Friday, March 23, 2007

SEC Showdown: Commies Travel to No. 9 Arkansas

After a brief hiatus to take a stab at bigger and brighter things, I’ve returned to provide you, the avid reader, with comprehensive coverage of Vandy Baseball. Sorry for delay. I hope that Bobby, Seamus, and Stanimal were able to provide you with enough details to keep you coming back for more baseball news. So, without anymore babbling about being gone, let’s get back to the diamond.
The Commies hit the road this weekend and head down to the land of Wal-Mart, bad roads, and ‘Slick Willy’, otherwise known as Arkansas, specifically the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs have compiled an overall 16-6 record and are 2-1 in the SEC after taking 2 of three from No. 23 UK this past weekend in Lexington. This match-up is this week’s premiere series.

The Hogs lead the all-time series 23-9 (ouch!) and they won the regular season series last year in Nashville 2-1. Arkansas is ranked No. 9 by Baseball America and, No. 10 by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA and No. 11 by Sports Weekly/ESPN.

A few players to watch on the Hogs squad at the plate are Ben Tschepikow, Logan Forsythe, and Casey Coon who are batting .353, .358, and .349 respectively. Tschepikow is second on the team in RBI (18), and tied for third on the team in hits (21). Forsythe leads the team in BA (.358) has three home runs second on the team in RBI (16). Coon ties the offense together. He leads the team in Abs (83), hits (29), doubles (9), home runs (5), RBI (36), and SLG% (.639).

The first pitching match up of the series will be Commie Ace David Price against Razorback Ace, Nick Schmidt. Schmidt is no joke. Both pitchers are 5-0 on the season and comparable numbers.

Price brings a 2.36 ERA in 45.2 innings, allowing 12 runs on 29 hits and striking out 71. He also allowed 9 BB and only one home run on the season. Opponents are hitting .187 against him. Schmidt touts a 1.47 ERA in 43 innings, allowing 7 runs on 22 hits, and striking out 40. His control is little more shaky then Price’s having given up 22 BB so far this season and similarly only one home run. Opponents are hitting a measly .157 against him.

The Commie offense has the potential to be an offensive juggernaut against anyone, any game, any inning. The Commies are led by sophomore pre-season All-American candidate, Pedro Alvarez. This kid is amazing. He leads the team in every offensive category (.380 BA, 100 AB, 32 runs scored, 38 hits, 11 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 77 Total Bases, .770 SLG%, and a .451 OB%) except BB, he’s second with 13. Did I mention he’s a sophomore?
The remaining Commie starters are no slouch either. Alex Feinberg is second on the team with a .359 BA, third in hits (28), and second in OB% (.425). Ryan Flaherty has the third highest average (.356), second in hits (38), second in RBI (20), second in doubles (8), and third in SLG% (.540). He’s tied with Dominic de la Osa in total bases with 47. de la Osa himself is second on the team in home runs (6), third in RBI (14), and second in SLG% (.650).

On the season, the Commies are hitting .333, scoring 183 runs off 272 hits. They have a .513 SLG % and .422 OB%. Arkansas isn’t that far behind, hitting .291 as a team, scoring 180 runs off 209 hits. They also have a .457 SLG% and .406 OB%. The Hogs strike out more then the Commies, 154 to 120 though each team has the same number of walks (109).

The first game will be pivotal in this series. If Schmidt comes out shaky, look for the Commie hitters to be patient and draw the walks to knock him out of the game early. Conversely, if Schmidt is on, it could be a long day for the Commies at the plate. If the Razorbacks swipe the first, they stand a great chance of winning the series and making a loud statement in the SEC baseball rankings. Personally, I like the dominance of the Commie pitching staff to pull this out. (Perhaps some of Bobby’s “Vandy Homer-ness” is rubbing off on me.) Look for David Price and company to rise to the challenge and send the Hogs back to the pig pen.

Duke Welker (4-0, 3.77 ERA), a Junior Right-hander, will get the start Saturday against either Nick Christiani (4-1, 3.18) or Brett Jacobson (4-0, 2.48). The Sunday starter is TBD from both teams. An interesting note about the Razorback ace, Nick Schmidt: he was a member of the US National Team over the summer coached by Commie Coach Tim Corbin. Hopefully he’ll be able to provide the boys with some insider info as to his stuff…

If you happen to be driving through the Fayetteville area this weekend, and have the time to take in a ball game, make sure you get their early. While Vandy has managed to provide a tailgating party and fireworks, the Hogs are providing Razorback coffee mugs to the first 1000 fans for Friday’s game, Razorback Sunglasses case for the first 1000 to Saturday’s game, and Razorback baseball license plates to the first 1000 for Sunday’s game. Not to mention, the first 3000 fans to Sunday’s game will also receive a hybrid battery charge pack. (no lie). Give some peanuts and cracker jacks.

1 comment:

Boyer in the District said...

Bad Roads...Wal Mart...Slick Willy? That sounds about right.