck out an average of 7.7 batters per nine innings, while walking only 2.9 per nine innings. Senior left-hander Trey Holloway has led the way, making five appearances and pitching 12 shutout innings.

RBRN Friday

Friday’s baseball game on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network will be heard on KZRA 1590 AM instead of KFAY 1030 AM. Saturday and Sunday’s games will go back to KFAY 1030 AM. A complete list of which network affiliates will carry the weekend’s games can be found on page five of this release.

Razorbacks Make Big Jump in Polls

Arkansas made huge jumps in this week’s national baseball polls. The Hogs made a seven-spot jump in both the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches poll and Collegiate Baseball’s rankings. UA moved up to No. 14 in the coaches poll and No. 16 in Collegiate Baseball. The Razorbacks made their first appearance of the season in Baseball America’s rankings at No. 19 and are ranked 18th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.

Holloway Shutting the Door

Holloway is 3-0 with two saves on the year in the afore mentioned 12 scoreless innings. His first win came against UTA on Sunday, Feb. 13. He entered the game in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game. Holloway struck out the first batter and got a ground ball to third base to get out of the inning. He also picked up wins on Friday and Sunday against Minnesota. On Sunday, he worked out of a bases loaded and no outs jam in the sixth inning without surrendering a run. Holloway has struck out seven batters this year, while walking only two and giving up five hits. He has inherited seven base runners this season without allowing one to score.

Maday Dominate in Relief

Right-handed sophomore Daryl Maday has been solid in his three appearances of the season. He came on in relief of James Gilbert in the fifth inning in the first game against UTA on Feb. 13. Maday retired all 15 batters he faced, striking out seven in his five innings of work. In his second outing, Maday pitched 3.1 innings, allowing one unearned run on one hit. He has not allowed an earned run in 8.1 innings of work this season, while giving up only one hit. He was a little more pedestrian in his third outing, throwing 4.1 innings, allowing his first run of the year on two hits. Maday is 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA this season and has struck out 15 and walked just four with opponents hitting just .075 against him.

Arkansas Getting it Done with Two Outs

The Razorbacks’ offense has been even more dangerous with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .328 with 24 RBI with two down. Those 24 RBI account for 38 percent of Arkansas’ total RBI. Casey Rowlett and Scott Bridges lead the way with .538 and .417 two-out batting averages, respectively.

Speed Kills for the Razorbacks again in 2005

Arkansas led the SEC with 111 stolen bases last season and appears to be a threat again in 2005. The Razorbacks have swiped 26-of-32 bases on the year, including 10 on Sunday, Feb. 20, at Louisiana Tech. Scott Bridges tied the school record in that game with four stolen bases, giving him a team-high eight on the year. He leads the team with 10 swipes with Casey Rowlett just behind with seven.

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 26 stolen bases through the first 10 games of the season. The school record for stolen bases is 155 set by Norm Debriyn’s 1983 club. Arkansas is averaging 2.6 stolen bases per game so far this season. The Razorbacks are on pace to steal 146 bases in a 56-game season, but possible SEC and NCAA tournament games could put them over the mark.

Casey Rowlett on Fire

Casey Rowlett is hitting an astounding .512 through the first 10 games of the season. He is 21-of-41 with three doubles, a triple, a home run and a team-high 12 RBI. Rowlett is slugging .707 with a .565 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases. He is the only Razorback to have hit in all 10 games this season and has seven multiple-hit games this year. He hit a robust .545 in the Minnesota series with six RBI and a home run while stealing three bases.

Freshman Clint Arnold Making a Name for Himself

True freshman Clint Arnold has been one of the Razorbacks most consistent hitters this season. He has hit in all eight-of-10 games this season. Arnold is batting .333 with two doubles and seven RBI. He has started five games behind the plate and five games in left field, while serving as the Hogs leadoff hitter in each contest.

Game-Winning Hits

Senior Scott Bridges and Casey Rowlett lead Arkansas with two game-winning hits this season. Bridges won both games of UA’s doubleheader with UTA on Feb. 13. He homered in the seventh inning to give the Hogs a 2-1 in the first game and then doubled home the winning run in the 12th inning of the second game. Rowlett’s third-innings single was the difference at Louisiana Tech on Feb. 18 and his grand slam sealed the Feb. 26 Minnesota game.

Bridges and Rowlett have Eye on Single-Season Stolen Base Record

Speedsters Scott Bridges and Casey Rowlett would like to see a 22-year-old school record fall this season. The duo has an eye on Scott Loseke’s 1983 record of 42 stolen bases in a season. Rowlett stole 22 bases last year and Bridges swiped 26, but both are off to a quick start in 2005. Bridges leads the team with 10 stolen bases t, while Rowlett has seven. Bridges is currently on an early pace for 56 stolen bases in a 56-game season, while Rowlett is on pace for 39.

Bridges has Big Weekend in Texas

Scott Bridges’ clutch hitting proved to be the difference between the Razorbacks’ 4-0 start and a 2-2 start. He cracked a two-run home run in the seventh inning of the first game on Sunday to give the Razorbacks the 2-1 win. Bridges came back in the second game to double home the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th inning in the Hogs’ 4-1 win.

Bridges Named NCBWA National Hitter of the Week

Scott Bridges was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) National Hitter of the Week (Feb. 7-13) after he drove in the game-winning runs in both games of Sunday’s doubleheader at Texas-Arlington. He batted .667 (6 for 9) with six runs scored, one double, a homer, five RBI, three walks and three stolen bases in leading the Razorbacks to two two-game sweeps of Dallas Baptist (13-3, 8-1) and UTA (2-1, 4-1). The White Hall, Ark., native finished with a 1.111 slugging percentage for the week and had a .769 on-base percentage.

Bridges also Nabs SEC Player of the Week Award

Scott Bridges’ performances against Dallas Baptist and Texas-Arlington also earned him SEC Player of the Week honors for the week of Feb. 7-13.

Schmidt Earns Spot in Starting Rotation

True freshman LHP pitcher Nick Schmidt will serve as the Razorbacks’ Friday starter in the rotation after his first three performances to open the season. He pitched five-scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven against Dallas Baptist. Schmidt went five innings in a win at Louisiana Tech, allowing just one run on four hits.

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 Razorbacks this season. While 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. Land pitched for Wake Forest last season before his injury and was 1-0 with two saves and a 0.00 ERA in 10.1 innings of work over seven appearances. Smith was never able to take the mound for the Sun Devils and is now in Fayetteville looking for a chance to prosper. Walker, a native of Tulsa, Okla. and Union High School, reshirted with Arizona State last season before making the move to Arkansas late in the summer.

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.

Returning Freshmen All-Americans Provide Spark

The Razorbacks return two freshmen All-Americans from a year ago in current sophomores Jake Dugger and Danny Hamblin. Hamblin hit .304 with an eight home runs while driving in 42 RBI. He will make the move to first base full time after serving as the Arkansas’ DH most of last season. Dugger batted .293 with eight home runs and 44 RBI in 2004. He will start in one of the corner outfield spots after being named to the SEC All-Tournament team.



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