comscore script

SEC West Title on the Line against Ole Miss

BY ANDRES FOCIL
SEC West Title on the Line against Ole Miss

Arkansas Razorbacks (37-16, 17-10)

vs.

Ole Miss Rebels (33-20, 14-13)

Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 54: #21 Ole Miss at #10 Arkansas

Thursday, May 17, 7:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

AR: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (9-2, 2.95 ERA)

OM: 39 Will Kline, RHP (5-2, 3.79 ERA)

Game 55: #21 Ole Miss at #10 Arkansas

Friday, May 18, 7:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

AR: 28 Jess Todd, RHP (7-2, 2.95 ERA)

OM: Lance Lynn, RHP (6-4, 2.80 ERA) or TBA

Game 56: #21 Ole Miss at #10 Arkansas

Saturday, May 19, 2:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

AR: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (5-4, 3.84 ERA)

OM: 43 Nathan Baker, LHP (6-2, 3.84 ERA) or TBA

SEC West Title on the Line against Ole Miss

No. 10 Arkansas welcomes No. 21 Ole Miss to Baum Stadium this weekend for the final regular-season series of 2007 with the SEC Western Division Championship on the line.

The three-game set gets started at 7:05 p.m. Thursday, a day earlier so teams can prepare for the SEC Tournament that begins Wednesday, May 23 at Regions Park. The second game of the series is slated for 7:05 p.m. Friday with the finale at 2:05 p.m. Saturday.

All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett calling the action. The Thursday and Friday games will be webcast live inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com.

Arkansas (37-16, 17-10) enter the series two games back of Vanderbilt for the overall SEC lead and holds a two-game edge over Mississippi State in the SEC West. The Hogs boast a 20-6 record at Baum Stadium this season.

Ole Miss is coached by Mike Bianco, who is in his seventh season at Ole Miss. The Rebels are 33-20 on the season with a 14-13 record in Southeastern Conference action.

The series opener features the Razorbacks’ ace Nick Schmidt (9-2, 2.95 ERA) opposite Ole Miss’ senior right-hander Will Kline. It will be Kline’s second start vs. the Hogs this season. He went seven innings at the Metrodome on March 2, earning a no decision, allowing two runs on four hits.

The Hogs send their hottest pitcher, right-hander Jess Todd, to the mound on Friday night. Todd is 8-2 on the season with a 2.95 ERA, but in his last four starts is 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 32.2 innings of work. The Rebels have not announced a starting pitcher for the game but the likely candidate is sophomore flame-thrower Lance Lynn (6-4, 2.80 ERA, RHP).

RHP Duke Welker will start for the Hogs in the series finale. He is 5-4 on the year with a 3.84 ERA, but will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak. The Rebels have not named a starting pitcher.

Arkansas leads the all-time series 30-21, but Arkansas has lost four straight in the series and 10 of the last 13. The Razorbacks boast a 14-8 edge in Fayetteville.

Leading Off …

The Razorbacks host Ole Miss in the final regular-season series of the 2007 season. The Hogs lead the all-time series 30-21, but have lost four straight and 10 of their last 13 to the Rebels. UA does boasts a 14-8 edge in Fayetteville, but Ole Miss did win the March 2 meeting at the Dairy Queen Classic inside the Metrodome, 5-4.

The Hogs are two games back of Vanderbilt (19-8) for the SEC overall lead and hold a two-game edge on Mississippi State in the SEC West.

Nick Schmidt was one of 10 pitchers named as semifinalist for the Roger Clemens Award on Thursday.

The Razorbacks are hitting .301 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Tim Smalling leads the way with a .394 average. Ben Tschepikow and Logan Forsythe are right behind at .352 and .348, respectively.

UA has also been impressive with two outs this season. The Hogs are hitting .302 with two down with 144 two-out RBI, which is second in the SEC. Casey Coon leads the way with 25 two-out RBI while Danny Hamblin and Jeff Nutt have 16. Logan Forsythe has the best two-out batting average at .400 with Coon close behind at .380.

Arkansas has been hit by a school-record 95 pitches in 53 games this season (1.79 per game). The mark leads the SEC this season. The old school record of 94 set in 2003.

The Hogs rank third in on-base percentage (.399) in the SEC and second in runs scored (430) and second in doubles (117).

In SEC games only, UA ranks either first or second in 10 offensive categories, including slugging percentage (2nd, .478), on-base percentage (1st, .394), runs scored (2nd, 195), home runs (2nd, 37), RBI (2nd, 180), doubles (2nd, 62), hit by pitches (1st, 51), total bases (2nd, 452), walks (2nd, 118) and sacrifice flies (1st, 17). The Hogs also rank third in stolen bases with 29.

