Arkansas Razorbacks (6-1, 0-0 SEC)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-0)
Radio: Arkansas Baseball Radio Network
Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer
Game 8: Minnesota at Arkansas
Friday, Feb. 25, 2:35 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (2-0, 0.90 ERA)
UM: 35 Josh Krogman, RHP (04: 3-1, 4.39 ERA)
Game 9: Minnesota at Arkansas
Saturday, Feb. 26, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 45 Charley Boyce, RHP (1-1, 9.39 ERA)
UM: 48 Marcus McKenzie, LHP (04: 0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 10: Minnesota at Arkansas
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: Josh Smith, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
UM: 36 Josh Oslin, RHP (04: 1-1, 5.06 ERA)
Razorbacks Open 2005 Home Schedule The 21st-ranked Arkansas baseball team opens its home schedule on Friday at 2:35 p.m. in the friendly confines of Baum Stadium at George Cole Field against Minnesota (0-0) in a battle of defending SEC champs versus Big 10 champs. The Razorbacks are 6-1 on the season after opening on the road for the first time since 1994 with a seven-game swing through Texas and Louisiana. The three-game series with the Golden Gophers continues on Saturday and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
It will be the Hogs’ first time in front of the home fans since they swept Florida State in the Fayetteville Super Regional last June to advance to the CWS. Arkansas is 2-0 in home openers under Head Coach Dave Van Horn and 33-5 in home openers dating back to 1967 when comprehensive results are available. All three games can be heard on RBRN.
The Razorbacks are hitting .331 as a team with three of their top hitters from last year (Jake Dugger, .241; Danny Hamblin, .250; Clay Goodwin, .200) struggling at the plate. The pitching staff has been solid with a 2.71 ERA and a .254 opponent batting average.
Arkansas will send left-handed freshman Nick Schmidt to the hill in Friday’s opener and follow with right-handed Charley Boyce in his regular role on Saturday. Schmidt is 2-0 on the year with a 0.90 ERA, while Boyce is 1-1 with a 9.39 ERA. Sophomore transfer Josh Smith will get his first career start as a Hog on Sunday. The hard-throwing right-hander has yet to allow a run in four innings of work out of the bullpen this year.
A Look at the Weekend Rotation Friday: Nick Schmidt, LHP – Schmidt, a left-handed freshman out of High Ridge, Mo., and Vianney High School, has been the Razorbacks most consistent starter early in the season. He has allowed only one run in 10 innings of work. Schmidt has 10 strikeouts against only four walks. Opponents are hitting just .212 versus the 6-4 lefty.
Saturday: Charley Boyce, RHP – Boyce looks to recover from a rough outing at Louisiana Tech last weekend. The right-hander lasted only two-plus innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and walking three. 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 will get his first start in a Razorbacks’ uniform on Sunday. He has worked four-scoreless innings in relief this season and allowed just three hits. Smith has struck out five of the 14 batters he has faced this year. He earned a save in his first appearance as a Hog on Feb. 13 in a 4-1 win over Texas-Arlington.
Scouting Minnesota The Golden Gophers open their 2005 season season on Friday night at Baum Stadium. Minnesota posted a 38-23 overall record last year and a 21-10 mark in Big 10 play. They have won the past three Big 10 regular-season titles and are picked by Baseball America to win their fourth straight. The Gophers also broke the Big 10 record for best two-season conference wins total with 45 Big 10 wins in 2003 and 2004.
Minnesota returns six players that received All-Big 10 honors a year ago. Preseason third-team All-American Andy Hunters occupies first base for the Golden Gophers, while Jake Elder catches and Mike Mee will DH. UM also returns David Hrncirik at third base, Matt MacLean at second base and Matt Fornasiere at shortstop.
The Gophers lost their top two starters from last year’s team in Glen Perkins (9-3, 2.83 ERA) and Craig Molldrem (6-3, 3.62 ERA), but return closer John Gaub (2-1, 2 sv, 1.85 ERA). Minnesota’s Friday starter RHP Josh Krogman returns the most experience with 12 starts a season ago and a 3-1 record. UM will send LHP Marcus McKenzie to the hill on Saturday (first year with UM) and RHP Josh Oslin (2004: 1-1, 5.06 ERA) will start on Sunday.
Arkansas in Home Openers The Razorbacks historically have been outstanding in home openers with a 33-5 record dating back to the 1967 season. The Hogs have won 10 straight home openers dating back to a 5-4 win over Missouri Southern in 1995. Kansas was the last team to spoil Arkansas’ home opener, beating the Razorbacks 5-3 in 1994. Missouri Southern has opened the Razorbacks home schedule the most times over the past 38 years. The Lions have served as the opening day opponent 14 times, all since 1978, with Arkansas boasting a perfect 14-0 record in those games.
Not the First Arkansas Home Opener for Minnesota This weekend’s series will not be the first time Minnesota has visited Fayettville to open the Razorbacks’ home schedule. The Golden Gophers were the opponent in the 1970 home opener, defeating the Hogs 10-1 in the first game of a doubleheader on March 28. It was the first home game of legendary Head Coach Norm DeBriyn’s career. UA came back and beat the Gophers in game two, 8-7.
Hogs’ Bullpen Closing the Deal Arkansas’ bullpen has been extremely effective early on in the 2005 season. The Hogs’ bullpen has an ERA of 1.95 in 32.1 innings of work this season. They have also struck out an average of 7.8 batters per nine innings, while walking only 3.1 per nine innings. Senior left-hander Trey Holloway has led the way, making three appearances and pitching 6.2 shutout innings. He is 1-0 with two saves on the year. Holloway’s 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.
Maday Dominate in Relief Right-handed sophomore Daryl Maday has been completely dominant in his two 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. Maday has struck out 10 and walked just two with opponents hitting just .037 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 .346 with 16 RBI with two down. Those 16 RBI account for 37 percent of Arkansas’ total RBI. Casey Rowlett and Scott Hode lead the way with .556 and .545 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 19-of-21 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.
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 19 stolen bases in through the first seven games of the season. The school record for stolen bases is 155 set by Norm Debriyn’s 1983 club. Arkansas is averaging 2.7 stolen bases per game so far this season. The Razorbacks are on pace to steal 152 bases in a 56-game season, but possible SEC and NCAA tournament games could put them over the mark.
5th Inning Most Productive for Hogs The Razorbacks’ bats have exploded in the fifth inning this season. Arkansas has scored 16 runs in the fifth frame, twice as many as any other inning (eight in the second inning).
Freshman Clint Arnold Making a Name for Himself True freshman Clint Arnold has been one of the Razorbacks most consistent hitters this season. He and Casey Rowlett are the only Arkansas players to have hit in all seven games this season. Arnold is batting .393 with a double and five RBI. He has started three games behind the plate and four games in left field, while serving as the Hogs leadoff hitter.
Game-Winning Hits Senior Scott Bridges leads 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.
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 eight stolen bases through seven games, while Rowlett has four. Bridges is currently on an early pace for 64 stolen bases in a 56-game season, while Rowlett is on pace for 28.
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.
Rowlett Off to a Hot Start Senior Casey Rowlett is off to a blazing start in 2005. The Jones, Okla., native is batting .500 with 15 hits in 30 at bats. He has two doubles, a triple and six RBI to go along with a .545 on-base percentage and a .633 slugging percentage. Rowlett is also playing sparkling defense in center field, including two highlight reel catches in the season opener at Dallas Baptist. Rowlett also got his first career start at second base, the position he was recruited to play, against Dallas Baptist on Saturday, Feb. 12. He also leads the team in multiple hit games with five.
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 two 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.