Tigers Continue Season at Memphis

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MUTIGERS.COM

Feb. 20, 2013

Series: Mizzou (0-3) at Memphis (1-3)
When Feb. 22-24, 2013 | 5 p.m., 2 p.m., 1 p.m.
Location Memphis, Tenn. | FedExPark
Tickets Purchase Here
TV NONE
Radio KTGR - 103.1 FM, 100.5 FM, 1580 AM
Online Coverage Listen | GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT - Sunday
Printable Game Notes Missouri
Season Stats MissouriMemphis |
Series History Memphis Leads, 9-5
Last Meeting Memphis won, 8-7, on May 13, 2012
Streak Memphis - 1
Social Media @MUTigerBaseball, @MUTigersOnDeck  | Mizzou Network 

FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
After a tough opening weekend at No. 23 Southern Miss, the Mizzou baseball team will look to rebound as it faces another Conference USA team on the road as the Memphis Tigers will host a three-game set with Mizzou. Mizzou and Memphis will get the series started at 5 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 22) and play again on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 2 p.m. before closing the series at 1 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 23).

Series History • Of course, this three-game series is a return trip for Mizzou, which hosted Memphis in a three-game series at Taylor Stadium last May. The Memphis Tigers won two of three in that series, including a 6-4 win over the Tigers and this week's Friday night starter Rob Zastryzny, who gave up six earned runs over just 4.1 innings last year. Mizzou won the middle of the two games, 9-1, last year before losing the series finale, 8-7. In the Tigers' 9-1 win, John Miles had a career day, scattering just six hits and one earned run over 7.0 innings of work to earn the win. In all, Mizzou trails the all-time series, 5-9, after last year's series.

    Mizzou Notables vs. Memphis
    • Mizzou has lost six of the last eight meetings to Memphis dating back to 1978.
    • Memphis took two of three games from Mizzou in Columbia last season
    Brannon Champagne leads all active Tigers with a .364 career average vs. Memphis
    John Miles leads all active Tiger pitchers with a 1.29 career ERA vs. Memphis
    • Friday starter Rob Zastryzny has a 12.46 ERA vs. Memphis after allowing six runs in 4.1 innings last season.
    • Saturday starter Brett Graves allowed four runs (three earned) on just three hits in 3.1 innings vs Memphis.
    Jake Walsh has not allowed an earned run in two career appearances vs. Memphis.
    Dane Opel has a homer and three RBI vs. Memphis in his career.
    Scott Sommerfeld has a homer and two RBI vs. Memphis as well
Last Time Out • Mizzou was swept at the hands of Conference USA foe and 23rd-ranked Southern Miss in Hattiesburg last weekend. Despite the sweep, Mizzou led in each of the final two games before blowing leads in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Mizzou lost 5-2 on Friday night before falling 5-3 on Saturday and 6-1 on Sunday.

Starting Strong
One of the bright spots for the Tigers during their weekend at Southern Miss was the performance of the starting rotation. In fact, the Tiger starters combined for just four earned runs over 15.1 innings pitched, good for a 2.38 ERA on the weekend. If you look even closer at the numbers, the Tigers' Saturday and Sunday starters - Brett Graves and Jace James - the numbers are even better. In fact, those two combined to throw 10.0 innings, allowing two runs (only one earned) while scattering just seven hits with only one walk. Below is a look at each starters' performance last weekend.

    Rob Zastryzny (Friday) - 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks
    Brett Graves (Saturday) - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks
    Jace James (Sunday) - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    • Totals - 15.1 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 BBs, 9 Ks

In fact, Mizzou's starters own the fourth-best ERA among SEC teams that played three games last weekend while Mizzou's Saturday-Sunday duo owns the second-best combined ERA among Saturday and Sunday starters in the SEC this season, trailing only Mississippi State. Their combined 0.90 ERA trails only MSU's 0.81 ERA from its Saturday and Sunday starters. Keep in mind, two of the three schools ranked ahead of Mizzou in starters' ERA played unranked opponents at home while Mizzou played a ranked opponent on the road.