Casey Coon’s 66 RBI rank second in the SEC while Danny Hamblin has moved into eighth place with 54. Hamblin is tied for fifth in RBI in SEC games with 29.

Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with 20 home runs, which leads the league lead and fifth nationally, while his 14 home runs in SEC games are also the most in the SEC. The 20 home runs are also tied for the second-most in school history. Arkansas’ 67 home runs as a team rank second in the SEC. Hamblin earned SEC Hitter of the Week honors after batting .462 with two home runs and eight RBI vs. Florida.

Brian Walker is once again turning it on during the second half of the season. The junior is hitting .309 over his last 28 games with six doubles, six home runs and 19 RBI.

Nick Schmidt was named one of 50 semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award in early May.

Nick Schmidt claimed his fourth-career SEC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game victory at Tennessee on Friday, March 30. Jess Todd was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week after earning two wins over then-No. 1 Vanderbilt.

Schmidt and Todd both threw back-to-back complete games at Georgia and Auburn. The Hogs have an SEC-best five complete game in league play and six overall.

Danny Hamblin’s 213 career RBI rank second all time at Arkansas. He is 20 shy of career record holder Ryan Lundquist (233).

Arkansas is 3-0 this season in extra inning games and their first hit came on April 21 when Danny Hamblin’s solo home run beat the Georgia. The Hogs had not gotten a single hit in its first two extra-innings wins. UA benefited from a error, intentional walk and a fielder choice to beat Illinois State. UA then beat Vandy in 10 innings when Sean Jones scored from second on a sacrifice fly deep into the right-center field gap after reaching base on a hit by pitch.

Shaun Seibert injured this right elbow in the fourth inning on Sunday, March 11, and will be out for the season. He will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday, March 22.

The Hogs are 4-3 in games played on TV this season.

Scouting the Rebels

Ole Miss enters the weekend ranked 21st nationally in the USA Today/Coaches Poll with a 33-20 record. The Rebels are three games behind Arkansas in the SEC West standings at 14-13 in league play. Ole Miss is coached by seventh-year skipper Mike Bianco.

The Rebels boast a .314 team batting average with 45 home runs and 87 doubles while scoring 6.4 runs per game. Zach Miller leads the way a .394 with a .473 on-base percentage. The Henry brothers, Jordan and Justin, are close behind at .388 (Jordan) and .384 (Justin). Team USA shortstop last summer, Zack Cozart is hitting .318 with five home runs and 41 RBI. Cody Overbeck (12 home runs) and Logan Power (nine home runs) supply the power. Overbeck has also driven in a team-best 47 runs while Power has plated 44.

The Ole Miss pitching staff is one of the best in the league if not the country. The staff has a 3.41 overall ERA and a 4.03 ERA in SEC play. Will Kline, who pitched on March 2 vs. the Hogs and went seven innings allowing two runs on four hits, is 5-2 on the season and will start the opener. The remainder of the rotation has not been announced by the Rebels, but you can be sure that sophomore right-hander Lance Lynn will be in the mix. He is 6-2 on the season with a 2.80 ERA and 112 strikeouts. Scott Bittle handles the closer duties with a 2-5 record, 2.37 ERA and seven saves. Cody Satterwhite is the top arm out of the bullpen with a 3-2 record and 1.80 ERA.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – LHP Nick Schmidt (9-2, 2.65 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his 16th start of the season on Thursday night against the Rebels after his second loss of the season last week at Alabama. He became Arkansas’ all-time strikeouts leader vs. Florida with seven Ks and he now has 331 in his career. Schmidt passed Matt Carnes (1995-97) who finished his career with 301 strikeouts. His 2.95 ERA ranks sixth in the SEC, while his nine wins are also second. He also leads the league in opponent batting average (.208) and is third in innings pitched (100.2). Schmidt is 1-1 in three career decisions vs. Ole Miss. More information: See Page 14.

Saturday – RHP Jess Todd (8-2, 2.95 ERA): Jess Todd is slated to make hits eighth start of the season and his seventh in SEC play on Friday night. He has thrown 32.2 innings in his last four starts, including back-to-back complete-game, six-hit wins at Georgia and Auburn. He is 4-0 during that stretch with a 1.10 ERA. Todd has struck out 10 in batters in three of his last five starts, including two straight (LSU and Alabama). He is 7-1 in SEC play with a 2.72 ERA. Todd is 10th nationally in strikeouts per nine at 11.66. He has struck out 95 and walked just 22 this season. Todd allowed two runs in one inning of work agist Ole Miss at the Dairy Queen Classic on March 2 inside the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. More information: See Page 15.

