Baseball to Play Home-and-Home Midweek Series with No. 13 Arkansas
March 21, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis (11-6) baseball squad meets the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (15-4) for a two-game midweek home-and-home series. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. each night with Tuesday’s game being played at Dickey Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Ark. Wednesday’s tilt will be played at AutoZone Park in Memphis, Tenn.
Both games can be heard on WUMR 91.7 FM in Memphis. Tuesday’s game will be aired on Cox Sports TV, but that broadcast is not available in the Memphis area. Both games will have the audio of Jeff Brightwell available on Memphis Tiger Vision. Each game will also have live stats and live chat available on www.GoTigersGo.com.
The Tigers open Conference USA play at East Carolina on Friday. The three-game series begins with 5 p.m. first pitch on Friday and concludes on Sunday with an 11 a.m. contest.
The Series With Arkansas
Memphis meets Arkansas for the 27th time in program history on Tuesday. Arkansas holds a 15-10-1 series lead with the last meeting being played in the 2003 season. Prior to the 2003 contest, the two squads hadn’t met since the 1994 season. Memphis is 2-6 in the series against Arkansas in games played in the Natural State, and the Razorbacks hold a 9-8-1 series lead in games played in the Bluff City. Arkansas has won six of the last nine meetings, with one game being a tie (1987).
The Last Meeting Vs. Arkansas
The Tigers (1-1) battled back-and-forth with the Razorbacks before eventually falling 10-9. Junior college transfer Kevin House put Memphis ahead 9-7 with a grand slam in a six-run sixth inning, but that would be all the Tigers would score as Arkansas plated the final three runs of the game to improve to 5-0 on the season. House combined for seven RBI in the two games and went 4-for-9 at the plate with two doubles and his first two Division I home runs.
Arkansas jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind a two-run double by Andrew Wishy and a two-run homer by Ryan Fox. Memphis got a run back in the second after Kyle Scott doubled and scored on an error by Fox who dropped a fly ball hit by Kurt Welch to centerfield.
Arkansas built its lead back to four with a single run in the fourth, but Memphis answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Those two runs were provided by Josh Payne who belted a home run over the leftfield wall scoring Kevin House from third.
Memphis scored six runs in the sixth to take their first lead of the game. Scott doubled to lead off the inning and scored when Chad House was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Moss was the third straight batter to be hit by a pitch scoring Welch to cut the lead to 7-5. Kevin House then cleared the bases when he sent a grand slam over the leftfield wall to give Memphis a 9-7 lead.
Brandon Rowan gave up a bloop single to Wishy that scored Bridges from second to cut the Memphis lead to one at 9-8. Pitts hit a line drive in the right-center field gap that scored a pair of runs to give Arkansas a 10-9 lead. Payne walked the next batter and was relieved by junior Zach Cook who struckout the next two batters to stop the Razorback rally.
On The Clock
With the new bats this year in college baseball, one trend to follow this season is length of game. Memphis averages a game duration of 2:44 this season. Game times averaged 3:11 at this point last season. Memphis has played four games lasting over three hours and the shortest game has been played in 2:08 against Southern Illinois on March 6. Memphis is 1-5 in games that last under 2:35 this season with the lone victory coming on March 12 in game two of the doubleheader against Saint Peter’s.
When looking closer at the time of games, Memphis has needed some timely hitting. The Tigers have come through this season with two outs as the offense has produced 53, two-out RBI this season. The U of M had 32, two-out RBI at this point last season and was batting .270 (48-178) with two outs. The Tigers have a .350 (69-197) average with two outs this year. Memphis has 10 home runs this season and five have come with two outs in an inning. Jacob Wilson and T.J. Rich lead the Tigers with nine, two-out RBI each and Chad Zurcher has eight RBI with two outs this season.
A Closer Look At Arkansas
The Razorbacks, like the U of M, has dropped two of its last three games. Arkansas lost two of three at Auburn over the weekend in the SEC Opener for each team. In the series finale, Auburn rallied from a four-run deficit to win 8-7. Arkansas started the season on a six-game winning streak before losing 8-6 to McNeese State. Following that loss, the Razorbacks went on another six-game win streak. Since that streak ended, Arkansas is 3-3. Arkansas averages 7.53 runs per game and sports a 3.80 ERA on the mound.
Getting In The Zone At AutoZone Park
In the first of three marquee matchups at AutoZone Park this season, Memphis will play its 40th game at AutoZone Park on Wednesday night. The U of M has struggled at “The Zone” since its first game in 2001, carrying a 14-25 record into the park on Wednesday. The Tigers went 1-0 at AutoZone Park last season with a thrilling 6-5 victory over 15th-ranked Ole Miss. Memphis is 1-2 on March 23 at AutoZone Park. The lone win came in the 2004 season against Austin Peay as the Tigers hit for the cycle in the four-run third inning that gave Memphis a 5-2 victory. In the only other meetings at AutoZone Park on March 23rd, the U of M dropped a doubleheader to former C-USA rival South Florida.
Tigers Capture Program Victory No. 1600
With the recent research gathered by Memphis stat historian John Guniozzo, the Tiger baseball program claimed win No. 1600 all-time on March 12 in game two of the doubleheader against Saint Peter’s. After fielding a team for the first time in 1913, Memphis has a record of 1603-1205-16 all-time.
Memphis Out To Hot Start At The Dish
Although college baseball switched to the new BBCOR bats, the Memphis offense has not shown any signs of adjusting to the new bats. Memphis has 15 more hits than it did after 17 games last season. The Tigers are also plus four with 10 home runs in the first 17 games. Memphis has posted the most dominant stat with a plus 21 differential in runs scored with 121 in 17 games. At this point last season, Memphis had plated 100 runs. The Tigers have scored double-digit runs in eight out of 17 games and pounded out double-digit hits in 11 of the 17 games. The Tigers approach at the plate has paid big dividends as well with the Tigers having a plus 15 margin with 78 walks this year compared to 63 after 17 games last year. Memphis has struck out less with 87 strikeouts this season compared to 115 a year ago.
