Schmidt Settles In For Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE -- Anyone who was worrying about whether or not Nick Schmidt was himself after a few so-so outings on the pitching mound, a message was sent loud and clear Friday.

Relax.

Battling with control issues after walking four or more batters in two of his previous three starts this season, Arkansas' talented 6-foot-5 left-handed junior was back to his regular form in the No. 5 Razorbacks' series opener against Illinois State, leading the Diamond Hogs to a 12-1 win Friday.

At times, Schmidt had to overcome his teammates lack of support, as three errors through the first three innings put pressure on the preseason All-American early and often.

Like the veteran he now is, though, Schmidt handled everything in stride.

"That's a big momentum builder for a team when you struggle in the first couple of innings, but then you don't allow any runs," the Arkansas ace said. "The infield helped me out with a couple of double plays and that's a big feat for us when you're in a jam and you can get a double play ball and get out of the inning."

After booting the ball around three times through the first three innings, Schmidt's defense settled down. And so did Schmidt, surrendering just three singles in six shutout innings on the hill to improve his record to 2-0.

"From the third inning on, he looked like the Nick Schmidt we've come to know," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Letting it fly a little bit, the ball starting jumping out of his hand. The first couple of innings, he wasn't letting it go but I think he turned the corner a little bit. We all noticed that, everybody on the bench noticed it and he looked good.

"That ought to propel him into his next start (next weekend) at the Metrodome."

While Schmidt was back in the saddle, it took Arkansas' offense a few innings to get rolling before breaking the game open with a four-run fifth inning. The Razorbacks (8-2) would then add seven more runs over the next three innings to put away the Redbirds (1-3).

"Really the first two innings we looked like the Bad News Bears," Van Horn said. "And (Illinois State) was doing their thing, swinging the bats well, running the bases well and they were doing their thing.

"But what we said was they had a lot of runners of base and they still weren't scoring runs, and that was a credit to Nick. He didn't get his head down, didn't go kicking around the mound pointing fingers at anybody and we got through it."



TODAY'S TICKET

Illinois State at Arkansas

WHEN: 2:05 p.m., today

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Illinois State 1-3, 0-0; Arkansas 8-2, 0-0


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