(35-14, 11-13 SEC)
Alabama Crimson Tide
(34-16, 14-10 SEC)
TV: CSS (Sun.)
Game 50: Arkansas at Alabama
Friday, May 13, 6:30 p.m. – Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
Ark: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (7-1, 2.45 ERA)
Ala: 23 Wade LeBlanc, LHP (4-3, 3.92)
Game 51: Arkansas at Alabama
Saturday, May 14, 4 p.m. – Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
Ark: 34 Shaun Seibert, RHP (5-1, 2.82 ERA)
Ala: 32 Brandon Belcher, LHP (4-0, 4.53 ERA)
Game 52: Arkansas at Alabama (CSS)
Sunday, May, 15, 11 a.m. – Sewell-Thomas Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
Razorbacks Travel to Alabama to Face SEC West Leader The Arkansas baseball team travels to SEC Western Division leader Alabama this weekend for a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series opens Friday at 6:30 p.m. with Saturday’s game scheduled for 4 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale slated for 11 a.m.
The 18th-ranked Razorbacks (35-14) are fighting for a bid into the SEC Tournament with a 11-13 mark in league action. The top eight teams qualify for the tournament with Arkansas currently on the outside as the No. 9 seed. The Hogs are tied for eighth place with Vanderbilt and Auburn, but the Commodores own the tiebreaker.
Alabama, ranked 13th nationally, has a 34-16 overall record and a 14-10 mark in SEC play. The Crimson Tide is tied with LSU atop the SEC West standings, but own the tiebreaker over the Tigers after taking two-of-three games from LSU earlier this season.
Arkansas’ LHP Nick Schmidt (7-1, 2.45 ERA), one of the leading contenders for SEC Freshman of the Year, will pitch opposite last year’s Freshman of the Year Wade LeBlanc (4-3, 3.92 ERA) of Alabama on Friday night. Saturday the Hogs will start RHP Shaun Seibert (5-1, 2.82 ERA) against the Crimson Tide’s LHP Brandon Belcher (4-0, 4.53 ERA). Both teams are undecided on a starting pitcher for Sunday.
Alabama’s .292 batting average ranks eighth in the SEC, while its 3.63 ERA is tied for sixth. The Crimson Tide’s pitching staff does lead the league in strikeouts with 9.5 per nine innings. Arkansas is scoring seven runs per game and hitting .313 (third in the SEC) with 51 home runs. The Razorbacks’ pitching staff boasts the SEC’s fifth-best ERA at 3.59 and are holding opponents to a .250 batting average.
A Look at the Rotation Friday: Nick Schmidt, LHP – Schmidt has quickly become the ace of the Razorbacks staff, and one of the best young pitchers in the country. The tall, left-handed freshman from High Ridge, Mo., is 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA, having allowed just four earned runs over the past 27.1 innings. Schmidt also leads the team in strikeouts with 61 in 73.1 innings and opponent batting average a .216 after tossing the first complete game of his career in a 4-1 win over Florida. Schmidt’s fastball has consistently been clocked at 90-92 mph, and topped out at 94 mph.
Saturday: Shaun Seibert, RHP – Seibert has had a little bit of a roller coaster season. The freshman from Edwardsville, Ill., has outstanding numbers at 5-1 with a 2.82 ERA, but has struggled with his control and consistency at times this season. He has been pitching better over the past several weeks out of the bullpen. Seibert has allowed just five earned runs over his eight outings that spans 20 innings. Sunday: TBA – The Arkansas coaching staff will decide on a starting pitcher following Saturday’s game.
Scouting the Crimson Tide Alabama enters the weekend series with a 34-16 overall record and a 14-10 mark in SEC play. The Crimson Tide is tied for 1st in the SEC Western Division with LSU, but owns the tiebreaker and is currently the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament. Alabama is coming off of a series loss at Mississippi State.
Alabama sports one of the SEC’s best pitching staffs with a rotation of Wade LeBlanc (4-3, 3.92 ERA) and Brandon Belcher (4-0, 4.53 ERA). The Crimson Tide has a 3.63 team ERA and leads the SEC on strikeouts per nine innings with 9.5. David Robertson handles the closer duties for UA with a 6-3 record, a 1.96 ERA and six saves.
Gabe Scott leads the Alabama offense that is hitting .292 and scoring 6.4 runs per game. Scott has reached base in 39 consecutive games for the Crimson Tide and is hitting .411 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI. Allen Rice is Alabama’s second leading hitter at .317. Evan Bush has provided the power and run production with a team-high 14 home runs and 47 RBI, while hitting .285. Looking back at the Week
Saturday, May 6: Arkansas 4, Florida 1 – Nick Schmidt completely dominated the Florida Gators with the first complete game of his career. Schmidt scattered just seven hits, striking out seven and walking just one for his seventh win of the season. Danny Hamblin and Clint Arnold both went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
Saturday, May 7: Arkansas 3, Florida 2 – Charley Boyce pitched 5.1-scoreless innings of relief to earn his eighth win of the season. The win captured the Hogs third SEC-series win of the season. Clint Arnold plated the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning with a RBI ground out. Scott Hode went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Sunday, May 8: Florida 11, Arkansas 10 – The Razorbacks scored nine runs over the final four innings, including four in the bottom of the ninth, but came up one run short as the Gators held on for a 11-10 win. UF jumped out to a 10-1 lead before the Hogs furious comeback. A questionable call in the ninth at home plate kept Arkansas from tying it up on Clay Goodwin’s home run.
Van Horn Reaches 700 Win as Head Coach Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn won his 700th game as a college head coach on Saturday, May 7, against Florida. He has coached exactly 1,000 games (700-300 record) as a head coach from the junior college ranks to his current position with the Razorbacks. Van Horn was 214-72 at Texarkana Community College, 51-11 at Central Missouri State, 106-65 at Northwestern State, 214-92 at Nebraska and is currently 114-60 at Arkansas.
Nick Schmidt Honored as SEC’s Top Pitcher Arkansas’ left-handed freshman Nick Schmidt earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors this week after his complete game win over Florida. The High Ridge, Mo., native is 7-1 on the season with a 2.45 ERA and a team-best 61 strikeouts. Schmidt has allowed just four earned runs over his last 27.1 innings of work.
Hogs Struggle in Tuscaloosa To say Arkansas has struggled in Tuscaloosa over the last nine years would be an understating the situation. The Razorbacks have not won a game in Tuscaloosa since Saturday, May 6, 1995, a span of 12 straight games. During that time the Hogs have won just six of 30 games against the Crimson Tide, all in Fayetteville. Last year’s series win in Fayetteville was the first for Arkansas since winning the first two games of the 1995 series in Tuscaloosa.
Hamblin Gets Tryout for USA Baseball Arkansas first baseman Danny Hamblin was one of the first 13 players invited to participate in the 2005 USA Baseball National Team Trials on June 27-30 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hamblin leads the Razorbacks in batting average (.358), home runs (10), RBI (42), doubles (16), slugging percentage (.636) and on-base percentage (.433).
The 2005 USA Baseball National Team will be selected from a pool of 36 players and be managed by Baylor Head Coach Steve Smith. Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn will be an assistant on the team along with John Cohen of Kentucky and Rob Walton of Oral Roberts. The 20-man team roster will be announced on July 1.
Noting the Razorbacks … Arkansas just missed a conference sweep of fourth-ranked Florida last weekend at Baum Stadium … The 19th-ranked Razorbacks took the first two games of the series with outstanding pitching from starter Nick Schmidt on Friday night and excellent long-relief work by Charley Boyce on Saturday … The Gators held on Sunday for an 11-10 win after the Hogs had battled back from a nine-run deficit (10-1) … The comeback bid fell short in the bottom of the ninth inning after scoring four runs … three of those runs came on a two-out three-run home run by Clay Goodwin … Schmidt, a freshman left-hander, dominated Florida on Friday night, allowing just one run and striking out seven in the first complete game of his career … The win improved Schmidt to 7-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.45 ERA … he is 4-1 in SEC play with a 2.58 ERA … Schmidt has only allowed four earned runs in his 27.1 innings of work … Saturday saw Charley Boyce throw 5.1-scoreless innings in relief to win his eighth game of the season … Boyce has a 1.96 ERA in 11 appearances and 36.2 innings since moving to the bullpen on April 6 … freshman Ben Tschepikow has burst onto the scene over the past several weeks for the Hogs … Tschepikow, a Fayetteville, Ark. native, moved into the everyday lineup after second baseman John Henry Marquardt was lost with a knee injury against LSU … he is hitting .432 for the season, but was even better against the Gators, hitting .500 with five hits in 10 at bats … he also had three RBI and played a flawless second base … another freshman Clint Arnold also had a big weekend with five hits … Senior Scott Hode broke out of his RBI slump with five RBI over the weekend, including a season-high three on Sunday … Hode’s five RBI this weekend account for 25 percent of his RBI this season … Goodwin tied a career high with four RBI on Sunday and set a new single-season high with 36 … he also hit his fifth home run of the season to set a new career high … the Baum Stadium attendance was strong again this week with a 22,394 paid attendance this weekend and 16,652 in actual attendance … Arkansas has sold over 175,385 tickets this season.
Marquardt/Dugger Day-to-Day With Knee Injuries Arkansas’ starting second baseman John Henry Marquardt and starting left fielder Jake Dugger are questionable for the Alabama series with knee injuries. Marquardt has missed the last eight games after having his knee scoped on Monday, May 2. He has not played since the Saturday, April 23, game with LSU. Marquardt replaced Scott Bridges at second base when he was suspended. He is hitting .375 with two home runs and 23 RBI. Dugger missed the Florida series after reinjuring his knee on Wednesday, May 4 in practice.
Razorbacks 18th in RPI Arkansas is 18th in the latest Boyd’s World ratings percentage index. The Razorbacks have the sixth-best RPI among SEC teams. Florida is sixth in the RPI with Mississippi ranked 10th, Auburn in 12th, LSU 13th and Vanderbilt 16th.