“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”
As the B.J. Thomas lyric goes, rain drops keep falling on Tiger Baseball. Memphis has already had two rain outs this season. The rain out with Oral Roberts on March 4 will be made up as Arkansas-Pine Bluff will visit FedExPark for a 6:30 p.m. game on May 10. The rained out game with Auburn on March 9 will not be made up, but head coach Daron Schoenrock added a game with Mississippi Valley State on March 30th to make up the rain out. Memphis will now play a doubleheader with MVSU.
Senior southpaw Ryan Holland leads Conference USA with six pick-offs this season. Holland has picked off two base runners in two of his four outings (Kennesaw State and Saint Peter’s) and added another against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois. As a pitching staff, Memphis leads C-USA with 11 pick offs.
Chase Chad Zurcher moved into the top-10 in program history over the weekend as he climbed to ninth all-time with 190 career hits. Drew Martinez, Adam McClain, Jacob Wilson and Chad Zurcher are quickly approaching top-10 marks as well. With 184 career hits, Martinez needs just four base hits to crack the program’s top 10.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Comparing stats from this season to last shows some sharp differences between the 2010 squad and the 2011 club for the U of M. Most notably, the Tigers were 6-11 through the first 17 games a year ago and Memphis is 11-6 this season. At this point last year, the Tigers were batting .292 compared to .336 this season. On the mound, Memphis has nearly a run better ERA (4.14) compared to this time last year (5.02). Although the Tigers had six errors this past weekend, the 2011 squad has fared much better on the diamond. With 13 errors this season, the 2011 club betters last year’s squad who had 30 errors at this point last year. With the difference in errors comes the stark contrast in the amount of unearned runs opponents have scored. Last season, opponents had scored 30 unearned runs and this season opponents have just four unearned runs, three of which came in the two losses against Eastern Illinois
Get The Lead-Off Man On Base
Numbers support the notion that getting a leadoff batter on base increases the likelihood of scoring runs in an inning. That has certainly been the case for the Tigers in 2011. Memphis has put its leadoff batter on base 52 percent (61-118) of the time and when the leadoff man reaches base, Memphis has scored 31 runs. Tiger leadoff man Drew Martinez has reached base in 15 of his 33 (.455) plate appearances as a leadoff hitter. Adam McClain is hitting .727 (8-11) when leading off and Chad Zurcher sports a 10-for-14 (.714) mark as a lead-off man.
“Let’s Get Some Runs”
As the former Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray would say during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field, the Tigers needed to get some runs. After scoring four runs in a 22-inning stretch from March 6-12, Memphis got third base coach Jerry Zulli busy waving in runners to score. The U of M plated 23 runs in the weekend series against Saint Peter’s after being shut out by Southern Illinois and scoring twice at No. 23 Auburn. The Tigers hit another rut in the three-game series against Eastern Illinois, scoring four runs in 18 innings before taking game three 11-7. Memphis is 11-0 when scoring four or more runs.
Walking In Memphis
Memphis has taken 71 walks this season and took the free base 31 times in the seven games. Jacob Wilson tied a single-game record with four walks against Saint Peter’s on March 13. Rick Russell leads the team with 11 walks and T.J. Rich and Jacob Wilson are second on the club with 10 walks.
Get A Lead After The Sixth
This season, Memphis is a perfect 11-0 when leading after the sixth inning. The U of M has scored 100 of their 121 runs (82 percent) in the first six innings this year. When the game is tied or Memphis trails after six innings, the Tigers are 0-6.
Now in his seventh year at the helm of the Memphis baseball program, head coach Daron Schoenrock claimed his milestone 150th win as the Tigers’ skipper on Feb. 20th against Evansville. Schoenrock passed the late Al Brown at No. 3 on Memphis’s all-time coaching wins ledger with his 157th career victory on March 15 against UT Martin. Schoenrock needs only 17 more wins to reach a 200th career victory.
Bullpen Shuts The Door
Tiger closer Ben Paullusleads the team with seven appearances and two saves, but it’s been the work of four different pitchers that have sealed victories for Memphis. Paullus recorded his second save at Kennesaw State on Feb. 25 and has worked nine scoreless innings this season. Sam Moll and Dane Sharp each earned their first career saves with three inning efforts in game one and three, respectively, against Saint Peter’s. Heath Hatfield picked up a save in the season opener against Evansville.
Chap Is Back
Senior catcher Phillip Chapman showed no ill-effects of the season-ending forearm injury he suffered in the final series of the 2010 regular season. In his first action since the injury, the Clinton, Miss., native led Memphis with three hits and four RBI against Evansville on Feb. 19 and came back for three more hits in game two of the series. Chapman is batting .362 this season to go with 32 total bases. He has 21 hits and nine RBI.
Double Your Pleasure
Phillip Chapman leads the club with eight doubles this season. As a team, Memphis has 46 doubles this season. Chad Zurcher is second on the team with seven doubles. Chapman ranks third in C-USA with his eight doubles.
The Tiger duo of Drew Martinez and Chad Zurcher are back in form after leading the Tigers to its first Conference USA Tournament appearance since 2007. Both players were honored as 2011 Preseason All-C-USA performers. The Tigers All-C-USA tandem, which combined for 190 hits, 113 runs, 39 stolen bases and a .388 batting average in 2010, picked up where they left off, batting .406, with 54 hits and 33 runs scored this year. The duo has claimed 14 steals on the base paths and has 14 extra-base hits.