Baseball Opens Season at Auburn Tigers get a sneak peak at SEC competition in opening weekend.
Feb. 14, 2012
Mizzou at Auburn
Date: Feb. 17-19
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Stadium: Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park(4,096)
Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
Media Notes: Click Here
First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will open its 2012 season this weekend as it travels to Auburn, Ala., for a three-game series with Auburn University at Samford Stadium. The three-game series will begin Friday afternoon (Feb. 17) at 3 p.m. and conclude Sunday (Feb. 19) at 1 p.m. First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Series History Mizzou and Auburn have met just twice over the years, most recently in 2010 when Mizzou topped Auburn, 11-7, on Feb. 27 in a game that was also played at Auburn. Former Tiger Aaron Senne homered twice in that game and the top five spots in the Tiger order accounted for 13 of Mizzou's 14 hits. The two teams also met in 1996, with Mizzou claiming a 5-4 win over Auburn.
SEC Flare Of course, this weekend's series will serve as a preview of what the Tigers will see in the 2013 season when they officially join the Southeastern Conference. The series with Auburn is the first of two series against SEC schools that Mizzou has scheduled for this season. The other will come in May when the Tigers visit Arkansas for a pair of midweek games. In all, Mizzou holds a 36-33-1 overall record against schools currently in the SEC.
Anderson Back and Fully Healthy Heading into the 2012 season, the Tigers should have a strong weekend rotation, bolstered by a healthy Eric Anderson, who sparked the Tigers' second-half surge last season. Anderson went 3-0 last season and the Tigers won all but one of his seven starts after he returned to the starting rotation prior to the Baylor series last year. Mizzou was 6-1 in weekend games that he started last season, with the only loss coming in the Big 12 title game in which he pitched on three-days rest.
Plenty of Fresh Faces Despite returning the bulk of its batting order, the Tiger pitching staff will be full of fresh faces in 2012 as 17 newcomers have joined the team this season. Nine of the 17 newcomers are pitchers and the majority of them will make an immediate impact this season. Brett Graves and Brandon Platts were both MLB Draft picks over the summer and should play pivotal roles for the Tigers this season. Graves figures to be the team's closer while Platts will fight for a spot in the starting rotation.
Recapping Last Season
Mizzou finished the 2011 season on a surge that left it just one strike away from claiming the Big 12 Tournament title against eventual College World Series participant Texas A&M. Regardless, Mizzou won four of its final five Big 12 series and became the first-ever No. 8 seed to advance to the Big 12 Championship game. A lineup change by head coach Tim Jamieson prior to the Tigers' Baylor series and the insertion of Eric Anderson back into the starting rotation were the keys for the Tiger turnaround last season. Mizzou won 13 of its last 24 games last season and 12 of its last 20 Big 12 games, including posting a mark of 11-6 against teams that qualified for NCAA Regional play last year and a 4-2 mark against top-10 teams in that span.
What returns for Mizzou
The Tigers return a lot of firepower offensively and two of three weekend starters from a season ago. In all, Mizzou returns seven of nine position players from a season ago, including All-Big 12 honorable mention selection Blake Brown (.267, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 20 SB) in the outfield. Mizzou returns six of its top seven hitters from a season ago as well and only has to fill holes at the shortstop and designated hitter positions. Other key returners are listed below.
On the mound, Mizzou returns Eric Anderson (3-0, 4.93 ERA, 26 Ks, 12 BB) as its Friday night starter and Rob Zastryzny (2-5, 4.33 ERA, 70 Ks, 27 BB) returns for his sophomore season after landing on the All-Big 12 Freshman team a season ago. Dusty Ross and Jeff Emens also return for the Tiger bullpen.
What Mizzou Will Need to Replace
Although the Tigers return the majority of its team this year, they will need to replace two All-Big 12 honorees from a season ago. The biggest hole to fill will be replacing lefty closer Phil McCormick, who was as durable as any Tiger pitcher in school history. He appeared in a school record 36 games last season and led the Tigers in wins (eight), ERA (3.50) and saves (eight) as he was the team's most valuable pitcher. The Tigers will also need to replace their top hitter from a season ago - Jonah Schmidt. The senior led the team in hitting (.317), RBI (38), total bases (106), slugging (.486) while accounting for six home runs and 11 stolen bases.
Tigers Picked Fifth in the Big 12
The Mizzou baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 this season as announced by the conference office on Tuesday (Feb. 14). The fifth-place pick is the highest for the Tigers since 2009, when they were also picked fifth. The highest that Mizzou has ever been picked in the preseason poll is second in 2008.