Sunday – RHP Duke Welker (5-3, 3.50 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make also make his 16th start of the season after his second straight loss at Alabama. He allowed five runs over five innings against the Crimson Tide. He allowed four earned runs over seven inning with five strikeouts and just one walk two weeks ago vs. LSU. Two straight inconsistent starts has him moved back to the Sunday slot in the rotation against the Tigers. He had left both of those games (at Georgia and Auburn) with leads. Opponents are hitting .211 off the right-hander, which ranks fourth in the SEC. He pitched a career-best 8.1 innings in a win over Florida four weeks ago. Welker took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Mississippi State, but took the hard-luck loss after allowing two runs on two doubles in the seventh. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a good breaking ball that he is able to throw for strikes. More information: See Page 16. Additional info on Dallas Keuchel, who could start if needed, is also available on page 17.

Hogs Rotation Among Nation’s Best

The starting rotation of Nick Schmidt, Jess Todd and Duke Welker is proving to be one of the most dominating in the country. The trio boasts a combined record of 22-8 and a 3.23 ERA over 253.2 innings this season.

The Razorbacks are 12-3 in Schmidt’s starts this season while he has thrown a career-best four complete games, including three in SEC play. He leads the league with a .208 opponent batting average.

Welker hasn’t gotten the run support he has need all season, but has still been a reliable arm that has came through when the Hogs need him most. Opponents are hitting just .220 off the 6-7 right-hander that is 5-4 with a strong 3.84 ERA.

Todd has served in a variety of roles for the Razorbacks this season. He began the year in the bullpen as the closer and has turned into a dominate starter. Todd has hurled 32.2 innings over his last four starts with four wins and a 1.1 ERA. His SEC ERA is down to a team-best 2.72 and his 11.66 strikeouts per nine innings ranks 10th nationally.

Hamblin Red Hot

Danny Hamblin had had a tough time getting the hits to fall in early in the season as he got off to a terrible start with a .119 batting average (5 for 42) at the beginning of March. But the senior continued to drive in runs and as the calendar rolls over to May, Hamblin is one of the hottest hitters on the team.

Over the last 36 games, Hamblin is hitting .341 with 10 doubles, 19 home runs, a .826 slugging percentage, a .410 on-base percentage and 44 RBI to raise his average to .284. That average goes up to .343 in conference play, including eight doubles, a league-best 14 home runs and 29 RBI. Hamblin is second on the team and eighth in the SEC with 54 RBI this season.

Hamblin continues to move up the Arkansas record book as well with each at bat. The senior ranks second in career home runs (55) – one shy of the school record of 56 by Ryan Lundquist – and first in at bats (902), second in career RBI (213), second total bases (505), sixth in walks (115) and third in hits (274).

Walker Once Again Catching Fire in the Second Half of the Season

Arkansas junior catcher Brian Walker is well known for his early season swoons. However, he is just as well known for his late season surges. Walker has made a habit of being one of the Razorbacks’ best and most consistent hitters over the second half of the season in his three years on campus.

That trend continues in 2007 as the Tulsa, Okla., native is hitting .309 with six home runs and 19 RBI over the last 22 games. His average had dipped to .183 heading into the Sunday finale against top-ranked Vanderbilt on March 25. The Hogs needed a win to capture the series and Walker’s fifth-inning grand slam proved to be all they would need in an 8-3 win. Below is a look at Walker’s second-half hitting sprees and where he was when they began.

Season 2nd-Half Numbers 1st Half Numbers

2007 .309, 6 2B, 6 HR, 19 RBI (22 gms) .177, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI (24 gms)

2006 .337, 4 2B, 6 HR, 19 RBI (32 gms) .202, 7 2B, 2 HR, 18 RBI (24 gms)

2005 .318, 6 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI (21 gms) .183, 1 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI (25 gms)

Schmidt Named Golden Spikes Semifinalist

Arkansas junior left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt was named one of 50 semifinalists for the 2007 Golden Spikes Award by USA Baseball. Schmidt has a 9-2 record, a 2.95 ERA and a .208 opponent batting average in 97 innings this season.

This year will mark the 30th consecutive year that the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award has been presented to the nation’s premier amateur baseball player. The winner’s name will be announced on June 29, 2007, during the 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Show presented by Major League Baseball.

In 2007 USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball. After accepting nominations from sports information directors across the country, a committee voted to determine the 50 semi-finalists. The names of the 50 semi-finalists will now be forwarded to a voting body of 125 who will select the five finalists and the eventual 2007 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Winner.