The Gravesyard
Sophomore starter Brett Graves was electric on Saturday at Southern Miss, giving up just one earned run on three hits while striking out five in his first start of the season. He induced plenty of late swings and kept Southern Miss off balance throughout the start. In fact, his five strikeouts in the game are the second-best total in his career while the five strikeouts match the amount that he had in his final six appearances last season, spanning 14 innings and two starts. With increased velocity and better location, look for Graves to begin to make a name for himself this season as he continues to send victims to the Gravesyard.

James Throws Well
Sophomore junior college transfer Jace James had a strong debut for the Tigers on Sunday at Southern Miss, as he threw 5.0 innings of shutout baseball, scattering just three hits and walking none as he kept a very good Southern Miss batting order in check in his first collegiate Division I outing. He is the first opening-weekend starter since former Tiger Kyle Gibson in 2009 to allow no earned runs in an opening-weekend start. Gibson threw threw 6.0 innings of three hit baseball, allowing no earned runs in the 2009 season-opener against Nevada. Remember, James' start came on the road against a top-25 team as well.

Clutch Tigers
During the first weekend of play, the Tigers didn't have a lot of chances to hit with runners on scoring position, but several Tigers did a nice job of hitting in those situations over the weekend. In fact, the Tiger foursome of Sal Belfonte, Keaton Steele, Dane Opel and Kendall Keeton went a combined 5-for-8 in those situations and it's not surprising that those four hitters combined for all five of the Tigers' RBI on the weekend. Conversely, the rest of the team was a combined 0-for-14 in those situations.

Belfonte Belts It
Heading into the opening weekend, the most competitive position battle was in the outfield with as many as six Tigers fighting for playing time. After this weekend, it is worth noting that of those six, Sal Belfonte put together the best weekend. In fact, he led the team with a .375 batting average while slugging a team-best .500. He also scored a run and stole a base and was perfect fielding. Belfonte played sparingly as a reserve for the past two seasons and was used primarily as a pinch runner, but with game-changing speed and an improved bat, Belfonte looks to be making a play to stay in the starting lineup.

Infield Takes Shape
This past weekend at Southern Miss, Mizzou got a good look at what it had along the infield as plenty of players got time. With Shane Segovia, the perceived starting shortstop hurt and Dillon Everett being sidelined for the final two games of the series, the Tiger coaching staff got a look at what several reserves can do. Kendall Keeton played at second base for the entire weekend and impressed, hitting .300 with a run and an RBI. He had a great debut on Friday night, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances. Also, after Everett went down on Friday night, freshman Josh Lester filled in at short and did a nice job, hitting .286 on the weekend, the third-best clip on the team. Segovia will likely be back this weekend at Memphis, so look for the infield to shift a little bit, but even with Segovia's return, there were plenty of positives to take away from the Tiger infield.

Rob Z Is the Friday Night Guy
Over the past two seasons, junior lefty Rob Zastryzny entered opening day as the Saturday starter but eventually evolved into the Friday Night Guy during each of the last two seasons. In 2011, he won the Friday night job after Matt Stites started the season in the Friday night spot. Last year, Eric Anderson started the season as the Tiger ace but was sidelined early in the season, once again moving Zatryzny to the Friday night role. This year, Zastryzny enters the season as the Tiger ace. He led the Tigers with 109.0 innings pitched and 17 starts last season and boasted a 3.80 ERA, tops among Tiger starters. He struck out 76 batters and walked just 31. He had a very uncharacteristic start on Friday at Southern Miss, giving up three earned runs in 5.1 innings as four walks and two hit batters plagued the Tiger righty. But, he did a nice job of pitching out of trouble for much of the game.

Anderson to Start
Another reason for excitement heading into the weekend is the rehabilitation of Tiger righty Eric Anderson, who underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16 of last season. In fact, Anderson is expected to pitch this weekend, a little more than nine months after having Tommy John surgery. Anderson will start Sunday against Memphis, marking his first start since March 9 of last season.

