Tempe, Ariz. – For the fourth time in program history, and second consecutive season, the University of Arkansas baseball team has advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. The 15th-ranked Razorbacks will face Arizona State, the tournament’s No. 1 national seed, in the Tempe Super Regional beginning Saturday at Packard Stadium. The winner of the best-of-three series will secure its spot in the 2010 College World Series.
Saturday’s opener will be televised by ESPNU with an 8 p.m. (CT) first pitch. Game two, and if necessary, game three, will be televised by ESPN2. Justin Kutcher and Morgan Ensberg will be in the booth to handle the play-by-play and color commentary duties for each broadcast. All games of the Tempe Super Regional will also be available via live stream at ESPN3.com.
Arkansas and Arizona State have played six times with each team coming away with three wins during the all-time series. This weekend’s matchup will mark the third consecutive season the programs will square off. The Sun Devils swept a two-game midweek series in Tempe during the 2008 season. Arkansas returned the favor last season with a pair of victories in Fayetteville. The two teams first met in the 1989 NCAA Midwest Regional, a 1-0 triumph for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas (43-19) won the Fayetteville Regional with an opening-game victory over Grambling and two wins over Washington State, including Monday’s winner-take-all contest. Six Razorbacks were named to the All-Region Team, headlined by Most Outstanding Player Collin Kuhn. The Beaver Dam, Wis., native hit .412 (7-for-17) with four home runs, seven RBI and eight runs scored over four games. He was joined by teammates Brett Eibner, TJ Forrest, James McCann, Drew Smyly and Andy Wilkins.
As a team, Arkansas hit .351 with 15 home runs during the Fayetteville Regional. In the opener against Grambling, the Hogs tied an NCAA postseason record with nine home runs and Eibner became the ninth player in program history to tally three homers in one game.
As he has for a majority of the season, Zack Cox leads the team and the Southeastern Conference with his .427 batting average. With a double in the second inning of Monday’s game against Washington State, he tied Arkansas’ single-season record with his 97th hit; the mark was set by Matt Erickson during the 1996 season. Kuhn is second on the club at .348 and has a team-best 18 doubles and four triples. Eibner paces the Hogs’ power output with 21 home runs and 69 RBI, both career-high figures.
Mike Bolsinger will get the ball for Saturday’s start against Arizona State. The right-handed senior is 6-5 this season with a 4.77 ERA and 75 strikeouts. Smyly made two appearances during the Fayetteville Regional, earning a win against Washington State in the second game. In his first outing against the Cougars, he became the sixth Razorback pitcher to eclipse the 100-strikeout total. In 17 appearances this season, Smyly has 108 strikeouts, the seventh-highest total in program history.
Making his second start of the regional, Forrest improved to 8-0 with Monday’s 5.1-inning effort against Washington State. On the mound, Arkansas carries a 3.92 team ERA.
Arizona State (50-8) swept its way through the Tempe Regional which also featured San Diego, Hawaii and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Sun Devils secured their spot in the Super Regional with a victory over Hawaii in the regional title game. Arizona State has lost just three games at home this season (34-3) and carries an 8-2 record over its last 10 games.
The Sun Devils enter the weekend with a .341 team batting average. Infielder Riccio Torrez paces the club with his .404 batting average and team-high 88 hits, including 27 doubles. Kole Calhoun leads the team with 16 home runs while Zack McPhee has a team best 63 RBI. The ASU pitching staff features three pitchers with at least 10 wins-Seth Blair (12-0), Jake Borup (11-1) and Merrill Kelly (10-2). Jack Swagerty is tied for third in the nation with 14 saves. Arizona State carries a 3.10 team ERA.
In addition to the television and Internet coverage this weekend, fans can also tune in to their local affiliate on the Razorback Sports Network from ISP. Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer will have the call of the Super Regional action. For more information about the other seven Super Regional matchups, log on to NCAA.com.