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This Week In Razorback Baseball

BY ANDRES FOCIL
This Week In Razorback Baseball

This Week
The Razorbacks host McNeese State in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Arkansas enters the series having won three straight, while McNeese State has won two straight including five of its last seven games. Game time is 1 p.m. for all three weekend games.

Razorbacks In The SEC
Entering the weekend, Arkansas pitching leads the SEC in ERA with a 1.62 mark. The Razorbacks are one of two teams with a staff ERA under 2.00, with Alabama holding a 1.93 average. The Hogs’ staff has surrendered the third fewest hits in the league (67) and the fewest walks (18). Individually, Jarrett Gardner is tied for second in the conference with two saves.

Back-To-Back, Part III
The Razorbacks recorded their third back-to-back home run performance of the season when Ryan Fox and Michael Conner went yard against Southwest Missouri. Cliff Crouse and Andrew Wishy were the first to go back-to-back this season as each homered against Oklahoma City. Crouse and Conner hit consecutive bombs against Air Force for the second back-to-back outing. The Razorbacks recorded only one back-to-back home run performance last season as Scott Crossett and Brian Kirby belted shots against Kentucky on April 28.

Long Ball Equals Wins
With two home runs against Missouri State on Tuesday the Razorbacks improved their record to 6-1 when hitting the long ball. The Hogs have gone yard in all but one of their seven wins this season and in seven of 10 games overall. The only win the Razorbacks have not recorded a home run was a 5-3 victory over Long Beach State in game three of the series. The Razorbacks failed to hit a home run in the first game against SMS and in the last two games against Long Beach State.

Woods Earns “W”
Senior relief pitcher Scott Woods picked up his second win of the season after throwing two innings of hitless ball against SMS on Tuesday. Woods has made four appearances this season, going eight and two-thirds innings allowing three hits, no runs, one walk and eight strikeouts. The Rogers, Ark., native, earned his first victory of the year against Texas-Arlington after pitching four innings of one-hit ball.

Conner Paces Hogs
Since making his first appearance of the season against Air Force, OF Michael Conner has led the way for the Razorbacks at the plate. Conner leads the team with a .407 batting average and is tied for the team lead in home runs with three. In his last three games, Conner has gone 7-for-12 at the plate for a . 583 average with three runs batted in, two doubles, three runs scored and one home run.

Schedule Changes
Arkansas has scheduled two additional games against Southwest Missouri to make up for the weekend cancellation against Ball State. The Hogs and Bears will play Wednesday, April 3, at 5 p.m. in Springfield. Arkansas and SMS will then play at Fayetteville on Wednesday, May 1, at 5 p.m. The Razorbacks regularly scheduled game against NE Oklahoma State on May 1 has been scrubbed.

More Schedule Changes
The Razorbacks’ April 16 game at Oral Roberts has been moved from a 6:30 p.m. start to a 7 p.m. start time.

Last Time Out
Arkansas notched its third straight win with a 10-1 victory over Southwest Missouri on Tuesday. The win snapped a two game skid against the Bears and marked the first victory over SMS since a 7-2 win in 2000. Ryan Fox helped lead the way with a grand slam in the sixth inning. Michael Conner followed with a solo homer as part of his three-hit performance. Cody Clark picked up his first dinger of the season in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1.

Relievers Strong
The Arkansas bullpen has been stellar through 10 games this season. The Razorback staff has allowed just six earned runs in 40.1 innings of work. In addition, the Hogs pen has recorded 34 strikeouts and given up just 31 hits. The staff has recorded two saves (Gardner) and two wins (Woods) and has a 1.33 earned run average.

Goodwin Consistent at the Plate
Redshirt freshman Clay Goodwin has been a steady force at the plate for the Razorbacks this season. The Benton, Ark., native is second on the squad with a .389 batting average and is second with 19 total bases. Goodwin also leads the Razorbacks with three three-hit games and is tied for the team lead with four multiple-hit games along with Michael Conner.

Road Test
The Razorbacks completed their first stint away from Baum Stadium with a .500 record after splitting six games the last two weeks. Arkansas began on the road at the UTA Invitational and came away with a 2-1 mark before losing two of three to No. 21 Long Beach State. Last season, the Razorbacks had a 2-4 record in their first six outings away from home, losing two of three at Texas-San Antonio and two of three at the Hormel Foods Baseball Classic in Minneapolis.

