Diamond Hog Update - Opening Weekend

Much has happened in the world of college baseball since the Razorbacks lost a heartbreaker to Arizona St. in the Tempe Super Regional of the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  First, there's little chance that the Razorbacks will get a chance for revenge this season, as the Sun Devils have received a post-season ban for 2011 stemming from numerous NCAA major infractions from 2005-2009.  In other PAC10 news, this time with a Razorback connection, UC-Berkeley (who the Hogs played last season) has disbanded their baseball program due to budget concerns.  Jimmy Bosco, a former outfielder for Cal, transferred to Arkansas soon after the 2010 season concluded, but before Cal announced the discontinuation of their baseball program.  Bosco initially would have had to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules, but is now appealing that based on the NCAA ruling that Cal players may now transfer without penalty.  Nevermind.  NCAA denies Bosco's appeal... Thanks, NCAA!  The biggest story of 2010 was FIU's Garrett Wittels chasing Robin Ventura's 58-game Division I hitting streak.  Wittels ran into some trouble this past December, when he was arrested in the Bahamas and charged with raping two 17-year-old girls who apparently described themselves as students at the University of Arkansas.  The case is ongoing.  Wittels also was not suspended from any team activities at FIU, although his hitting streak came to an end at 56 games on Friday night, when he went 0-4 against Southern Louisiana. 

New rules have also been instituted for the 2011 season.  A 20-second pitch count has been established to speed up the game, and new bats, which have a smaller "sweet spot", have been adopted to reduce the speed of the ball coming off the bat.  These new bats have already seemed to have an effect on gameplay, as pop flies don't travel as far as they did in previous seasons.  We should see a lot more "small ball" this season, especially since power hitters like Brett Eibner, Andy Wilkins, and Zach Cox are gone to the pros.

* For the 2011 opening series, the Hogs had little trouble with the Delaware State Hornets, sweeping the series with a combined score of 24-2.

* Baseball recruiting is a bit more complicated than it is for other sports.  High school players are eligible to immediately enter the MLB draft without jeopardizing their amateur status.  However, if they choose to play collegiate baseball, they cannot re-enter the draft until they're 3 years removed from high school.  Because of this, schools always lose some of their recruits to pros, and the Hogs are no exception.  Coach Van Horn pulled a bit of a coup this season, when he convinced LHP Ryne Stanek to play for the Hogs instead of the Seattle Mariners (3rd round pick, 99th overall).  Stanek got the start on Saturday, and didn't disappoint... especially for a pitching staff that lost a lot of talent from last season.

* Arkansas began the season ranked 24th in the nation.  Not a bad place to start, considering this is widely considered to be a rebuilding year.

* Next weekend, the Hogs take on the Utah Utes at Baum Stadium in a 3 game series.

- First Opening Day shutout since 2004 (LA Tech, 2-0)
- Both the paid and actual attendance (8602 and 7526, respectively) are Arkansas Opening Day records, beating the previous record of 8297/6523 against Washington St. in 2009.
- The Hogs recorded their first home run of the season during game 3.

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