Heating Up To Pitching Records

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas has gotten plenty plump on strikeout king Nick Schmidt's K-rations over the past two-plus seasons.

And global warning had nothing to do with it. See, the 6-foot-5, 230 junior left-hander, said he can't stand pitching in cold weather even though he played his high school baseball near St. Louis.

As a point of interest, though, is this: He got his first strikeout and win on Feb. 12, 2005, in Arlington, Texas, against Dallas Baptist on a cold, drizzly day.

In that game, Schmidt threw 5 strong innings, allowed 3 hits, walked 2 and struck out 6 while throwing 73 pitches.

Oh, and he picked off a runner at first base for good measure. On the first pitch of his college career, Schmidt got Dallas Baptist third baseman Cody Montgomery, ironically a former Razorbacks player, to ground to third.

"Almost three years have gone by real fast," said Schmidt, an almost sure-fire first-round draft pick in June. "There's a lot of memories. I had butterflies going into that first start. I remember everything about it.

"The most memorable? Just throwing that first pitch for the Razorbacks."

Since then, he's tied for fourth on the list for all-time wins. He got his 25th career win and 302nd strikeout, then five more, on April 14, 2007, in Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, on a very cold and windy day as former strikeout king Matt Carnes watched in person.

For the record, Schmidt, again a preseason All-American, is 8-0 this season with a 2.22 earned run average, including a 4-0 record in the Southeastern Conference.

That factors well in Arkansas starting a three-game series against Georgia on the road, beginning at 5:37 p.m. today.

For The Record

Matt Carnes, too, was cold last weekend, but he didn't need to throw a heater to win another game.

He just waited and watched.

And he got an eye full as Nick Schmidt eliminated him from the record books in quick fashion.

"I found out this past week he was nearing the record," Carnes said. "I got a call at work. I knew it wouldn't take long to see. "I was just glad to be there to see it.

"He's a scout's dream, 6-5, 230 and a left-hander at that. He's got three pitches he can get over the plate. His future is in his hands. He's definitely got all the tools to make it to the major leagues.

"In college baseball, you get so many opportunities. You have to be consistent. You don't have time to waste.

Carnes, a loan office at the First National Bank in Miami, Okla., his high school alma mater, spent nine years in the minors and accepted the achievement with grace.

"If you're going to give a record up to a guy, it's good to give it up to a guy like Nick," he said. "You know, he's going to be pitching for a long time, barring no injuries. He's going to hav

e a heckuva career if he keeps doing what he's doing right now. "He doesn't have to do anything better than he's doing right now."

A Casual Thought

Nick Schmidt said he really didn't think about the strikeout record to a large measure because that wasn't the main subject of his season, which could be the best in his Razorbacks pitching history.

However ...

"You know, it (strikeout record) went through my mind a couple of times," Schmidt said. "But it really hasn't set in. I talked to Matt a little after the game and he said, 'Congratulations.' He was real a nice guy.

"It's a lot of hard work. Working hard every day of the week. It was a cold day and I didn't have a feel for the ball at all. You guys could see I didn't have my best stuff.

"The only thing that kept me in the game was my change-up."

Watching all this drama unfold last Saturday was former Razorbacks coach Norm De Briyn, who coached Carnes from 1995-1997.

Since then, he's seen Schmidt live-and-in person, with great magnitude of his masterpieces on the mound.

"They're similar in they're competitiveness," DeBriyn said. "Matt Carnes was a great competitor. When we opened Baum Stadium, it was a big deal. We were already in the middle of the season, we were playing Auburn. You know, you wanted to make sure the guy you ran out there was a good one.

"I told Carnes, 'I said, Hey, you're going to get the ball today, it's a big game.' At the end of that game, he said, 'Here's your ball.' We had a win.

"Matt had that kind of confidence. He was that kind of pitcher. He was dominating for us. Nick's that type. He's a great competitor. Not only does he have good stuff in velocity and everything else. His makeup is outstanding.

"That whole combination makes him what he is."

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