Anderson is a key arm in the Tiger arsenal. In 2011, after he returned from shoulder surgery, he ignited a Tiger team that won four of its last five Big 12 series and took the Tigers all the way to the Big 12 Championship game. That year, the Tigers went 6-1 in games started by Anderson following his return with their only loss coming in the Big 12 Championship game, in which he pitched on short rest. Last year, Anderson made just four starts before feeling discomfort in his elbow which led to him being sidelined until his surgery in May.

The Tiger BackStop
Heading into the weekend at Southern Miss, the catcher position was quite the battle between junior college transfer Dylan Kelly and sophomore Jake Ivory. Kelly started the first two games for the Tigers and was very good, hitting .250 with a run while handling the pitching staff very well. Ivory went 1-for-2 in his start on Sunday and threw out a base stealer while handling the Tiger pitching staff very well over his seven innings. It is clear that those two will continue to battle for the starting job as of this week.

Great Debut For Keeton
Junior college transfer Kendall Keeton had quite the debut as a Tiger last Friday night, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances while going 3-for-3 with a run and RBI while drawing a walk. So far this season, he is the only Tiger with a three-hit game. In fact, Keeton is the first Tiger since Aaron Senne in 2007 to reach base in each of his plate appearances in a season opener. Keeton was put into the lineup after Segovia went down with an injury but made his case to stay in the lineup with his performance over the weekend.

Lester Impresses in Debut
When the Tigers signed Josh Lester, they knew they were getting a player rooted deep in baseball lineage, but the 30th-round draftee impressed last weekend. Thrown into the fray at shortstop after the injury to Dillon Everett, Lester did a nice job of putting together quality at-bats for the Tigers. He hit .286 on the weekend - third-best on the team - while playing short for the first time as a Tiger, including all of fall and winter practice. After the weekend, it appears that the future is bright for Lester.

Rash Electrifies
Freshman righty Alec Rash came into the season with lofty expectations as he was the highest-drafted high school player to go to college and he lived up to those expectations in his lobe appearance last weekend. In fact, Rash struck out the first Division I batter he faced in USM's Travis Creel and retired the side in order on just 10 pitches, showing great command and high velocity. The key for Rash will be consistency, but there is reason for excitement moving forward.

A New Era Begins
2013 marks the beginning of a new era for the Mizzou baseball program as it embarks upon its inaugural season as members of the Southeastern Conference. Widely considered as the premier conference in all of college baseball, Mizzou has fared well against SEC competition in the past, boasting an all-time record of 38-36-1 against the 12 schools that both Mizzou and Texas A&M will join this season. Mizzou played two series against SEC teams last year, taking two of three at Auburn while being swept at Arkansas in a two-game midweek series. As another note, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson is the only current SEC coach to win at least 600 games at his current school.

Recruiting Class Garners National Praise
the Mizzou baseball team transitions to the SEC this season, it will be bolstered by a 2012 recruiting that ranks 24th nationally according to Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com. The Tigers ranked one spot ahead of defending NCAA National Champion Arizona, the same team that eliminated Mizzou from the NCAA Tournament last year. The class, put together by the Mizzou coaching staff includes 19 student-athletes.

Rash Turns Down Big Money For Mizzou
One of the key contributors to the Tigers' recruiting class garnering national attention was the addition of Iowa-native Alec Rash. A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, Rash was the highest-drafted high school player to elect to go to school instead of beginning a major league career. While it is unknown what role Rash may fill this season, his power arm will be a welcome addition to Mizzou's pitching arsenal.

Buy Baseball Season Tickets
As the Mizzou baseball program prepares for its inaugural season as members of the nation's premier baseball league, the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers on counting on the support from Mizzou Nation this year. Season tickets for the 2013 Mizzou campaign are still available to the public, and the first 500 fans to purchase season tickets will receive a free Mizzou baseball hat. At just $60 for adults and $30 for youth, Mizzou baseball season tickets are one of the most affordable packages in the SEC and give fans a chance to see every game at Taylor Stadium for just $2 per contest. A family pass (two adults/two children) is also on sale for just $150.

