Baseball Headed West to San Francisco

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Eric Garcia and the Tigers take on the Dons in a three-game series this weekend.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Eric Garcia and the Tigers take on the Dons in a three-game series this weekend.
MUTIGERS.COM

Feb. 22, 2012

Mizzou at San Francisco
• Date: Feb.24-26
• Location: San Francisco, Calif.
• Stadium: Benedetti Diamond (1,000)
• Gametracker: MUTigers.com
• Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
• Media Notes: Media Notes - at San Francisco Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
After taking a three-game series at future SEC rival Auburn last weekend, the Mizzou baseball team will be back in action this weekend as it travels to San Francisco for a three-game series with the Dons, beginning Friday (Feb. 24) at 4 p.m.

Series History • This will be the first ever meetings between the Tigers and the Dons. However, there will be a bit of a familiar feel for the Tiger coaching staff, as current pitching coach Matt Hobbs spent the 2010 season as the Dons' pitching coach before coming to Mizzou last season. His 2010 pitching staff at USF ranked fourth in the West Coast Conference in ERA and was second in the league in fewest walks per nine innings.

Last Time Out • Mizzou is coming off of a successful weekend at Auburn as the Tigers took two of three from their future SEC rival, thanks to a doubleheader sweep on Sunday (Feb. 19). The series win moved the Tigers to 2-1 on the season and 4-1 all-time against Auburn. In fact, Mizzou, which will join the SEC next season, now has a winning record all-time against current SEC schools.

Opel Has Huge Weekend • Junior lefty Dane Opel had arguably his best weekend as a Tiger at Auburn, leading the Tigers with a .500 average in three games while hitting a pair of home runs and driving in four. He also scored a pair of runs, walked once and slugged 1.000 with an OBP of .538. All of those stats rank among the Big 12 top 10 after week one while his slugging percentage is tops in the league as are his two home runs. He became the first Tiger since 2010 to tally a pair of home runs in a single game. For his efforts over the weekend, Opel was honored as the Big 12 Player of the Week, becoming the first Tiger to earn a Big 12 weekly honor since Jonah Schmidt earned Big 12 Player of the Week following the Tigers' series win at Kansas State on May 9 last season.

Walsh Solidifies Closer Role • Newcomer Jake Walsh may have been the Tigers' most impactful arm over the weekend at Auburn. He allowed no earned runs while picking up a league-best two saves in the Auburn series. He threw 2.2 innings and allowed just two hits while striking out a pair of batters.

Recapping Last Weekend
Mizzou opened its 2012 campaign by taking two of three games from SEC foe Auburn last weekend. As a team, Mizzou was out-hit by Auburn in the series and had a higher ERA, but still found a way to take two of three from its future conference foe. Finding a way to win has been a trend for the Tigers since they won five of their last six series last season and advanced all the way to the Big 12 title game. Mizzou dropped game one of the series, 5-2, before rallying to sweep a doubleheader on Sunday, 6-4 and 4-3, respectively.

Going Back to Cali
This weekend's trip out west marks the Tigers' second straight season in which they will play in California after playing in last year's season-opening tournament at USC. Prior to this stretch, Mizzou had not played in California since 2008, when they played in a tournament hosted by San Diego. Since 2006, Mizzou is 8-6 in games played in California, but has lost two of its last three contests. In all, Mizzou is 16-19 overall against teams from California and the Tigers are 14-17 against West Coast Conference opponents.

Three of Six Big 12 Player of the Week Awards
After junior outfielder Dane Opel claimed Big 12 Player of the Week honors this week, the Tigers have now won three of the last six Big 12 weekly awards, dating back to April 26 last season when Conner Mach earned the distinction following a big series at Baylor. No other team since the beginning of the 2011 season has won three of six Big 12 Player of the Week awards.

Tigers Using the Long Ball
Following the first weekend of play, Mizzou has posted three home runs, a considerable improvement from a year ago when it took the team seven games to tally three home runs. Outfielder Dane Opel hit two of the three homers while Blake Brown added the other. Opel has already doubled his home run production from a season ago and looks more like the player that hit .270 with three home runs and 30 RBI in his freshman season rather than the one that hit a mere .209 with one home run in 2011.

Opel Shows Improvement
Staying on the topic of Dane Opel's hot bat, the Tiger junior looks primed to bounce back from a disappointing year in 2011. He hit just .209 last season and struck out 30 times in just 115 at-bats with an OBP of under .300. Opel did show glimpses of power, with nine of his 24 hits going for extra bases. He seems to be returning to form after battling through a shoulder injury much of last season. He hit .330 with three home runs and seven RBI while scoring 13 runs with the Danbury Westerners over the summer. He also walked 18 times last summer and owned an OBP of .449. Combine that with his .466 slugging percentage and his OPS was 915.

Talent in the Outfield
Heading into the season, the Tiger coaching staff knew that the outfield was going to play a pivotal role in the Tigers' success in 2012, and that played true in the opening weekend. In fact, the Tigers' starting outfield - comprised of Dane Opel (LF), Brannon Champagne (CF), Blake Brown (RF), - hit a combined .406 with seven runs, six RBI, three home runs, seven walks and an OBP of .512 and a .688 slugging percentage. That is good for an OPS of 1.200 through the first week of play. While the sample size is small, the results bode well for the Tigers after week one.

Road Warriors?
Mizzou picked up a pair of road wins in the opening weekend at Auburn, which is a great start for a team that won just seven true road games all of last season. In fact, Mizzou didn't pick up its second road win until its 27th game of the season last year. The Tigers lost nine of their first 11 road games last season, and is already far ahead of that pace from a season ago.

Mizzou Starting Quicker
Staying on the topic of improved play early in the season, Mizzou's two wins through three games are a vast improvement from last year's team which won just two of its first eight games. Not to mention, the Tigers' two wins this season came on the road at an SEC school.

Plackis Moves to First Base
Redshirt junior Andreas Plackis looks primed for a bounce-back year as he has found a new position at first base. After spending his first years with the program as a catcher, Plackis has made the move to first base and played well at that position in the Tigers' three games at Auburn last weekend. He hit .286 with one double in seven at-bats and was perfect in the field with 11 put-outs and three assists.

Tigers Commit Just Two Errors Last Weekend
One key to the Tigers' success at Auburn last weekend was the play of the defense. They committed just two errors as a team, good for a .980 fielding percentage. That number is even more remarkable considering the games were played on the road and Mizzou had been able to practice outside only a handful of times before hitting the road to Auburn. Mizzou had five errors in the first three games last season and finished with a .965 fielding percentage as a team last season.

Five Pitchers with Perfect ERAs
After the first weekend of play, the Tigers have to feel pretty comfortable with their pitching staff as five pitchers boast a perfect ERA following the three-game series at Auburn. The five bullpen pitchers - Jeff Emens, Jake Walsh, Dusty Ross, John Miles, Brett Graves - combined to throw 8.1 innings of shutout baseball, while giving up just 11 hits and striking out four. Emens did the majority of that work with 3.2 shutout innings, while earning the win in the second game of the series. Walsh and Ross were also very good, combining for 4.1 innings of shutout baseball with two strikeouts.

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 year. 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.

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 during that 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 previous 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.

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) amd 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, posting 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.

Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium Named Field of the Year
Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium, the home of the Mizzou baseball team, was named 2011 College and University Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). The field is maintained and cared for by Mizzou Turf Specialist Josh McPherson and his staff.

"Each year, evaluating the applicant pool is very difficult," said Allen Johnson, CSFM, STMA Awards Committee Chairman. "The quality of the applicants continues to improve and this year's winners truly deserved the award."

"The Field of the Year Award validates the intense dedication of our members," said Kim Heck, CEO of the Sports Turf Managers Association. "Each year STMA awards no more than 14 Fields of the Year, so a very small percentage of our members are winners. Josh McPherson and his crew are very deserving of this prestigious award for Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium," says Heck.

The STMA Field of the Year Award program began in 1992. There are five field types for which awards may be given: Baseball, Football, Soccer, Softball and Sporting Grounds. For each field type, awards may be given in three categories: Professional, College and University, and Schools and Parks. This year there were a total of eleven awards presented.

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. 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.

ALL-ACCESS
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.

UP NEXT
Mizzou will be back in action as it will open its home schedule on Friday, March 2, as Ball State visits Taylor Stadium for a 6 p.m. game. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

 

 

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