(20-2, 2-1 SEC)
Mississippi State Bulldogs
(15-3, 2-1 SEC)
Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network
Talent: Chuck Barnett & Rick Schaeffer
Game 23: Mississippi State at Arkansas Friday, March 25, 6:35 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (4-0, 2.20 ERA)
MSU: 12 Alan Johnson, RHP (1-2, 4.70 ERA)
Game 24: Mississippi State at Arkansas Saturday, March 26, 3:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 34 Shaun Seibert, RHP (3-0, 1.03 ERA)
MSU: 19 Todd Doolittle, RHP (2-1, 4.70 ERA)
Game 25: Mississippi State at Arkansas Sunday, March 27, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
UA: 45 Charley Boyce, RHP (3-2, 4.15 ERA)
MSU: 25 Jon Crosby, RHP (3-0, 1.76 ERA)
Razorbacks Open SEC Home Schedule with Mississippi State Arkansas returns home after a five-game road trip for its SEC home opener with Mississippi State on Friday at 6:35 p.m. at Baum Stadium. The fifth-ranked Razorbacks went 4-1 on the road swing that included taking two-of-three games at then-No. 2 South Carolina. Arkansas is 20-2 on the season and have the best winning percentage in the country at .909. Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. with Sunday starting at 1:05 p.m.
The freshman duo of left-hander Nick Schmidt and right-hander Shaun Seibert will start the opening two games of the series with junior right-hander Charley Boyce starting on Sunday. Schmidt and Seibert both pitched seven innings to earn wins at South Carolina last weekend. Schmidt is 4-0 this season with a 2.20 ERA, while Seibert is third in the SEC with a 1.03 ERA.
Casey Rowlett continues to pace the Hogs’ offensive attack with a conference leading .506 (41-of-81) average. Scott Bridges is close behind with a .431 average. Jake Dugger is powering the lineup with a team-high five home runs and 30 RBI. The Razorbacks are also leading the SEC in stolen bases with 61 with Bridges (18) and Rowlett (16) ranking one and two in the league.
Mississippi State is 15-3 on the year and 2-1 in SEC play after last weekend’s series against Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs will send RHP Alan Johnson (1-2, 4.70 ERA) to the mound on Friday, RHP Todd Doolittle (2-1, 4.70 ERA) on Saturday and Jon Crosby (3-0, 1.76 ERA) will go to the hill in the series finale on Sunday.
A Look at the Rotation
Friday: Nick Schmidt, LHP – Schmidt will look to duplicate his performance at South Carolina where the freshman went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only allowed one run on two hits for the night. He is 4-0 on the season with a 2.20 ERA and 27 strikeouts. Schmidt leads the team with 32.2 innings pitched with opponents hitting .194 against him, which ranks 10th in the SEC. Saturday: Shaun Seibert, RHP – Seibert followed the lead of fellow freshman Nick Schmidt and completely shut down the USC lineup to win his first SEC start. He allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings and struck out six. Seibert is 3-0 on the season and his 1.03 ERA ranks third in the SEC. He also leads the team with 29 strikeouts in 26.1 innings of work. Seibert has four walks and the second-best opponent batting average in the SEC (.144). Sunday: Charley Boyce, RHP – Boyce is coming off of a rough outing at South Carolina where he took the loss. He pitched three innings and surrendered three runs on three hits. Boyce has been up and down for the Razorbacks this season with a 3-2 record and a 4.15 ERA in 30.1 innings of work. He has struck out 12 batters and walked 10 this season.
Scouting Mississippi State The Bulldogs are 15-3 on the season with a 2-1 record in SEC play heading into this weekend’s series. MSU won four straight games after losing its SEC opener to then-No. 17 Vanderbilt on Friday, March 18 in Starkville. The Mississippi State offense is led by Joseph Hunter’s .433 batting average. The Bulldogs are hitting .307 as a team, ranking sixth in the league. Thomas Berkery leads the team in home runs (2) and RBI (18) and ranks second in batting average (.338). MSU’s 3.77 ERA ranks last in the SEC with opponents scoring 4.5 runs per game and hitting .252. RHP Alan Johnson will get the start on Friday night against the Hogs. He is 1-2 with a 4.70 ERA and a team-high 25 strikeouts in four starts. RHP Todd Doolittle will go to the mound on Saturday. He also sports a 4.70 ERA, but has a 2-1 record in three starts. Jon Crosby will get his second start of the season on Sunday. He is 3-0 in five appearances this season, working 15.1 innings and allowing only three earned runs.
