Ready For A Showdown

FAYETTEVILLE -- As far as a pitchers duel goes, this is one of those dream matchups.

In one corner, you've got Vanderbilt junior left-hander David Price. In the other, Arkansas' super southpaw, Nick Schmidt.

For two and a half seasons, Price and Schmidt have dominated the Southeastern Conference while earning accolade after accolade. But something has been missing all the while the two have been strutting their stuff on the mound.

Even though they're both considered the ace's of their respective teams -- and have been for the past few seasons -- Price and Schmidt have never squared off against one another.

Never, that is, until now.

Friday, when No. 1 Vanderbilt (22-1, 2-1 in the SEC) visits Baum Stadium to face No. 9 Arkansas (16-7, 2-1), all eyes will be on these two great arms. Because come Friday, the showdown is on.

"I think there's just a lot of hype," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Those guys played on Team USA together and Price is the one that everybody wants to see. He's got that big arm, has had a lot of success and he was Team USA's number one pitcher. He's a preseason All-American, a Player of the Year possibility and he's dominated so far this year. So our fans are going to want to see him and hopefully see us beat him.

"It's going to be a fun atmosphere, almost like an event."

While Price and Schmidt are two of the best -- if not the two best -- left-handed pitchers in college baseball, they're also more than that.

These two hard-nosed competitors are also close friends.

As teammates on the Team USA summer squad in 2006, Price and Schmidt formed a bond which still runs thick today. Despite being miles apart and once again foes in the SEC, the two pitchers still stay in close contact, text-messaging or calling one another after games just to check up.

"Nick was definitely someone I look to when we're talking baseball and pitching," Price said. "We became friends pitching together for Team USA and we grew close playing for that team."

This weekend, though, the friendship takes a back seat to some good old competition. Because while the two enjoy seeing the other succeed, Friday will be the first chance to see how Price and Schmidt can handle a head-to-head matchup between two friends.

"That's going to be a lot of fun," Schmidt said. "We've talked about it for the last couple of weeks, checking up on each other to see how the other one is doing.

"That's just going to be a real good matchup."

A matchup everyone -- from the fans, to coaches, to teammates -- seems pumped up for.

"We're going to get Schmidt's best and it's going to be exciting," Arkansas catcher Brian Walker said. "It's going to be two guys throwing on a high level and it's going to be a war.

"This is probably going to be one of the best games I've ever played in, and it's going to be exciting."

Price or Schmidt?

Vanderbilt junior pitcher David Price is considered a leading candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the June Major League Baseball amateur draft. But when taking a closer look at the numbers, it's Arkansas' Nick Schmidt who appears to come out on top.

David Price, 6-5, 215, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

2005 -- 2-4, 2.86 ERA (Freshman all-American)

2006 -- 9-5, 4.16 ERA (Third-team all-American)

Team USA (Summer, 2006) -- 5-1, 0.20 ERA

2007 -- 5-0, 2.36 ERA

Nick Schmidt, 6-5, 230, St. Louis, Mo.

2005 -- 8-2, 2.80 ERA (SEC Newcomer of the Year, Freshman all-American)

2006 -- 9-3, 3.01 ERA (SEC Pitcher of the Year, Second-team all-American)

Team USA (Summer, 2006) -- 2-1, 1.53 ERA

2007 -- 5-0, 1.47 ERA


No. 1 Vanderbilt at No. 9 Arkansas

WHEN: Friday through Sunday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Vanderbilt 22-1, 2-1; Arkansas 16-7, 2-1

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