Arkansas begins a six game road trip in Norman, Okla., with a 6:35 p.m. game against the Sooners. The Razorbacks then begin SEC play against the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend in Athens. Arkansas will travel directly to Missouri following the Sunday game in Athens, to take on Missouri on Tuesday and Saint Louis on Wednesday.
Last Time Out
Arkansas was held to just five hits and committed four errors in a 7-1 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Tuesday night in Norman. Oklahoma scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning and forced the Razorbacks to strand five runners on base in the first two innings. The Oklahoma bullpen was stellar as it held the Razorbacks to one hit past the fourth inning and retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Razorbacks have lost a season-high three straight games.
Arkansas vs. Georgia
The Razorbacks hold a 12-6 series edge over the Bulldogs. Arkansas recorded a 5-4 win over the ‘Dawgs in the first meeting at the 1987 NCAA College World Series. In 1992, Georgia was the first conference opponent for the Razorbacks. Arkansas swept both games in the abbreviated series in Athens. The Hogs are 3-5 all-time against the Bulldogs in Athens with their last win coming in 1996 by a 4-3 margin.
Razorbacks in SEC Openers
Since joining the conference in 1992, Arkansas holds a 4-6 record in SEC openers, including a 2-3 mark in conference openers on the road. The Razorbacks won their first SEC game, a 1-0 victory over Georgia in Athens, but have lost three of their last five conference openers. Arkansas last began conference play with a victory in 2000 with a 10-5 win over Tennessee in Knoxville.
Looking for “O”
After two five-hit performances in their last two games, the Razorbacks head to Georgia looking to find some offense. The Razorbacks have scored just two runs in those games and have stranded 17 runners on base. Against Oklahoma, the Razorbacks were held to one hit after the fourth inning and were set down in order from the sixth inning on. Arkansas is hitting .161 in the last two games.
Three Dot Notes……
The Razorbacks have given up 13 doubles, five home runs and one triple in the last four games. . .Arkansas has committed eight errors in the last four games. . .Arkansas has struck out 42 times in the last four games (10.5 per game avg.). . .Arkansas has eight single-digit hit totals in 14 games. . .Scott Bridges has hit safely in six straight games. . .The Razorbacks have scored 19 runs in the sixth inning this season, more than any inning thus far. . .Arkansas’ .571 winning percentage is the worst entering SEC play since joining the conference in 1992. . .The Razorbacks have trailed in 19 consecutive innings.
Once was just not enough for Ryan Fox and Michael Conner. In consecutive games the duo belted back-to-back home runs. Fox led off the third inning by taking a 3-2 pitch over the left field wall, Conner then followed with a solo shot to left. It marked the fourth time this season the Razorbacks have logged back-to-back home runs.
Senior RHP Charlie Isaacson earned his first victory of the season with a 5-2 win against McNeese State on Friday. Isaacson pitched seven innings allowing just one run on three hits while striking out four. The Overland Park, Kan., native also “hit” on 21 of 24 sliders in the game. After allowing a hit in each of the first two innings, Isaacson retired 12 straight batters before allowing a base runner in the sixth on a HBP. After the second inning Isaacson did not allow a hit until a double in seventh inning.
Gardner on Target
Junior college transfer Jarrett Gardner notched his third save of the season against McNeese State on Friday. Gardner, who transferred from Rose State College in Oklahoma, is a perfect 3-for-3 in save opportunities this year. Gardner has pitched five and one-third innings in six relief appearances this season without allowing a run. Gardner has struck out four batters while allowing six hits and one walk. Gardner also earned saves against Oklahoma City and Long Beach State.
Junior OF/DH Ryan Fox has 11 hits this season with four home runs. Fox only hit five home runs last season with the first coming in the 34th game of the year. Nine of Fox’s 25 career hits have been home runs.
Long Ball Equals Wins
The Razorbacks have amassed a 7-2 mark this season in games they have hit a home run. Arkansas went yard in the first three games of the season and had a perfect 3-0 mark in those games. Arkansas made it 4-0 with home run against UTA before suffering its first loss with a long ball in game one of the Long Beach State series. Arkansas then homered in four consecutive games, going 3-1 in those contests. The only loss in that string was a 14-9 decision in game two to McNeese 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 five appearances this season, going eight and two-thirds innings allowing six hits, one run, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Seven of the Razorbacks’ 2002 opponents are ranked this week in the national polls. South Carolina heads the list coming in at No. 4 Collegiate Baseball, with LSU coming in eighth. Ole Miss (12th), Alabama (17th), Mississippi State (23rd) and Auburn (28th) round out the SEC opponents, with Long Beach State (29th) coming in as the only ranked non-conference opponent.
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.
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.