Making A Statement

HOOVER, Ala. -- He's baaaaack. After a recent string of below average outings -- at least by his standards -- Nick Schmidt returned to his dominating ways at just the right time.

Despite fighting off a bout of the stomach bug, Schmidt was simply brilliant Wednesday, throwing his first career shutout while giving up just two hits in a 6-0 Razorbacks win against Alabama in front of a crowd of 5,746 at Regions Park.
"I felt good in the bullpen and I just carried it out to the mound," said Schmidt, who no-hit the Crimson Tide through the first seven innings. "Usually it doesn't work that you have a good bullpen (session) and a terrible outing. So I just stuck with what I got. I didn't feel good at all today, my stomach was hurting but I just tried to stay within myself." For Schmidt and the No. 10 Razorbacks -- who are playing as the No. 2 seed -- the effort was just what the doctor ordered. After going 1-3 over his past five starts and being winless in his past three outings, Schmidt (10-3) was at his best against the Crimson Tide. "Give those guys credit," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "Sometimes when you lose it isn't because you didn't do anything. I mean their pitcher was outstanding, their hitters were patient and they hit breaking balls. They had a good plan of attack and when you've got a guy on the mound like that, it's hard. "That's why they're a very good team and we saw that today." With Schmidt throwing his best game in nearly a month -- recording his eighth career complete game -- Arkansas (39-18) needed just one big inning at the plate to roll past Alabama (31-25). That came in the bottom of the third inning. After the Diamond Hogs took a 1-0 lead in the second thanks to an RBI single by Wayne Hrozek, the floodgates opened the next inning when Brian Walker contributed an RBI single followed by a three-run Danny Hamblin home run. "That was one of the better games we've played this year and it all started with pitching," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Outstanding pitching by Nick, probably his best game of the year. He's thrown the ball pretty well and been on for the last few weeks, we just haven't supported him well. Today, we did a good job offensively of creating some things and getting some big two-out hits to create some runs. "The defense was solid and it was just a good overall game for our team." After getting the help he needed from his offense, Schmidt continued his gem and even had thoughts of a no-hitter. But after keeping the Crimson Tide hitless through seven, Alabama's Brandon May led off the eighth with a sharp single just past the outreached glove of Tim Smalling at shortstop. "I was thinking about (the no-hitter) every inning and the fans were letting me know about it, too," Schmidt said. "I kept hearing it from their fans, but the guy got a pretty good piece on the ball (to break up the no-hitter) and that's how it goes." Even though the no-hit bid failed, nothing else seemed to go wrong for the Razorbacks' overpowering junior lefthander. "Usually (Nick) struggles early and then gets hot late," Arkansas catcher Brian Walker said. "So once he got through the first I was pretty excited because usually he sets the tempo early of how it's going to go. "So I was excited from the first inning on. The bullpen (session) was pretty good (before the game) with the curveball. He was throwing it for strikes and he was dominating with a fastball to both sides of the plate. So I knew early on he was going to be pretty good. I just didn't know he was going to be that good." Arkansas now faces third-seeded South Carolina (41-16) at 5 p.m. today. The Gamecocks defeated Florida, 4-3, in 12 innings on Wednesday. TODAY'S TICKET No. 15 Arkansas vs. No. 9 South Carolina WHEN: 5 p.m., today WHERE: Regions Park, Hoover, Ala. RECORDS: South Carolina 41-16, 17-13; Arkansas 39-18, 18-12

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