The Mississippi State Series The Bulldogs lead the series 21-19 dating back to Arkansas’ arrival in the SEC in 1992. Ron Polk’s club has had the Hogs’ number since the turn of the century, going 10-3 against the Hogs since the 2001 season.
Looking back at Centenary Tuesday, March 22: Arkansas 10, Centenary 1 – Clint Arnold became the first Arkansas player to collect four hits in a game this season in the Hogs’ 10-1 win. Only two of Arkansas regular starters saw action in the win. Josh Smith pitched five strong innings, allowing one run on one hit. Brock Bond drove in three runs without a hit. Wednesday, March 23: Arkansas 14, Centenary 1 – Craig Gentry went 5 for 5 with a RBI and two runs scored to become the first Arkansas player to collect five hits in a game in two years. Casey Rowlett extended his hitting streak to 20 games and Clint Arnold was 3 for 3 with a walk. Arnold was 7 for 9 in the series. The Hogs pounded out a season-high 25 hits in the win.
Noting the Razorbacks Centenary Series … Arkansas swept a mid-week series from Centenary in Shreveport with a 10-1 win on Tuesday and a 14-1 win on Wednesday … the Razorbacks completed their five-game road trip with a 4-1 record, including a series win at then-No. 2 South Carolina … Head Coach Dave Van Horn won his 100th game at the helm of the Arkansas program on Wednesday … he accomplished the feat faster than any other coach in school history – just 148 games … Arkansas’ 20-2 record gives the Hogs the nation’s best winning percentage at .909 … Casey Rowlett extended his hitting streak to 20 games against Centenary on Wednesday … he is now hitting .506 for the year (41-of-81) and leads the team with 14 multiple-hit games in 20 starts … Danny Hamblin extended his hitting streak to 12 games on Wednesday … Jake Dugger’s hitting streak now sits at 10 games … Dugger increased his team-high RBI total to 30 against the Gents … Arkansas’ 20-2 start matches the second-best 22-game start in school history … the Hogs went 20-1-1 in 1982 and 20-2 in 1997 … UA pounded out a season-high and Van Horn era-high 25 hits on Wednesday … Clint Arnold went 7 for 9 in the two-game series with the Gents … he was the first Razorback to collected four hits in a game this season, going 4 for 6 on Tuesday night … Craig Gentry improved upon that on Wednesday night with a 5-for-5 performance … it marked the first time a Arkansas player had five hits in a game since the 2003 season … UA batted .412 as a team in the two-game series with Centenary … The Razorbacks are second in the SEC in attendance this season, averaging 6,748 tickets sold per game.
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 at Centenary. He became the quickest coach in school history to 100 wins, accomplishing the feat in just 148 games. Van Horn has 420 career Division-I wins and 685 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 20 wins this season.
Razorbacks Move into Top 5 Arkansas moved into the top 5 in three of the four major college baseball polls this week. The Hogs climbed fifth in the latest Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches poll, the Collegiate Baseball rankings and the NCBWA poll. The Hogs also moved up seven spots to eighth in the Baseball America poll.
Holloway Shutting the Door Holloway is 3-0 with four saves on the year. He pitched 13 innings before allowing his first run this season. He has allowed two runs for a 1.16 ERA in 15.1 innings of work. Holloway has twice entered a game with the bases loaded and either one or no outs and retired the side without allowing a run to score. Holloway is a perfect 4-for-4 in save situations this season. Holloway’s status has yet to be determined after leaving the game on March 23 at Centenary in the ninth inning with a twinge in his elbow.
Arkansas Getting it Done with Two Outs The Razorbacks’ offense has been just as dangerous with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .332 with 56 RBI with two down. UA’s .332 average is the best mark in the SEC. Casey Rowlett leads the way with .533 two-out batting averages with Scott Bridges close behind at .435. Craig Gentry is hitting .583 with two outs in limited action this season.
Hogs Off to Second-Best Start in School History Arkansas’ 20-2 start season is tied for the second-best 22-game start in school history. The best 22-game start came in the 1982 season when the Hogs opened 20-1-1. UA also went 20-2 to open the 1996 season.
