Feb. 24, 2013
By Mizzou Correspondent Brandon Weiss
After the second series of the season, Mizzou is still searching for its first win of the 2013 campaign. The Tigers saw their largest lead of the season on Saturday, leading 3-0 at one point over Memphis. Highlights for Missouri were nonetheless easy to come by, as stud pitcher Eric Anderson returned from Tommy John, and Dylan Kelly caught fire at the plate.
Now on to week two of The Extra Nine:
1 - An Ace Returns
Just over nine months off Tommy John surgery, Anderson made his 2013 debut on the mound by registering the Sunday start for Mizzou. Anderson allowed a run in the first inning of the contest after allowing two doubles and a walk, but he finished his two innings of play with a workmanlike 19 strikes on 31 pitches, with one walk and one hit batsman. A Team USA and Cape Cod League pitcher in 2011, look for Anderson to shine as he regains his footing in live action this season. In 2011, Mizzou was 6-1 in games that he started, with its only loss in those seven games coming in the Big 12 Championship Game in which Anderson pitched on just three days rest.
2 - Graves Is Golden
3 - Steele Doesn't Fold
Brett Graves shined opening weekend with a brilliant five-inning performance in which he allowed just one earned run and fanned five Southern Mississippi batters. He was impressive again this weekend, going 6.1 innings and notching five strikeouts again, but a seventh-inning in which he was tagged for three runs led to the right-handed hurler's first loss of the season. Graves has been very impressive this year with the bases empty, and he was dominant for most of his outing against Memphis as he retired the first 13 batters he faced, carrying a perfect game into the fifth inning.
has been more than solid at the plate this season for Mizzou. Most impressive is the fact that all of Steele's hits this season have come with runners in scoring position. Lauded by Mizzou baseball radio host Hunter Mense
as a great situational hitter, Steele has not disappointed. He currently stands at 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and he leads the team with four RBI, tallying two RBI in each weekend of the season.
4 - Kelly On Fire
Arguably the best weekend performance for Mizzou went to catcher Dylan Kelly, who batted an unconscious .556 (5-for-9) at the dish against Memphis. Kelly, who went 3-for-3 in the series finale before being lifted for a pinch runner, also scored a run on the weekend. His impressive numbers didn't stop at batting average, as he flaunted an OPS of 1.156, a 2-for-2 performance at the plate with two strikes on Sunday, and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, including 15 putouts and five assists.
5 - Rash Steps Up
Freshman Alec Rash made his first appearance as a Tiger against Southern Mississippi, striking out the first batter he saw as a collegiate baseball player. He followed up his one shutout frame from last week with a dazzling Sunday performance this time around, throwing four innings without surrendering an earned run. Through his weekend workload, Rash struck out three and walked one, and he allowed just one hit to Memphis while holding opposing batters to just a .067 average after surrendering just one hit.
6 - Segovia Debuts
After sitting out the opening weekend while nursing a tweaked hamstring, shortstop Shane Segovia made his much-anticipated debut as a Missouri Tiger against Memphis. Segovia went 2-for-10 at the plate while seeing his first live action of the season, and he can claim a .929 fielding percentage with two putouts and 11 assists as he returns to Columbia.
7 - Late Game Losses
The 0-6 record on the season is not close to being indicative of the competitiveness of this Missouri squad, as the Tigers have either led or been tied in the seventh inning in four of the last five contests. Late game situations have been the "Achilles heel" of the Tigers thus far, as Mizzou's opponents have outscored the Tigers 28-5 after the fifth inning this season.
8 - Injury Update
With Anderson and Segovia returning to the lineup this weekend, the Mizzou injury list has decreased. Dillon Everett had surgery on Wednesday (Feb. 20), and his rehab was projected to last between 10 and 20 days. Gavin Stark hurt his knee in warm-ups before Sunday's game against Memphis, and he is listed as day-to-day as he undergoes further tests to diagnose his ailment.
9 - What's Next
The Tigers will play host to the Northwestern Wildcats next weekend, the first scheduled home series of the season for Missouri, although heavy snow is in the forecast early in the week in Columbia. Mizzou leads the all-time series against their Big Ten foes by a 3-2 score, although the Wildcats took the last meeting between the two teams 5-3 in 2003. This will be the first ever three-game set between the two squads. Of course, Dillon Everett's older brother, Colby, plays for Northwestern, giving the Everett brothers a unique chance to see their squads compete against one another at the collegiate level.
The last time the two teams met, in 2003, a pair of big leaguers squared off as starting pitchers in that game - Mizzou's Justin James and Northwestern's J.A. Happ. James most recently pitched with the Oakland Athletics while Happ was the 2009 Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year and won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008. He is currently with the Toronto Blue Jays.