Schmidt Finally Finds Range

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas starter Nick Schmidt struggled early with command, but still was effective for six innings during Friday's 7-4 win against Illinois-Chicago.



The hardest part for the true freshman to stomach was the Flames scored two runs off him on only one hit, a solo homer by Brayn Russo in the second inning.

"It's frustarting to give up two runs on only one hit," Schmidt said. "But when you're walking people, that's what happens."

Schmidt stuck out two, but walked three as he had trouble adjusting to home plate umpire Jeff Bowerman's strike zone.

"Schmidt, he threw some pitches that were very close on the outside corner that we weren't seeming to get," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We were taking pitches out there that they seemed to be getting for strikes, so we tried to throw out there.

"But we weren't getting them, so we started getting frustrated because we didn't know where to pitch."

Once Schmidt figured it out, he settled in and retired nine of the last 10 batters in order. His fastball and changeup were efficient, but he had trouble locating his breaking pitch.

"It really wasn't the strike zone, I was just struggling with my command," Schmidt said. "I'm really struggling with my curveball right now. My (front side) was just flying open and when you do that, there's no way you can throw an effective curveball."

Once he figures that out, Van Horn said he'll be fine.

"When he starts getting that curveball over, he's going to be a really good pitcher," Van Horn said. "We're trying to develop our starters right now to give us a chance to win and he gave us a chance to win."



Nice Grab

Arkansas football player Rick Culbert made a nice one-handed catch behind the Hogs' dugout on a foul ball hit by Brian Walker in the fourth inning. Culbert, a redshirt freshman from Vidor, Texas, played baseball in high school and said it just came natural to him.

"I didn't think it was coming my way at first," Culbert said. "Then, it drifted back and I saw that it was coming right for me so I just threw my hand up and caught it."

Culbert will work out at free safety when the Razorbacks begin spring practices March 28.



Streaking

Hogs senior center fielder Casey Rowlett wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 11 games when he lined a hanging curveball to left field for a first-inning single. He also led off the eighth with a single.

The rest of Rowlett's at-bats didn't go as well. He grounded into a double play to end the third inning with the bases loaded and he left two runners stranded when he grounded out to end fifth.



More On Walker

Walker, the Hogs catcher, threw out UIC's Larry Gempp attempting to steal second base for the final out of the first inning. But the Flames successfully executed a double steal in the third, making Walker 6 of 11 on throwing out would-be base stealers.



Timely Hit

UIC's Bryan Nolte picked a perfect time to snap out of a slump with a RBI single to center in the seventh inning to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

Nolte started all five games coming into Friday and was hitless in 14 at-bats this season.

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