Freshmen Duo Lights Out on the Hill Freshmen hurlers Nick Schmidt and Shaun Seibert were more than the then-No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks could bite off last weekend in Columbia. Schmidt opened the series by taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitching seven while striking out 11. Seibert pitched seven innings on Sunday, allowing just one run on two hits. The pair has pitched 59 innings between them with a combined 7-0 record. They have allowed just 11 earned runs (8 by Schmidt & 3 by Seibert). They also are 1-2 on the team in strikeouts – Seibert has 29 and Schmidt has 27.
Looking back at South Carolina Friday, March 18: Arkansas 9, South Carolina 1 – Freshman southpaw Nick Schmidt took a no-hitter into the sixth inning for the Razorbacks as he improved to 4-0 this season. He allowed just one run and two hits over seven innings of work. He also became the first UA pitcher to strikeout 11 batters since 1999. Blake Parker and Brian Walker homered in the win.
Saturday, March 19: South Carolina 12, Arkansas 3 – South Carolina exploded for nine runs in the fourth inning in a 12-3 win over the Hogs. Danny Hamblin paced Arkansas’ offense with two hits as Charley Boyce took the loss to fall to 3-2.
Sunday, March 20: Arkansas 5, South Carolina 3 – Danny Hamblin cracked a three-run home run in the fourth inning and Jake Dugger connected for a two-run blow in the ninth as the Hogs won the series. Freshman Shaun Seibert was almost automatic on the mound. He pitched a career-high seven innings and allowed just one unearned run on two hits.
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 61 bases, including 11 on Sunday, March 13 against Eastern Illinois. Scott Bridges and Casey Rowlett are one and two for the Razorbacks and the SEC 19 and 16 stolen bases, respectively. The Hogs have swiped 15 more bases than Tennessee, who ranks second in the SEC with 46 stolen bases. Bridges tied the school record earlier this season with four stolen bases against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 20.
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 61 stolen bases through the first 22 games of the season. The school record for stolen bases is 155 set by Norm Debriyn’s 1983 club. Arkansas is averaging 2.8 stolen bases per game so far this season. The Razorbacks are on pace to steal 155 bases in a 56-game season.
Casey Rowlett on Fire Casey Rowlett is hitting an astounding .500 through the first 22 games of the season. He is 41-of-81 with seven doubles, a triple, a home run and 22 RBI. Rowlett is slugging .679 with a .549 on-base percentage and 16 stolen bases. He sports a 20-game hitting streak and has multiple hits in 14 games this season.
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 11 of those making at least seven starts.
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 64.3 (9-14) percent of runners that have tried to steal on him. Blake Parker and Clint Arnold have also seen time behind the plate and have combined with Walker to throw out 58 percent of base stealers. Arnold (5-10) and Parker (1-2) have gunned down 50 percent each. The Hogs are third in the SEC having thrown out 15 runners.
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 19 stolen bases, while Rowlett has 16. Bridges is currently on an early pace for 48 stolen bases in a 56-game season, while Rowlett is on pace for 41.
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 double header 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. 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.
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.
SEC Numbers A quick look at Arkansas in the latest SEC statistical rankings … UA is the SEC’s second-best hitting club with a .337 batting average … the pitching staff boasts the third-best ERA at 2.60 … the Hogs rank fourth in both slugging percentage (.501) and on-base percentage (.419) … UA’s 267 hits are the second most in the league behind Tennessee’s 270 … UA is third in runs scored … second in doubles …. the Razorbacks lead the league in stolen bases (61), 14 ahead of second place Tennessee … Casey Rowlett’s .506 batting average leads the league … he also has the longest hitting streak at 20 games … he is second in on-base percentage, second in hits and second in stolen bases … Scott Bridges leads the league with 18 stolen bases … Jake Dugger is second in the league with 30 RBI … Shaun Seiberts is third in ERA at 1.03 … he is also second in opponent batting average (.144) … and tied for second in earned runs allowed with just three … Brian Walker has caught nine runners trying to steal this season, the third most in the league … UA 11 stolen bases on March 13 against EIU is th most in the league this season.
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. Land pitched for Wake Forest last season before his injury and was 1-0 with two save in 10.1 innings over seven appearances. Smith was never able to take the mound for the Sun Devils. 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. 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.