Little League World Series Connection
When Josh Lester and Ryan Phillips committed to play baseball at Mizzou, they were unaware that they had a unique connection. In fact, both players played in the 2006 Little League World Series and Lester's team won the tournament. Lester and Phillips never met in the series as the two were in different pools, but both remember watching the other play. Lester's team that won the Little League World Series kept that core group of players intact and went on to win three Georgia State Championships while they were in high school.

Tigers Televised Four Times Through SEC Deal
With the Mizzou baseball program entering its inaugural season as a member of the Southeastern Conference, the program will see four of its games televised to a national audience as part of the SEC's television deal, which is widely accepted as the nation's premier college baseball television package. The Tigers will appear on ESPNU twice while appearing on the SEC Network through Fox Sports for two additional games. Mizzou's only home game as part of the SEC television deal will be on Saturday, March 30, when No. 10 LSU visits Taylor Stadium for a 1 p.m. tilt.

    Televised SEC Games
    • March 30 vs. No. 10 LSU - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
    • April 6 at Georgia - 7 p.m. - ESPNU
    • April 13 at No. 2 Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. - ESPNU
    • May 11 at Alabama - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports

Additionally, Mizzou's regular season finale against No. 11 Kentucky has been picked up to air live on the Mizzou Sports Network. That game will air live statewide on Fox Sports Midwest.

Ian Kinsler Inducted into Mizzou Hall of Fame
Former Mizzou standout Ian Kinsler was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in February. Although he played only one season at Mizzou, Tiger Head Coach Tim Jamieson credits him with being a key figure in helping turn the program around, as he was instrumental in leading Mizzou back to the NCAA Tournament in 2003, after a six-year drought. That 2003 NCAA appearance started a string of seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the Tiger program. After transferring to Mizzou from Arizona State and junior college, Kinsler batted .335 for Mizzou in 2003, and was third on the team with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also went 16-of-17 in stolen bases during the season, and was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 for his efforts.

Of course, most people know Kinsler for his outstanding professional baseball career. After being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003, Kinsler made the big league squad in 2006, and promptly won the Rangers' Rookie of the Year award for hitting .286 with 14 homers and 55 RBI. He has since made three American League All-Star teams (2008, 2010, 2012), and hit a career-best .319 in 2008, while he followed that with a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBI in 2009.

Jamieson Signs Extension
The Mizzou Department of the Athletics and Athletics Director Mike Alden announced back in September that a two-year contract extension for Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson had been reached. The two-year deal will keep Jamieson, who is the school's longest current-tenured head coach, at Mizzou through the 2015 season.

"We're so pleased with the job Coach Jamieson is doing with our program" director of athletics Mike Alden said. "Coming off of the Big 12 Championship, we are looking forward to the challenges ahead in the SEC. Tim, his staff and our students are a tremendous reflection of the core values of the University of Missouri."

Join Tigers on Deck
As the 2013 Mizzou baseball season inches closer, Mizzou students are reminded to join the official Mizzou baseball student section: Tigers on Deck. Mizzou students already receive free admission to every Mizzou baseball game with a student ID, but members of Tigers on Deck will be the beneficiaries of a variety of Mizzou baseball perks, including free pregame tailgates and other great promotions throughout the season, listed below. To join, e-mail MUTigersOnDeck@yahoo.com.

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 and Aaron Crow of the Royals.

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 103.1-FM, 100.5-FM and 1580-AM. The games can also be heard online at KTGR.com. Tex Little is in his 23rd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his third year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Mizzou Network
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2013 is available at mutigers.tv as part of the Mizzou Network. Mizzou Network is the Tiger fans home for live and archived games, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and more. For more information, visit mutigers.tv and click on the Mizzou Network icon.

Up Next
The Tigers will return to Columbia for their home opener against Big Ten foe Northwestern on March 1 at Taylor Stadium. The home opener is slated to begin at 6 p.m. The series will have a unique connection for Tiger infielder Dillon Everett as his older brother, Colby Everett, is a senior with the Wildcats.

 

 

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