Dairy Queen Split

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Nick Schmidt was as dominant as ever on the pitching slab Sunday for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Thank goodness. If not for the Schmidt, Arkansas' three-game weekend at the Dairy Queen Classic could have been a total disaster.

While Schmidt pitched a brilliant nine innings to lead Arkansas to an easy 5-1 win in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader with host Minnesota, the Razorbacks' pitching and defense wrapped up the tournament in much different fashion.

Thanks to too many errors and not enough good pitches, No. 5 Arkansas once again left a weekend unsatisfied, dropping a 10-5 decision to the Gophers in the finale in front of a crowd of 2,291 in the Metrodome.

The Sunday split left Arkansas with a 1-2 mark in the Dairy Queen Classic — after a 5-4 loss against Ole Miss in Friday's tournament opener — and left coach Dave Van Horn doing anything but singing the praises of his once highly touted team.

"The second game was like a different baseball team," Van Horn said. "We know it's hard to beat a good ball team in their own ballpark twice in the same day. But we never gave ourselves a chance. You know, third base, a couple of errors there, we misjudged a ball in the outfield and a couple of more errors here and there just opened the floodgates.

"We took the lead 3-2 and it looked like we were going to get it rolling, but they come back and pitching the rest of the day was pretty spotty. You know, just pretty disappointing."

While the Razorbacks as a whole didn't meet their goals in Minneapolis, Schmidt was definitely the exception. After giving up a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, the tall and talented left-hander was right on the money by using a picture-perfect curveball to go along with an accurate fastball which left the Gophers guessing.

"I was kind of flipping (my curveball) in the first couple of innings, but then in around the sixth I got in a groove," Schmidt said. "I found it and I just kept it going."

Minnesota coach John Anderson believed Schmidt had it going so well, the performance was the best he had seen on the mound in years.

"We just got beat by a great pitcher that first game," Anderson said. "That guy is going to make a lot of money. "I wish I was his agent."

Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Schmidt was all used up by the time Game 2 started. Because in the finale, Arkansas went from looking like a Top 10 contender to a blunder-producing pretender, just like that.

"We gave away one (Friday) and then didn't play worth a darn in the last game (Sunday)," Van Horn said. "It's just inconsistency. We're still not getting a lot of production out of some guys, but we can maybe see that now some of them are coming on.

"I just wish we had a midweek game (this week). It's been a tough schedule early on and I found out a lot about a lot of people, so that's probably the main thing."

While Van Horn is wishing for a midweek game to work out the kinks, Arkansas will have to wait another week for that. Instead, the Diamond Hogs return to action Friday when they begin a three-game series with Kansas.

"We feel we're a lot better than this," junior Casey Coon said. "But we'll get better. Defense will get better, pitching will get better and hitting will get better.

"So we're looking forward to getting back in practice and getting after the little things."



UP NEXT...

Kansas at Arkansas

WHEN: Friday through Sunday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Kansas 9-5, Arkansas 10-5


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