Hogs Savor Sweet Taste Of Victory

FAYETTEVILLE -- Ahhh ... Victory.

It's something Arkansas hasn't tasted much lately in Southeastern Conference play, but it went down smooth during Friday's 4-1 win against No. 6 Florida.

"It tastes good," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn.

Most of the 6, 993 in attendance liked the sweet taste, too, as they left Baum Stadium grinning from ear to ear to make the atmosphere festive to say the least.

"This is awesome," said Hogs slugger Danny Hamblin as he panned around at the few thousand fans still celebrating in the stadium. "Especially against Florida, the team with the best record in the league. We practiced really hard this week and it paid off (Friday), but we've got to come out with the same intensity (when the Hogs play the Gators again today at 3:05 p.m.)."

Losing seven of their last eight SEC games has been tough to swallow for the Razorbacks (34-13, 10-12), who hadn't won a league game at home since a 3-0 victory against Vanderbilt on April 10.

"We practiced really well this week," Van Horn said. " I think they were probably waiting to see how we were going act Tuesday and we came out all gung ho and got after them. They didn't complain and hustled all week for us and we ended up playing pretty solid."

Freshman starter Nick Schmidt got rolling early and hit his stride late to pitch the Razorbacks' first complete game this season. The left-hander's performance helped save the bullpen for the final two games of the series against the Gators (31-14, 14-8).

It was the first complete game since Clint Brannon did it in an NCAA Regional win against LeMoyne on June 4.

"You could tell he wanted to finish the game," Van Horn said. "He was up to around 120 pitches in the eighth and we decided just to let him go."

And away he went, using a 94-mph fastball and a diving breaking ball to scatter seven hits and strike out seven while walking only one.

"You've got to get first-pitch strikes and that's what I did," said Schmidt, who threw 94 strikes in a career-high 138 pitches. "I don't think I've pitched as well here as I did on the road, so it felt really good."

Before taking the mound in the ninth, Schmidt received a pointed pep talk from catcher Brian Walker, who said he deserved the credit for Schmidt's remarkable 91-mph velocity in the final inning.

"He got mad at me," Walker said. "With Schmidt, I've got to yell and scream a little bit at him to get him going because he's such a nice kid. So before the ninth, I gave him a little butt chewing."

It clearly impressed Florida coach Pat McMahon, whose hitters were kept off balance during most at-bats.

"What an outstanding pitching performance," McMahon said. "He really located and really competed and he had his best stuff at the end of the game, if not better than throughout the ball game. He has got an outstanding future ahead of him."

The Razorbacks struck first after Craig Gentry led off the opening inning with a stand-up double. He later scored on an infield single by Danny Hamblin.

In the fourth, Arkansas scored twice with two outs to extend its lead to 3-0. Ben Tschepikow stroked an RBI double to deep right center field and Clint Arnold drove in the second run with a single.

"We've had a shortage of those (two-out hits) in conference play," Van Horn said. "I mean, two-out hits? ... We were beginning to think there was no such thing for us."

Florida finally got on the board in the fifth after consecutive singles by Brandon McArthur and Brian Jeroloman started the inning. Schmidt was able to limit the damage with a strikeout and ground out before Jeff Corsaletti's RBI single made it 3-1.

"Sometimes you've got to be a little lucky," Van Horn said. "They flew out to the wall (to end the inning) and the ball was hit good. He just pitched tremendous not to let that one inning bother him."

Arkansas pushed its final run across in the ninth courtesy of a squeeze bunt by pinch-hitter Stephen Robison that scored Scott Hode, who reached on leadoff single.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories