Star Pitchers Start Sluggish, Finish Strong

FAYETTEVILLE -- About 70 to 80 professional baseball scouts showed up Friday night in Baum Stadium. They toted around bulky briefcases filled with radar guns and jostled for the precious few spots behind home plate.

They all wanted to have an answer ready for the inevitable question their bosses would ask them: Who is the best 6-foot-5 left-hander in the Southeastern Conference?

Well, they had to wait a while to get a proper gauge on the talents of Arkansas junior Nick Schmidt and Vanderbilt junior David Price.

"I guess because of all of the hype and all of that, I guess it was a little nerve-racking," Schmidt said of each pitcher's sluggish start. "I just didn't have my best stuff, and neither did David."

But after two-and-a-half subpar innings, the pitchers' worst stints of the season, the duo put on quite a pitching exhibition.

Quite simply, each pitcher dominated after allowing five runs each in the early stages of Arkansas' 8-7 10-inning victory.

Price, regarded as possibly the No. 1 pick of this summer's Major League Baseball Draft, started the slowest.

He gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning on Logan Forsythe's RBI single and Jeff Nutt's RBI double. Both hits came with two outs. Price then allowed three Arkansas runs in the second. A throwing error by Commodores catcher Shea Robin resulted in two of the runs, but Price had set up the Razorbacks by loading the bases.

In those two innings, Price threw 71 pitches. From there, though, Price cruised. He relinquished just two more hits in his final four innings. His high-90s fastball and knee-buckling curveball kept Arkansas off-balance.

Price finished with eight strikeouts, as did Schmidt.

The St. Louis native also experienced a rough start. Robin's two-run, two-out single put Vanderbilt up 2-0 in the top of the first. Then, the Commodores got three more runs off Schmidt in the third.

Dominic de la Osa chopped a single over the head of Arkansas third baseman Casey Coon to start the inning. Schmidt followed with a throwing error on a bunt attempt. Vanderbilt then tallied its runs on a Matt Meingasher RBI single, a passed ball and an Andrew Giobbi sacrifice fly.

But Schmidt quickly recovered just like his counterpart.

Vanderbilt managed just one hit in Schmidt's last four innings. In those innings, Schmidt threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 15 batters he faced. He even struck out four consecutive hitters at one point.

For all of the scouts, it had to have been worth the wait.

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