MLB Draft Picks to Bolster Pitching Staff
A pair of MLB Draft picks out of high school decided to put their major league dreams aside and come pitch for Mizzou this season, giving the Tigers a pair of quality arms on the mound in 2012 to add to an already quality pitching rotation. Both Brandon Platts and Brett Graves could have begun their professional careers over the summer, but instead will be appearing on the hill for the Tigers this weekend. Platts was a 13th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates while Graves was chosen in the 26th round by the hometown St. Louis Cardinals.
Cline Earns Spot in Weekend Rotation
Heading into the season, the weekend rotation seemed to be set for the first two days with the return of Eric Anderson and Rob Zastryzny, but the Sunday spot was still up for grabs. Heading into this weekend's series with Auburn, redshirt sophomore Jeff Cline has claimed that spot. Cline, who transferred to Mizzou from Maplewoods Community College, boasted a 6-3 record and a 2.30 ERA last season. With his insertion into the weekend rotation, Cline should likely become one of the Tigers' top impact newcomers this season.
Mach Returns After Being Drafted
Tiger third baseman Conner Mach returned to Mizzou for his senior season despite being one of four Tigers drafted in last year's MLB Draft. Mach was drafted in the 46th round by the New York Yankees. Mach finished the season hitting .285 with 32 RBI and 31 runs scored. He boasted an OBP of .378 and slugged .399 on the year with 17 extra-base hits with four home runs. He was one of the Tigers' hottest bats following a lineup change prior to the Baylor series, hitting .321 with all four of his home runs in the span.
Speed an Asset for Tigers
Last year, the Tigers swiped 94 bases as a team, a mark that led the Big 12 throughout much of the season. Speed will likely play a role on this year's team as 65 of those 94 steals return this season. All-Big 12 outfielder Blake Brown is the Tigers' top returning base stealer with 20 last season, a mark that ties him for fourth all-time in Mizzou history and the most since Jayce Tingler also stole 20 in 2001.
As a team, the 94 steals were a school record, topping the previou mark of 83 stolen bases, which was set on two separate occasions. In fact, Mizzou had just 61 steals in the previous two seasons combined before swiping 94 bags last season.
Garcia Slides Back to Shortstop
A lineup change that sparked the Tigers' second-half surge last year saw Tiger infielder Eric Garcia move from second base to first base, a position that he had never played before. While he saw success in that spot, Garcia will move back to his familiar position at shortstop this season.
Mach Back on Infield
Another key component of last year's second half turnaround was moving Conner Mach to left field and after the change, he swung a very a hot bat. Mach should be one of the Tigers' top returning bats this season but figures to be back in the infield at third base. Mach leads all Tiger returners in total bases (91) and runs scored (65), while ranking second in RBI (32) from a season ago.
Brown Named CCL All-Star
Mizzou junior outfielder Blake Brown was selected to the 2011 California Collegiate League (CCL) All-Star Game over the summer while be played with the Santa Barbara Foresters. In all, he hit .291 with two home runs and was one of the team's top run producers with 12 RBI and 13 runs scored. He also slugged .509 with an OBP of .379 with eight walks and was a perfect 6-6 in the stolen base department this summer. He started 16 games and owned a perfect fielding percentage on the summer.
Jamieson Leads Team USA
Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson wrapped up his stint as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team head coach last summer. In all, Jamieson led the club to an 11-2-1 overall record. Jamieson's .821 winning percentage this summer is the eighth-best in Collegiate National Team history, which dates back to 1984 (28 seasons). The team's two losses are its fewest since 2008 when the team went 24-0.
Over the summer, Jamieson's only losses came to Japan and the NECBL All-Stars as his club was outstanding all summer long. Team USA still took the overall series from Japan after winning the first three games. Jamieson's team dominated nearly every facet of the game during the season as his team outhit opponents .277 to .207 and posted a 1.73 ERA to it opponents 4.98 clip. Team USA also scored 87 runs in 14 games (more than six per game) while limiting its opponents to 40 runs in 14 games (2.85 per game). Mizzou assistant coach Dan Pietroburgo was an auxiliary coach with the team as well this summer.
Anderson Pitches For Team USA
Team USA had another Mizzou connection this summer as well. Tiger junior Eric Anderson was one of the team's top pitchers over the summer. He led the team in ERA (0.00), wins (two) while ranking second in innings pitched (12.0). He allowed just eight hits and two walks in his 12.0 innings of work and did not allow a run while striking out seven batters. Prior to his stint with USA Baseball, Anderson threw two games with Falmouth in the Cape Cod League and posted a 1.50 ERA.
