Baseball Opens 2011 at USC

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Conner Mach and the Tigers will open the season on Friday at USC.</i>
Conner Mach and the Tigers will open the season on Friday at USC.

Feb. 16, 2011

Mizzou Baseball at the USC Tournament
Date: Feb. 18-20
Location: Los Angeles, Calif. (USC)
Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
Opponents: Cal Poly (Fri. Noon), USC (Fri. 8 p.m.), UNC (Sun. Noon)
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Game Notes: USC Tournament Get Acrobat Reader

The First Pitch
- The Mizzou baseball team will open its 2011 season this weekend (Feb. 18-20) in Los Angeles, Calif., as it will square off against teams from USC, Cal-Poly and North Carolina. Mizzou joins North Carolina as the only teams in the tournament field to finish with a record above .500 a season ago.

- Mizzou returns 18 letterwinners to its roster in 2011, six of which were starting position players for the the Tigers in 2010. Of the six returning position players, the average line of those six is .279, three home runs and 22 RBI. Junior outfielder Ryan Gebhart is the Tigers' top returning hitter (.328) while senior outfielder Jonah Schmidt had the most home runs (seven) and RBIs (33) in 2010 among returning players this season.

- The Tigers also return 10 pitchers to their roster in 2011, highlighted by junior lefty Kelly Fick (2-2, 3.47 ERA) and senior southpaw Phil McCormick (6-1, 4.40 ERA). McCormick also led the Tigers with 36 apperances last season, a single-season Mizzou record.

- In looking at this weekend's tournament field, the Tigers are a combined 2-8 in 10 games played against USC, Cal-Poly and North Carolina. Mizzou is 2-2 all-time against Cal Poly with its last meeting against the Mustangs coming in 2008, a 6-3 win. Mizzou and USC have not met since 1964 when the Trojans edged the Tigers, 3-2, and the Tigers trail the all-time series, 0-4. Mizzou is 0-2 against North Carolina with the last meeting coming in NCAA Regional play in 2004. That year, the Tar Heels bested Mizzou, 4-3, in 11 innings.

- A pair of newcomers will start the first two games of the season for the Tigers in 2011, including Jefferson College transfer Matt Stites, who will start the Tigers' first game against Cal-Poly. Stites, a third-team NJCAA All-American last season, boasted a 1.67 ERA and a 9-2 record at Jefferson College and compiled a 16-5 record with his two years at the school. Rob Zastryzny (Corpus Chirsti, Texas) will get the start on Friday evening against USC. He was 26-4 in high school, including a 17-1 mark with a 0.20 ERA during his senior season. He was a high school All-American in 2010 as well.

 For Openers
The Tigers have won three of their last four season-opening games and six of their last eight. Under current Tiger head coach Tim Jamieson, the Tigers are 10-5-1 in season-openers and have never dropped two-consecutive season debuts, a trend that they hope stays alive at USC on Friday. A complete rundown of the Tigers' history in season openers is listed to the right. In fact, the Tigers' five losses in season-openers have come by only a combined 11 runs. On the Contrary, Mizzou has scored 11 or more runs in six season openers under Jamieson.

Going Back to Cali
Mizzou's appearance in the USC Tournament this weekend will be its first action in the state of California since 2008 when the Tigers played in a tournament hosted by San Diego. Coincidentally, that was also the last time that the Tigers met Cal Poly, topping the Mustangs, 6-3, in the tournament finale. Mizzou went 3-1 during its last trip to California and has seen plenty of success in the Golden State since 2006, compiling a 7-4 record including a 2006 NCAA Regional Championship at Pepperdine.

Newcomers bolster rotation
Mizzou has produced its fair share of high-caliber pitching prospects over the years and 2011 will offer fans a look at a pair of newcomers that will anchor the starting rotation. Jefferson College transfer Matt Stites will start on Friday morning while true freshman Rob Zastryzny will get the start on Friday evening. Stites was an NJCAA third team All-American at Jefferson College last season as he finished with a 9-2 record and a 1.67 ERA. In fact, he finished his two-year stint at Jefferson College with a 16-5 record. He was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs as well. Zastryzny, out of Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, is a high school All-American and posted a 17-1 record with a 0.20 ERA during his senior year in 2010. Adding both Stites and Zastryzny to a staff that returns 2010 ERA leader Kelly Fick, among other veterans, gives Mizzou plenty of options on the hill in 2011.

A Team Approach
The Tigers' main challenge in the first weekend of the season will be replacing names like Senne, Nicholas and Liberto, but the team seems to be up to the task. In fact, aside from losing the three names mentioned above, Mizzou lost just five players with at-bats in 2010 and returns 65-percent of its total at-bats from a season ago. Eric Garcia leads all Tiger returners with 156 at bats last year as he drove in 31 runs with six home runs and 11 doubles. Also returning to the lineup will be outfielders Jonah Schmidt, who finished the 2010 season with seven homeruns, and Dane Opel, who his .270 while driving in 30 runs. Opel also scored 38 runs last year, the most of any Tiger returning to the roster for the 2011 season.

Mach Looks to Break Out
Previewing the team would not be complete without mentioning junior Conner Mach. Mach, the brother of former Tiger Kyle Mach - a 2009 San Francisco Giants draft selection - led the Tigers during the Fall World Series with a .571 average in 21 at-bats with six runs, five RBI and 19 total bases. He also slugged .905 with four extra-base hits. He also boasted an eye-popping .640 on-base-percentage during the fall and was easily one of the Tigers' top offensive weapons.