Forsythe Finds a Home

In and out of the lineup over the first two weekends of the season, Logan Forsythe’s name is penciled in on an everyday basis these days. Maybe the best defensive third baseman in the SEC, entering the season his bat was a question mark after hitting just .189 as a true freshman.

He has dispelled any questions about his bat over the last two months and enters the Alabama series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has not let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasts a .928 fielding percentage at third base this season with seven errors in 97 chances, all coming on throws.

Forsythe has a .346 batting average, seven home runs and a career-best 45 RBI. He is second on the team in slugging percentage at .537, is third on the team in on-base percentage at .413, and leads the team with 11 stolen bases. He has hit safely in 41of the Hogs last 48 games and in 24 of 27 SEC games this season.

Hitting When it Counts – RISP

A key to the Razorbacks’ offense in 2007 has been their hitting with runners in scoring position. Overall, Arkansas is hitting .294, but that average jumps to .301 with runners on second or third base. Tim Smalling leads the way a .394 with Ben Tschepikow and Logan Forsythe close behind at .352 and .348, respectively.

Player RISP RBI

Tim Smalling .394 (13 fro 33) 23

Ben Tschepikow .352 (19 for 54) 26

Logan Forsythe .348 (24 for 69) 45

Casey Coon .325 (25 for 77) 66

Danny Hamblin .309 (17 for 55) 54

Razorbacks Rocket Up in the RPI

The Razorbacks’ 37-16 overall record and 9-5 mark against ranked opponents have them flying high in the NCAA’s latest RPI. The NCAA began releasing its Ratings Power Index this season. The RPI is the NCAA’s official measure of team quality used by the tournament selection committee. This ranking was through the Sunday, May 6 games. There are five SEC teams among the top 14 in the country.

Pseudo-Ratings Power Index (RPI)

Record Team

1 41-11 Rice

2 43-10 Vanderbilt

3 41-11 North Carolina

4 39-14 Texas

5 40-12 Texas A&M

15 37-16 Arkansas

Big Innings Key Razorbacks’ Offense

Arkansas has made a habit out of putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard this season. The Razorbacks are averaging 8.1 runs per game and a big part of that has been innings where UA score three, four or even five-plus runs. The Hogs have scored three-or-more runs in 58 innings this season, including 16 four-run innings and 18 innings of five or more runs. Arkansas has scored seven runs in an inning four times this season and eight runs in the fifth inning on Saturday, Feb. 24, against Illinois State.

Big-Inning Breakdown

Three-Run Innings: 25

Four-Run Innings: 16

Five-Run Innings: 9

Six-Run Innings: 4

Seven-Run Innings: 4

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ series loss at Alabama last weekend caused the Hogs to slip again in week’s polls. Baseball America dropped the Razorbacks at No. 10 – down two spots – while the USA Today Coaches’ poll also moved the Hogs down three to No. 11. The Hogs fell to No. 9 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll – down three. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association slid the Razorbacks down two spots to No. 11.

Todd Returns to Dominance in Starting Role

Junior Jess Todd has started four straight SEC weekend games and turned in dominating performances in each. He started with 10 strikeouts in five innings against Florida on April 15 but did not get a decision. The next week at Georgia Todd only fanned seven but threw his first complete game as a Hog and induced four double plays. He followed a similar pattern with a complete-game six hitter at Auburn. He struck out eight with just two walks to improve to 6-2. Last week vs. LSU he hurled 8.2-scoreless innings as the Hogs shutout LSU for the first time in school history. Todd matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in the game. He matched those 10 strikeouts again at Alabama with his fourth straight win with six innings of work.

He is second on the team with 95 strikeouts and just 22 walks in 73.1 innings and leads the team with a 11.66 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He also has a 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has lowered his ERA to 2.95 from a high of 5.09 following the March 23 win over Vanderbilt. Todd is 7-1 in SEC games with a 2.72 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.

Game-Winning Hits

Coming through with the game-winning base hit is not an easy thing to do. Here we will track the Razorback players that come through in the clutch this season. Casey Coon leads the way with five game-winning hits, while Danny Hamblin has four and Tim Smalling, Jeff Nutt and Logan Forsythe have three game-winning hits each.