Hogs Shutout
The Razorbacks suffered their first shutout in 45 games on Saturday when Long Beach State blanked the Hogs 4-0. The last time the Razorbacks were held scoreless was on March 13 against Wichita State when the Shockers came away with a 5-0 victory.

Razorbacks Give Up Long Ball
Charlie Isaacson surrendered the first Razorback home run of the 2002 season in the first inning against Long Beach State on Saturday. The Razorbacks had gone 54 innings this season without allowing the long ball. Long Beach State wasted little time in connecting on their second dinger against the Hogs as Nick Orlandos went yard in the eighth off of reliever Scott Roehl.

Looking for Support
Senior RHP Charlie Isaacson has been near flawless in his first two starts of the season. Isaacson has allowed just three earned runs in 15 innings of work for a 1.80 ERA, but has yet to earn a win. The Razorbacks have only scored two runs in support of Isaacson and have committed two errors in those games allowing two unearned runs. The Hogs are hitting a mere .203 (13-for-64) in Isaacson’s two starts with only two extra base hits.

Don’t Blink
Keep your eyes on the trio of Razorback outfielders Cliff Crouse, Michael Conner and Kirk McConnell or you’re likely to miss them. Each has been timed with a 3.8 second or better time to first base (90 feet/30 yards) with Crouse boasting a 3.6 second mark down the line. Conner and McConnell each carry 3.8 times to first. Through  eight games this season, the trio has combined to steal four bases in six attempts with Crouse holding a perfect 3-for-3 mark. Conner was gunned down in his only attempt this season snapping a string of 13 consecutive successful steals. The Razorbacks as a team have only swiped eight bases in 11 attempts this season.

Stranded
The Razorbacks stranded 19 runners on base in three games against Long Beach State last weekend, including eight in a 4-0 loss on Saturday. Arkansas left 34 runners on base through five games before the Long Beach State series and has stranded 53 for the year. Arkansas’ game high for stranded runners is 10 against Missouri Southern in the first game of the season.

Ranked Foes
Seven of the Razorbacks’ 2002 opponents are ranked this week in the national polls. South Carolina heads the list coming in at No. 4 in three of the four major polls (Collegiate Baseball, Baseball Weekly/ESPN and NCBWA). The Gamecocks are ranked fifth in Baseball America. LSU and Ole Miss round out the Hogs’ top 10 ranked opponents. Alabama, Long Beach State, Georgia and Auburn each find themselves ranked two weeks into the season.

Experience on the Mound
With eight pitchers returning from a year ago, the Razorbacks look to have plenty of experienced hurlers in 2002. Scott Woods, Jonathan Richmond, Scott Roehl, Justin Leraris, Josh Merryman, Layne Berry, Charlie Isaacson and Gary Hogan, Jr. each return to the Razorback rotation this season. Last year, the group accounted for 70 percent of the team’s wins (19 of 27), 71 percent of team’s starts (40 of 56), 74 percent of the total innings pitched (361.2 of 490.2) and combined for a 4.67 earned run average. The group also recorded 274 of the Hogs’ 403 strikeouts last season.

Hogs Picked Last by SEC Coaches
The 2002 Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Poll has the Razorbacks picked to finish last in the conference. LSU was tabbed as the preseason favorite to claim the overall SEC championship as well as the SEC Western Division title. LSU received nine out of 12 first-place votes with Ole Miss receiving two and Alabama one. Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division with each coach also picking an overall champion.

Tough Foes
Ten of the Razorbacks’ 18 opponents this season were NCAA participants a year ago. Arkansas faces a pair of NCAA teams during the first month of the season. The Razorbacks will play Texas-Arlington, which made the NCAA post-season in 2001, in the third game of the UTA Tournament Feb. 17, in Arlington. The Hogs will then travel to California for a three-game series against Long Beach State which also advanced to the NCAA post-season a year ago. Other NCAA teams on the 2002 schedule include Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Tennessee, LSU, Oral Roberts, Ole Miss and Auburn.
 

Arkansas Probable Starters:

Friday – No. 45 Charlie Isaacson
Saturday – No. 7 Scott Roehl
Sunday – No. 15 Gary Hogan, Jr.

TV: None
Radio: ARSN goes on the air at 12:40 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Play-by-Play: Chuck Barrett
Color: Rick Schaeffer
ARSN via the Internet: www.sports.yahoo.com/m/ncaabb
 



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