The Extra Nine: The Carolina Trip

<i>The return of Eric Anderson to the mound was the highlight of the week.</i>

The return of Eric Anderson to the mound was the highlight of the week.

Feb. 26, 2014

By Brandon Weiss, correspondent

After a promising opening weekend, the Tigers took their talents to the Tarheel State, playing in a tournament hosted by Wake Forest and then hosting two games at the US Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. Mizzou won its first game of the road trip, a dominant 15-3 decision over Radford, but stumbled the rest of the way by dropping its final four contests. Still, the trip didn't lack in highlights- this week's extra nine.

1. EA returns
After missing the first week on the mound, senior Eric Anderson returned to the bump twice during the North Carolina road trip. The righty first appeared in Sunday's contest against Cincinnati, allowing one hit in one inning of work, and he got the start in the road trip finale against the Campbell Camels. It was his first start since May 17, 2013, and he threw two innings of one-run baseball, striking out one. He is penciled in to start Sunday at UALR.

2. Segovia stays hot
Shane Segovia has been a bright spot for a struggling Mizzou offense, leading the way with a .393 average in eight games, starting seven. Segovia went 6-for-20 over the five-game road trip to North Carolina, driving in six runs and scoring twice. Segovia was the only player to bat leadoff in relief of Dillon Everett on the road trip.

3. Pitchers fill it up
Mizzou pitching has made a living in the strike zone so far this season. The staff has accumulated a 2.05 walks-per-9 innings rate as well as a 57-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If the game against Cincinnati is discounted, the staff's numbers are an impressive 49 strikeouts to only nine free passes, as the team has put a clear emphasis on making the opposing hitters earn their way onto the basepaths.



4. Gravesyard hits North Carolina
Brett Graves shined in his game against Wake Forest on Saturday, with the junior pitcher fanning six Demon Deacons over seven innings of work. Graves held the tournament hosts off the board while scattering only three hits, walking none, and throwing an efficient 77 pitches in the outing, 53 for strikes.

5. Man of Steele handles metal
Reigning first-team All-SEC utility man Keaton Steele took his first cuts of 2014 over the weekend, walking once in the Tuesday game against Liberty, a game in which he also pitched. Steele accounted for one assist in the field as well as 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out one. Steele ranked third on the team in 2013 with a .276 batting average, driving in 24 runs and sending five balls over the fence.

6. Rash is back
Alec Rash returned to action for the first time since the 2013 season on Friday, striking out two batters in one inning of work. He returned to the mound on Wednesday, fanning one of the two batters he faced. Rash, the highest-drafted high school player in 2012 to turn down a professional contract, figures to be a key presence out of the pen this year for the Tigers.

7. DK goes bananas
Senior catcher Dylan Kelly's home run in Sunday's contest was the first of the season for Mizzou, getting the Tigers off the schneid. Mizzou hit 15 home runs in 2013, with Kelly already matching his total from last year of one. Kelly is tied for fifth on the team in RBI this season with three through the first eight games.

8. Injury report
Logan Pearson tweaked a hamstring in practice before the road trip and didn't travel with the team. The Tigers stayed healthy on the field through the five games on the road, but junior infielder Brett Peel figures to miss more time with a broken hamate bone.

9. Who's on deck
For the second consecutive year, weather has derailed Missouri's plans for the home opener. Mizzou missed its first two home weekend series last season, and this year they head south to Arkansas-Little Rock in place of its opening set, previously scheduled against Illinois-Chicago. The Tigers will play two games on Saturday, one against IUPU-Fort Wayne at 10 a.m. and a 6 p.m. contest against UIC. Mizzou will face UALR on Sunday at 1 p.m. to close out the improvised road trip.

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