Francis Howell Connection
With 17 newcomers on the team, there will be plenty of fresh faces on the field for Mizzou this season, but for a trio of freshmen, there will be a familiar feel. In fact, for Brett Graves, Jake Ivory and Case Munson, the 2012 season will just be an extension of their high school careers where they played together for four seasons, winning a MSHSAA State Title for Francis Howell High School last season. The trio has been playing together for nearly 10 years and should give Mizzou a strong foundation moving forward.
Tigers Raise Money For Joplin
Mizzou baseball raised $12,796 for the Joplin, Mo., Little Leagues with its Joplin Relief Games against Iowa in the fall. The baseball program partnered with Daniel Boone Little League, the Diamond Council, BC Baseball and The Callaway Bank to create a welcoming atmosphere for fans at Taylor Stadium. Large crowds packed the stands and helped raise the money, which will go directly to helping Joplin Little League rebuild its fields, that were ravaged by a tornado on May 22, 2011.
Ticket sales proved to be a major source of revenue generated by the two-day event as a total of $3,710 was brought in through ticket sales alone. The sale of former Mizzou baseball jerseys raised $2,250 and $4,081 was collected in private donations. Also concession sales amounted to $620 sales after Wonder and Farmland generously donated the hot dogs and buns for the event. Rounding out the revenue generated, raffle sales pulled in $910 while a silent auction and online auction combined to pull in $925.
All of the money raised will go directly to helping rebuild the fields for Joplin Little League. Following the tornado, the Little League received plenty of supplies and equipment but was left with the daunting task of rebuilding its fields. The purpose of the event was to raise money specifically to help create a place for Joplin Little League to play this year.
Plackis Named to Mizzou `39
Mizzou baseball redshirt junior Andreas Plackis has been honored by the Mizzou Alumni Association as a recipient of the 2012 Mizzou `39 Award, an award given to 39 seniors at the University of Missouri based of their outstanding service, academic achievement and leadership. Plackis has been a model student during his time at Mizzou and he will graduate in May with a degree in Biological Sciences as he will pursue a medical degree following his undergraduate studies. Plackis was an Academic All-Big 12 recipient in 2010, and has displayed great leadership in his years with the baseball program. He earned the Chancellor's Excellence and Leadership Award in 2010, and was also the recipient of the 2010 MU Unsung Hero Award.
Tigers Have Strong Presence in Pros
Mizzou baseball has seen plenty of success over the last decade and proof of that is the number of players that the Tigers have sent to the major league. Since 2000, the Tigers have seen 50 players sign professional contracts and 59 Tigers have done so under the direction of Tim Jamieson. Some notable Tigers in the professional ranks include All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. Kinsler has been one of the most underrated players in the MLB over the past several seasons and maybe had his best year in 2009, slugging 31 home runs while driving in 86 runs and swiping 31 bags, doing so in just 144 games. Scherzer went 12-11 last year with a 3.50 ERA and 184 strikeouts in 195.2 innings pitched. Those two along with the likes of Kyle Gibson and AL All-Star Aaron Crow should likely give Mizzou a presence in the major leagues for years to come.
In addition, six Tigers were selected in last year's MLB Draft. Newcomers Brandon Platts and Brett Graves were both drafted out of high school. Platts was a 13th-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates while Graves went in the 26th round to the St. Louis Cardinals. Matt Stites was picked in the 17th round by the San Diego Padres while three more Tigers - Phil McCormick, Conner Mach and Zack Hardoin - were picked on the second day of the draft. McCormick went to the Giants in the 31st round while Mach was picked up in the 46th round by the New York Yankees. Hordoin was taken in the 47th round by the Houston Astros.
ON THE AIR
Once again this year, KTGR ESPN Radio is the radio home of the Tigers, with all of the game being broadcast on 100.5-FM and 1580-AM. The games can also be heard online at KTGR.com. Tex Little is in his 22nd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his second year as part of the MU broadcast team.
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2012 is available at mutigers.com as part of Mizzou All-Access. All-Access is the Tiger fans home for live and archived games for Mizzou Athletics, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and much more. For more information, visit mutigers.com and click on the All-Access icon.
The Tigers will continue their February road trips with a three-game series at San Francisco next weekend. Current Tiger pitching coach Matt Hobbs coached under the same title at San Francisco before coming to Mizzou last season. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.