Baseball Opens Home Schedule Friday vs. Ball State

MUTIGERS.COM
<i>Jeff Emens has yet to give up a run for the Tigers this season.</i>

MUTIGERS.COM
Jeff Emens has yet to give up a run for the Tigers this season.
MUTIGERS.COM

Feb. 29, 2012

Mizzou vs. Ball State
• Date: March 3-5
• Location: Columbia, Mo.
• Stadium: Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium (3,013)
• Gametracker: MUTigers.com
• Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
• Media Notes: Series Notes - vs. Ball State Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
After six games away from home to open the season, the Mizzou baseball team will host Ball State in its 2012 home-opening series this weekend at Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium. The Tigers and Cardinals will open their three-game series at 6 p.m. on Friday (March 2) and will play at 2 p.m. Saturday (March 3) before hosting the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday (March 4).

Series History • Mizzou leads the all-time series with Ball State, 3-1, after winning three of four from the Cardinals back in 2009. The Tigers took game one of that series, 4-1, before dropping the first of a doubleheader on Saturday, 14-5. But Mizzou rallied to win the final two games, 18-4 and 7-6. Mizzou is 38-8 against schools from the MAC all-time.

The good news for the Tigers is that current Tiger third baseman Conner Mach hit .538 in that series (seven hits in 13 at-bats) with five runs scored, six RBI, a home run and three doubles. The only other current Tiger to see action in that series was catcher Ben Turner who went 0-1 at the plate.

Last Time Out • Mizzou is coming off of a dissapointing weekend in which it tallied just two runs and 14 hits in a three-game series at San Francisco. Mizzou dropped the first game, 3-1, while facing USF ace Kyle Zimmer, who is projected as a potential No. 1 pick in this year's MLB Draft before dropping the next two games, 3-1 and 6-0, respectively. Only two Tigers - Scott Sommerfeld (3-for-6) and Ben Turner (3-for-11) hit better than .270.

Emens Shines Out of Pen • A bright spot for the Tigers to take away from last weekend's series at USF was the pitching of senior Jeff Emens. He still owns a flawless ERA on the season as he appeared in all three gmes last weekend, pitching 4.0 innings of hitless baseball while striking out two. On the season, Emens has yet to give an earned run in 7.1 innings pitched.

Tiger Fielding Improved • Heading into the weekend against Ball State, the Tiger defense has been very good. In fact, Mizzou is third in the Big 12 in fielding percentage (.985) just .001 off of second place Baylor. The Tigers have just three errors on the season, which is second in the Big 12 behind only Texas A&M.

Road Warriors Come Home
After spending the first two weekends of the 2012 season on the road, Mizzou comes home this weekend to open a 19-game homestand in the month of March. That will take the Tigers all the way from nonconference play to the opening of Big 12 league action against Oklahoma State. Mizzou's next road trip will not be until March 30 at Big 12 favorite Texas A&M.

Anderson Pitching Well
Junior righty Eric Anderson came into the season with high expectations this year and so far, he has not dissapointed. Despite being 0-2, Anderson has put together a pair of quality starts this season, including a season-best 7.1 innings at San Francisco last Friday in which he allowed just two earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and just one walk.

On the season, Anderson appears to be in midseason form as he owns an ERA of 2.70 in 13.1 innings pitched and has given up just four earned runs while striking out nine. In fact, he owns a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 9-1 early this season.

Pair of Newcomers Shine on the Mound
When looking at the Tiger pitching staff, a pair of newcomers - Jake Walsh and John Miles - have impressed so far this season. Walsh has not given up a run in four appearances this season while Miles has allowed just one hit in two appearances this season. Their combined line is 6.0 IP, three hits, two walks and six strikeouts with a pair of saves. Walsh impressed in the Tigers' opening weekend at Auburn when he posted a pair of saves while pitching in all three games at Auburn. Miles impressed last weekend, pitching 2.0 innings with just one hit while striking out four Don batters in the outing.

Turner Catches Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught every inning (52.0) for the Tigers so far this season and will likely continue that pace all season. Turner is tops on a depth chart at the catcher position that includes three newcomers and a redshirt freshman. Although it is early, something to track will be the amount of innings that Turner will catch this season. Since 2004, no Tiger catcher has started more than 54 games (JC Fields in 2006). Turner's 44 starts at catcher last season are the most since Trevor Coleman started 53 games in 2008.

Sommerfeld Heating Up
Despite starting just four of the Tigers' six games this season, outfielder Scott Sommerfeld has been on a tear lately as he owns a team-best three-game hit streak heading into the weekend while improving his average to .357 on the year. He has five hits in 14 at-bats with a double and a walk. He is second on the team behind Dane Opel in nearly every category as well, including slugging (.429), OBP (.400) and total bases. Last season, Sommerfeld hit .304 while taking reps at first base, but his defense at the position made it a risk to have him in the lineup. Now, with a spot in the outfield, Sommerfeld is hitting as well as he has throughout his career.

Opel Shows Improvement
Dane Opel 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 and is currently leading the Tigers in batting (.389), hits (seven), extra-base hits (three), total bases (14), home runs (two), slugging (.778) and OBP (.421) despite fighiting a nagging quad injury last weekend.

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. He hit .286 with one double in seven at-bats and was perfect in the field with 11 put-outs and three assists.

Opel Earns Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior lefty Dane Opel had arguably his best weekend as a Tiger at Auburn in week one, 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 that 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.

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 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 who 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.

Preparing for the Future
Mizzou opened its 2012 campaign by taking two of three games from SEC foe Auburn in the opening weekend. The series win for the Tigers holds significance because Mizzou will make the move from the Big 12 to the SEC next season. With the two wins, the Tigers are now 38-34-1 against teams currently in the SEC, which is arguably the best baseball conference in America.

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) and 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 on Tuesday (March 6) against Nebraska-Omaha at 6 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. Mizzou will then host a four-game series with Charlotte next weekend. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

 

 

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