Garcia Does It All
As mentioned earlier, sophomore Eric Garcia put together an impressive campaign in 2010 and will be asked to do the same in 2011. Garcia is the true definition of a utility player and he exhibited that during the Fall World Series. He led the team with 22 plate appearances in the fall and compiled a .318 average with seven hits while driving in five. He also tallied 11 total bases on the fall. But, that is not all that Garcia does for Mizzou. In fact, he saw time on the mound in the fall - allowing no earned runs in 3.2 innings (three appearances) and even earned a win. What was even more impressive is that he only allowed one hit in those 3.2 innings. Garcia will be looked upon to pitch in relief situations at times in 2011.

Breakout Fall for Champagne
Junior outfielder Brannon Champagne had just 17 plate appearances during the 2010 season but had a breakout fall and will look to challenge for a role in the lineup in 2011. In the fall, Champagne led the Gold Team with a .381 average with eight hits in 21 at-bats while driving in a team-high four runs. He also tallied a team-best 10 total bases and notched one triple. Mizzou has a loaded outfield in 2011 and Champagne will figure into the mix if he keeps turing heads like he did in the fall.

McCormick Sets Single Season Record in 2010
Senior southpaw Phil McCormick was a workhorse for the Tigers in 2010 as he set the Mizzou single season record for pitching appearances with 36. In all, McCormick pitched 28.2 total innings and compiled a 4.40 ERA, but what was most impressive is that the lefty finished tied with Nick Tepesch with a team-high six wins. His 6-1 record on the season was also the Tigers' best winning percentage in 2010. McCormick will be looked upon to once again provide a steady option for the Tigers in the mound in 2011.

Tiger Offense Looks to Pick Up Steam
As a team in 2010, the Tigers hit .288 which was their second-best total to finish a season since 2004. Mizzou hit .301 as a team in 2008 and .290 in 2004, but those are the only two years in the past seven seasons that rank ahead of Mizzou's average from a season ago. And with nearly 65-percent of last year's total plate appearances coming back this season, the offense will be looked at to provide another impressive season in 2011.

Anderson Getting Healthy
A big key to the Tigers' success in 2011 will be getting sophomore righty Eric Anderson healthy after off-season shoulder surgery. Anderson appeared in just 10 games last year but was a highly-touted recruit out of Highland Ranch, Colo., back when he signed with the Tigers in 2009. He was the Colorado State Pitcher of the Year according to the Denver Post and was a perfect 10-0 with a 1.71 ERA during his senior season. Before he is ready to go on the mound, Anderson will see reps at first base as he continues his rehab. But when Anderson returns to the mound, it gives the Tigers another great option, joining what should be a solid group on the hill.

Tigers To Play In Two Major League Stadiums In 2011
The Tigers have two games scheduled in two Major League stadiums during the 2011 season. Once again, Mizzou will play in both of the MLB stadiums in Missouri, starting with a March 29 contest against Illinois at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. One week later, Mizzou will face Kansas in a non-conference game at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals on April 6. This will mark the third-straight year that Missouri has played at Busch Stadium and the fourth year that Mizzou and Kansas will meet at Kauffman Stadium.

Closing in on win No. 550
Entering his 17th season at the helm of the Tiger program, head coach Tim Jamieson sits just six wins shy of win No. 550 as he boasts a 544-382-2 career record at Mizzou. He is second on the all-time coaching list at Mizzou behind only Tiger legend Gene McArtor (733 wins) and will likely pass the 550-win mark early this season. Jamieson has not had a losing season at Mizzou since 2002, one of only two during his 16 years at Mizzou.

Jamieson to Lead Team USA
Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson will lead the 2011 Collegiate National Team, as announced by USA Baseball back in November. He will be joined by pitching coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) and assistant coaches Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) and Scott Stricklin (Kent State).

Jamieson and Walton made their Team USA debuts together on the 2005 Collegiate National Team coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach and the pitching coach, respectively, for manager Steve Smith of Baylor. Van Horn and Stricklin will both be wearing the red, white and blue for the first time.

"We are thrilled to announce Tim Jamieson as our 2011 manager," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball General Manager of National Teams. "His experience from 2005 -- coaching players like David Price, Matt Wieters and Matt LaPorta -- will serve him well, and teaming him with Dave Van Horn, Scott Stricklin and Rob Walton will provide our athletes with a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best college coaches in the game. Once again, the college coaching community has rallied around the Collegiate National Team program."

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 48 players sign professional contracts and 57 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 homeruns 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 Aaron Crow - who are both seeing success in the minor leagues - should likely give Mizzou a presence in the major leagues for years to come.

A Look at the 2011 Schedule
The Tigers have 16 games against teams that qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament and will face two teams (Charlotte and Central Arkansas) for the first time in school history. Missouri will spend the first two weeks of the season on the road, starting with the tournament at USC, where it will face Southern California, Cal Poly and North Carolina. The following week, MU will travel to the East Coach for a four-game series at Charlotte.

The home schedule kicks off on March 4 when the Tigers open a four-game set against Illinois-Chicago. That game will kick off a 19-game homestand at Taylor Stadium. That homestand concludes with a three-game series against Oklahoma (March 25-27), which will open the Big 12 Conference season.

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 Tex Little is in his 21st season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mence, who returns for his third year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2011 is available at as part of Mizzou All-Access. All-Access is the Tiger fans home to live and archived games for Mizzou Athletics, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and much more. For more information, visit and click on the All-Access icon.

Up Next
Mizzou will hit the road again next weekend for a four-game tilt against Charlotte from Feb. 25-27. They will open on Friday at 3 p.m. (CT), play a doubleheader on Saturday and meet the 49ers once more on Sunday before returning to Columbia. Following that trip, Mizzou will be home for almost the entire month of March with home series scheduled each weekend. For all the latest news on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.



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