Former Razorbacks Players On Hand For Home Opener

FAYETTEVILLE -- Among the largest opening-day crowd in Baum Stadium (4,134) on Friday -- the previous record was 2,610 on Feb. 4, 2001, in a 25-6 win against Missouri Southern -- were former Razorbacks players Clint Brannon and Brady Toops.

Brannon, a left-handed pitcher who left school after his junior season, was drafted last summer by the Texas Rangers in the 34th round (1,011 pick overall).

Toops, a left-handed hitting catcher, was a 10th-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Brannon made his professional debut on July 2. He won his first professional game on Aug. 1 with Spokane, Wash., and eventually won the Northwest League earned run average title and set the Northwest League record for lowest ERA (0.59).

Baseball America put Brannon under its Best Pro Debut section. It also named Brannon as having the third best pro debut among college players and as being the No. 1 second-day pick in the draft.

"I just wanted to come out here and watch all my guys play," Brannon said. "I'm just relaxing until I report to spring training on (Wednesday). I was able to spend some time here.

"I'm excited for all the guys. It looks like it's going to be a pretty exciting season. Maybe they'll make it back to the College World Series again this year.

"I hope they do."

Toops said he was excited to be here for the home opener.

"It was nice to see a lot of the guys again," Toops said. "It's awesome to be back here again, especially for the home opener."

Arkansas debuts its new hot tub area, located down the third-base line just above the Arkansas bullpen, for the SEC series against Mississippi State on March 25.

It is a eight-person hot tub, catering to large groups.

"The area will probably hold close to 50 people," said Assistant Athletic Director For Marketing and Licensing Matt Shanklin. "It'll be available to groups, a minimum based on a group of 30. If you have more than 30, we'll charge you per head above that.

"It's $475 for a lower-level game up to $700 for a top-level game."

Razorbacks center fielder Casey Rowlett extended his team-high hitting streak to eight games Friday.

Rowlett kept the streak alive with an infield single in the third inning and added a base hit up the middle in the sixth. He finished by going 2-for-3 with 1 RBI.

Arkansas second baseman Scott Bridges injured his righthand in the seventh inning when he was hit by a pitch by Minnesota's Andy Peters to lead off the inning.

Bridges stayed in the game and scored a run. He finished by going 1-for-2 with 2 runs scored. He also had 2 stolen bases to give him 10 for the season.

"I hope he's not too bad," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "It hit him in the hand."

Bridges was taken to the hospital for X-Rays. Results showed his hand was not broken. His status is day-to-day and he could even be back on the field today.

Arkansas signee Kyle Hancock, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-handed pitcher from Rowlett, Texas, has been named a preseason second-team All-America by Baseball America.

In 15 appearances last year, Hancock was 9-3 with a 1.67 ERA. He struck out 124 and walked 18 while earning two saves.

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