Razorback Baseball Season Starts
2/17/2011 10:01 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After three weeks of preseason practice, the Arkansas Razorback baseball team opens the 2011 season this weekend as it hosts Delaware State. Game times are set for 3:05 p.m. on Friday and 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
All three games of the weekend series will be available online on ArkansasRazorbacks.com through RazorVision and on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Phil Elson will have the call on Friday and Saturday, while three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett (play-by-play) and former Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaffer (analyst) will be behind the mic on Sunday. Live stats and a live blog of the game will also be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Single-game tickets for all three games of this weekend’s series are still available. Tickets are $10 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. Season tickets are also available for the 33-game 2011 home schedule. Season tickets are $175 for adults and $125 for University of Arkansas staff, youth and senior citizens. Single-game or season tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647), by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com and on game day at Baum Stadium.
Along with several exciting in-game promotions, a couple of giveaways are planned for this weekend’s series. On Saturday, fans can pick up a copy of the 2011 baseball poster, while 2011 baseball magnet schedules will be given out on Sunday.
The Razorbacks, ranked 24th in a pair of preseason polls, finished the 2010 season with a 43-21 record and advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, marking the first back-to-back trips to the Super Regionals in program history. Arkansas, which was picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division, returns 13 letterwinners and four starters from last year’s squad.
Offensively, redshirt junior outfielder Collin Kuhn returns to lead the Razorbacks. Kuhn led Arkansas in doubles (18), triples (4), stolen bases (17) and at-bats (259) in 2010 and was second in batting average (.336), home runs (16), hits (87) and runs scored (66). Junior Bo Bigham also returns at second base for Arkansas. Bigham hit .316 with three homers and 30 RBI last year. Preseason All-American James McCann is back behind the plate. Considered one of the best defensive catchers in college baseball, McCann committed just three errors in 2010. At the plate, the junior catcher hit .286 with nine homers and 34 RBI.
On the mound, sophomore right-handed pitcher DJ Baxendale will get the call on opening day. Baxendale led the Razorbacks with 29 appearances in 2010, 26 of those coming in relief. He finished the year with a team-leading seven saves and a 0-2 record with a 3.58 ERA. On Saturday, junior lefty Geoffrey Davenport will toe the rubber. Davenport pitched in 26 games last year, including three starts, and had a 2-2 record with a 3.63 ERA. Freshman right-handed pitcher Brandon Moore is slated to start Sunday’s series finale. Moore, a native of Van Buren, Ark., earned all-state honors as a junior and was a two-time, all-conference selection.
The Arkansas bullpen this weekend will include just three returning pitchers from last season. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Randall Fant started 10 games last season and finished the year with a 3-2 record and a 4.37 ERA. Redshirt sophomore lefty Zack Hall pitched in two games last season and did not allow an earned run in 2.2 innings. After redshirting last year, redshirt sophomore Kendall Wehrle also returns in 2011. Wehrle made nine appearances in relief in 2009 and had a 0-0 record with a 4.70 ERA. Several newcomers will be looked to contribute out of the bullpen this weekend, including freshmen right handers Barrett Astin and Ryne Stanek. Astin was a four-year starter at Forrest City High School in Forrest City, Ark., and earned all-conference honors following his sophomore and junior seasons. A third-round draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, Stanek was named Kansas City Star Player of the Year, All-Metro Player of the Year and Proline Pitcher of the Year following his senior season at Blue Valley High School in Overland Park, Kan.
A member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Delaware State finished the 2010 season with a 13-36 record. The Hornets lost just four letterwinners from last year’s team and return 15 letterwinners, including six position starters and nine pitchers. As a team, Delaware State hit .284 in 2010, while the pitching staff posted an 8.78 earned run average.
At the plate, the Hornets look to a pair of juniors to lead the way. Scott Davis started 43 games for Delaware State in 2010 and led the team with a .353 batting average to go along with three homers and 23 RBI. Brandon Crist played in 46 games, including 32 starts, last season. Crist hit .327 with a homer and 13 RBI last year.
Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Jordan Elliott will start the series opener for the Hornets. Elliott started all three games he pitched in last season and recorded a 1-2 record with a 10.57 ERA. In the middle game of the series, Delaware State will turn to sophomore righty Elliott Gardner, who pitched in 15 games, including 11 starts last season, and had a 4-5 record with a 6.88 ERA. Freshman right-handed pitcher Matt McClain will start the series finale for DSU.
Out of the bullpen, senior righty Jose Portela made a team-leading 25 appearances for the Hornets in 2010. Portela compiled a 1-3 record with a 6.04 ERA. Sophomore southpaw Ryan Haas also brings experience out of the Hornet bullpen after appearing in 16 games as a freshman and posting a 0-8 record with an 8.21 ERA.
This weekend’s series marks the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and Delaware State and the first games that Arkansas has played against a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foe.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
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