Date Opponent Player Result (Inning)

2/4 at Louisiana Tech Brian Walker HR, 3 RBI (8th)

2/9 at Troy Sean Jones HR, RBI (8th)

2/11 at Troy Casey Coon HR, 2 RBI (1st)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Casey Coon 2B, 2 RBI (7th)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Jacob Julius 2B, 3 RBI (1st)

2/23 Illinois State Jake Dugger 2B, 2 RBI (3rd)

3/9 Kansas Wayne Hrozek 2B, RBI (5th)

3/11 Kansas Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (6th)

3/13 Oral Roberts Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (2nd)

3/16 at Kentucky Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (1st)

3/18 at Kentucky Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (2nd)

3/21 at Centenary Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (7th)

3/25 Vanderbilt Jeff Nutt 2B RBI (1st)

4/1 at Tennessee Matt Willard 2B, 2 RBI (2nd)

4/3 Northern Colorado Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (4th)

4/4 Northern Colorado Matt Willard 3B, 3 RBI (5th)

4/8 Mississippi State Tim Smalling HR, 3 RBI (2nd)

4/14 Florida (1) Danny Hamblin 1B, RBI (4th)

4/14 Florida (2) Sean Jones 2B, RBI (3rd)

4/15 Florida Logan Forsythe 2B, 3 RBI (8th)

4/21 at Georgia Danny Hamblin HR, RBI (10th)

4/22 at Georgia Jeff Nutt 2B, 2 RBI (1st)

4/25 Wichita State Casey Coon HR, 4 RBI (1st)

4/27 at Auburn Casey Coon 1B, RBI (1st)

4/29 at Auburn Jeff Nutt 1B, RBI (1st)

5/12 at Alabama Casey Coon HR, 3 RBI (5th)

* indicates walk-off

Schmidt and Todd Both on Roger Clemens Award Watch List

Schmidt and junior-college transfer Jess Todd are on the Roger Clemens Award watch list. The Roger Clemens Award goes to the top pitcher in college baseball.

Schmidt and Hamblin on Brooks Wallace Award Watch List

Schmidt and Danny Hamblin are also on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which goes to the top player in college baseball.

Hogs Post 3.11 GPA During Fall Semester

The Arkansas baseball team proved they were truly student-athletes during the 2006 fall semester with an impressive 3.12-team grade point average. The 3.11-team GPA follows a 2.9 GPA in the spring of 2006 and a 3.15 GPA during the fall of 2005.

The Razorbacks had 32 players compile a GPA of 3.0 or better with two players, Brandon Barr and Brad Secrist, making a perfect 4.0.

Senior right-hander Brian McLelland earned his degree in chemical engineering in December. Volunteer assistant coach Bubbs Merrill also earned his degree in sociology and former Hog Clay Goodwin finished his masters in adult education.

Fourteen Razorbacks posted GPAs of 3.5 or better during the fall, including Barr (4.0), Casey Coon (3.8), Thomas Hauskey (3.81), Travis Hill (3.81), Scott Limbocker (3.8), Brian McLelland (3.71), Sam Murphy (3.81), Chad Pierce (3.60), Stephen Richards (3.8), Secrist (4.0), Shaun Seibert (3.53), Jess Todd (3.8), Ben Tschepikow (3.8) and Michael Wild (3.5).

Hogs Believed to Lead Country in Actual Attendance – Again

The NCAA and Southeastern Conference recognize paid attendance as their method of ranking attendance, but Arkansas keeps both an actual attendance and paid attendance. After 26 games at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are leading the way once again. The Razorbacks have sold 204,929 tickets for an average of 7,882 per game. UA is averaging 5,306 fans per game in actual attendance with 137,945 fans passing through the gates this season.

In 2006, Arkansas set school records in both tickets sold and attendance over 29 games at Baum Stadium, including the NCAA Regional. The Razorbacks sold 206,352 tickets for a 7,116 average (the average is second all time). A record 164,608 fans passed through the gates in actual attendance for an average of 5,676.

In 2005, the Hogs also set a then-school record in actual attendance with 146,902 fans showing up at Baum Stadium. That averages out to 5,247 fans per game and is believed to have led the country.

Baum Stadium is underwent its third expansion since prior to the 2003 season with the addition of 20 luxury suites, over 1,500 chairback seats and an expanded Hog Pen in 2007. Baum Stadium will now features 34 luxury suites, 8,237 chairback seats and a capacity of 10,737 with additional standing room only available.

In an informal survey by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led all SEC schools in actual attendance in 2005 and 2006. Below is a breakdown of both paid and actual attendance at Baum Stadium over the past four seasons.

Year Tickets Sold Actual Attendance

2007 166,181 (7,550) 108,014 (4,696)

2006 206,352 (7,116) 164,608 (5,676)

2005 200,378 (7,156) 146,902 (5,247)

2004 (regular season) 134,525 (4,204) 91,779 (2,868)

2004 (w/postseason) 188,753 (4,840) 146,007 (3,743)

2003 100,372 (3,585) 60,510 (2,161)

Download: Arkansas Baseball Notes – Ole Miss.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball