HOOVER, Ala. – Nick Schmidt recorded the first complete-game shutout of his career with a two-hit gem Wednesday morning over Alabama in the opening round of the SEC Tournament at Regions Park.
The 6-0 win over the Crimson Tide was the first shutout over an SEC team away from Baum Stadium since Todd Abbott’s no-hitter at Vanderbilt on April 1, 1994. It was also the first SEC Tournament win for the Razorbacks since 2004.
Dave Van Horn’s Hogs improve to 39-18 on the season and advance to play the winner of the South Carolina/Florida game at 5 p.m. Thursday at Regions Field. Alabama falls to 31-25 on the season.
“This was one of the better games that we have played lately,” Van Horn said. “We had some timely hitting backed up with some outstanding pitching. We created some runs and got some big two-out hits.”
The win for Schmidt was his career-best 10th win of the season and the first complete-game shutout since March 23, 2002, when Gary Hogan Jr. did it against the Crimson Tide.
Schmidt took a no-hitter into the top of the eighth inning when Brandon May led off with a seeing-eye single that Tim Smalling was able to knock down in the hole between shortstop and third base but did not have a throw. Brandon Belcher then had an infield single between the pitcher and second base in the top of the ninth inning. The two hits allowed by Schmidt were the fewest in SEC Tournament history.
Almost forgot in the outstanding effort by Schmidt was Danny Hamblin’s third-inning home run that tied him with Ryan Lundquist (1996-99) for the career home run record at Arkansas with 56. It was his 21st blast of the season, which is the second-most in a single season in school history. Hamblin’s three-run, two-out home run to left field gave the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead.
Arkansas’ running game led to the first run in the third inning as Casey Coon came around to score on Brian Walker’s RBI single to center field. Coon singled with one out and then stole second base.
A walk to Wayne Hrozek in the sixth inning led to the Hogs’ sixth run. He stole second base and then moved to third on a slow-roller to shortstop by Smalling. Jake Dugger then laid down a beautiful bunt-base hit down the third-base line to score Hrozek. Dugger’s bunt came to rest about an inch inside the foul line at the cut of the grass at third base.
The Razorbacks jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Hrozek’s two-out RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the second inning. Hamblin walked and stole second base to get into scoring position for Hrozek.
Dugger’s two hits paced the Hogs, who collected seven as a team. Arkansas was at its best with runners in scoring position against Alabama, going 4 for 7 (.571). UA also got five two-out RBI in the game.
Postgame Notes – Arkansas vs. Alabama, May 23, 2007 – Regions Park
· Arkansas’ 6-0 win mark the first victory in the SEC Tournament since 2004. The Hogs went 2-2 that season with wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee. UA had lost five straight in the SEC Tournament.
· The 6-0 shutout mark the Razorbacks’ first shutout of an SEC team away from Baum Stadium since April 1, 1994, when Todd Abbott no-hit Vanderbilt in Nashville.
· Arkansas is now 15-23 all time in the SEC Tournament.
· The Hogs are 34-9 this season when they score first.
· The Razorbacks were 4 for 7 (.571) with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. UA was also 4 for 12 (.333) with two outs, including five two-out RBI.
· Nick Schmidt’s complete-game shutout was the first by a Razorback since Gary Hogan Jr. did it on March 23, 2002, against Alabama.
· The two hits allowed by Schmidt were the fewest in SEC Tournament history.
· It was the first-two hitter by the Hogs’ pitching staff since Schmidt and Devin Collis combined t o two-hit Hawai’i last season.
· Schmidt has a career-best five complete games this season and eight during his career.
· Danny Hamblin connected for the 56th home run of his career against Alabama on Wednesday to tie Ryan Lundquist (1996-99) for the career record at Arkansas.
· He has hit 21 home runs on the season, which is the second-most in a single season. Lundquist holds the school record with 24 in 1997.
· Hamblin is now hitting .329 over the last 40 games with 20 home runs, 12 doubles, 47 RBI, an .803 slugging percentage and a .401 on-base percentage. He began the year hitting .119 (5 for 42).
· Wayne Hrozek drove home the Hogs’ first run in the second inning with a two-out single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to five games.
· It was Schmidt’s 17th start of the season, matching his 2005 and 2006 totals. The 17 starts are tied for the sixth-most in a single season with Matt Carnes’ 1996 season.
· Schmidt’s 10 wins are a career best and tied for the eighth-most in a single season in school history.
Download: AR57 – 5.23.07 (SEC01).pdf