Arkansas/Texas Pan-American Cancel Mid-Week Series Arkansas’ mid-week series with Texas Pan-American that was scheduled for May 17-18, at Baum Stadium has been cancelled.
The Razorbacks had over-scheduled by one game with the expectation of losing at least one game to rain. Since the Hogs have not lost a game this season to weather, the second game of the series, scheduled for Wednesday, May 18, had to be cancelled to stay under the NCAA mandated 56-game limit. With the series reduced to one game, it was then mutually agreed upon by both schools that it was not in the best interest of Texas Pan-American to travel to Fayetteville for just one game.
Hogs Break SEC Series Attendance Record Arkansas broke the SEC series attendance record against LSU on April 22-24 with 26,007 tickets sold. The previous mark was held by Mississippi State with 25,868 against Georgia. Arkansas drew 25,091 in actual attendance. On Friday, 8,806 tickets were sold with 8,593 fans in attendance. Saturday was the Hogs first regular-season sellout (9,133) with 9,012 fans at the game. The Razorbacks broke the record on Sunday with 8,068 tickets sold and 7,486 fans in attendance.
Boyce Regains Swagger in Bullpen A move to the bullpen was just what the doctor order for Arkansas’ junior right-hander Charley Boyce. Since making the move to the pen after his Saturday, April 2, start at Auburn, Boyce has a 1.96 ERA, a 4-2 record and three saves. He has made 11 appearances out of the bullpen and pitched 36.2 innings – seven more innings than any Arkansas starter during that stretch. He has allowed just eight earned runs. Boyce has struck out 18 and walked just four during that time.
Brian Walker Starting to Produce at the Plate Catcher Brian Walker is finally discovering how productive he can be at the plate. The redshirt freshman led the Hogs in hitting throughout the fall, but struggled through the first half of the season and never seemed to catch a break.
After letting the average dip as low as .177, the catcher with a strong arm and excellent defensive instincts, has begun to display the power he is capable of. He is hitting .326 with three home runs and eight RBI since the final game of the Tennessee series – a stretch of 12 games. He hit two home runs and drove in a career-best five RBI at SMS on April 19. Walker has raised his average to .230 on the season.
‘The HAMMER’ Powering the Hogs Offense Danny Hamblin, nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ by Hogs’ assistant coach and hitting instructor Matt Deggs and recently picked up by Baseball America’s Will Kimmey, is living up to his name. Hamblin leads the team in batting average (.358), home runs (10), hits (62), doubles (16), slugging % (.636), on-base % (.433) and total bases 110. He has been even hotter in the month of April, hitting .395 since April 2 with seven home runs and 25 RBI.
Razorbacks Ranked 18th by Coaches Arkansas moved up to 18th in this week’s Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Poll. The Razorbacks are 20th in the NCBWA poll and 26th Collegiate Baseball. Arkansas is not ranked in the Baseball America poll.
Schmidt Listed on Baseball America’s Midseason Report Freshman Nick Schmidt was listed as a freshman All-America in Baseball America’s midseason college baseball report that was released in the middle of April. Schmidt has established himself as the Hogs’ Friday night starter with a 7-1 record and a 2.45 ERA. He is second on the team with 73.1 innings pitched and leads the team with an opponent batting average of .216. The High Ridge, Mo., native has made 13 starts this season and two appearances out of the bullpen.
Gentry Sets New School Record Craig Gentry collected 10 straight hits last week to break the school record of nine set by Brett Harrison in 1983. Gentry picked up hits in his final three at bats versus SMS on April 13 and then went 4-for-4 on April 15. He broke the record on Saturday with hits in his first three at bats. He also hit his first home run as a Razorback on April 16 at Tennessee. During that stretch he hit .591 with three doubles and six RBI.
Home Run 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.
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 94 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.
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 3.21 ERA, compared to the starter’s ERA of 4.05. The Razorback bullpen has a 21-4 record and has pitched more innings than the starters (238.1 bullpen; 197.2 starters).
Fans Filling Baum Stadium at Record Pace Arkansas has already drawn 122,949 fans to Baum Stadium this season. That averages out to 4,918 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 175,385 and average 7,015. UA’s series with LSU drew 26,002 fans, which is a new SEC record.
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 19 starts. Three more players have started at least nine games.
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 fourth in career victories (24) and fourth in all-time innings pitched (288.0).
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 42 (16-38) 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 56 percent of base stealers. Arnold has thrown out 50 percent (5-10) and Parker 67 percent (4-6).
Game-Winning Hits Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with five 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 435 career Division-I wins and 700 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 35 wins this season.
Holloway Lost for Season Trey Holloway underwent 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 will not return this season, but he should eligible for a medical redshirt and could return next season for the Hogs.
Rowlett and Bridges Suspended From Team Center fielder Casey Rowlett and second baseman Scott Bridges suspended were upheld by the NCAA for the remainder of the season. The were originally suspended indefinitely on March 29. Rowlett was leading the Hogs with a .473 batting average and Bridges was second with a .410 average.
SEASON NOTES 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.
Razorbacks Get Preseason Attention
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.