March 5, 2012
Mizzou (4-5) vs. Ball State (2-9)
Date: March 6
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Stadium: Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium (3,013)
Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
Media Notes: Game Notes - vs. UNO
First Pitch - What You Need to Know
Mizzou will look to extend its winning streak on Tuesday (March 6) as the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks come to Taylor Stadium for a single game at 6 p.m. Mizzou is coming off of a series win over Ball State last weekend as it took the final two games of the series, scoring 24 runs in those two games. The pair of wins snapped a four-game losing streak by the Tigers.
Series History The Tigers and Mavericks have met just once in program history and that meeting came back in 1970 when Mizzou defeated UNO, 11-1. In all, Mizzou is 43-12 against teams from the Summit League and it holds perfect records four Summit League schools, including Nebraska-Omaha.
Last Time Out Mizzou won its home-opening series against Ball State last weekend, despite dropping the home-opener, 5-2, on Friday night. The Tigers took game two of the series, 15-5, and won the finale, 9-2. As a team, Mizzou hit .283 with seven extra-base hits, including a homer and triple. The Tiger pitching staff was also very good, posting a weekend ERA o 3.67 with 29 strikeouts in in three games (9.7 per game).
Graves Set For First Career Start Tuesday's game with Nebraska-Omaha will mark the first career collegiate start for Brett Graves, a highly-touted freshman out of Francis Howell High School in St. Louis. Graves was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 26th round of the MLB Draft last season. He has made a pair of relief appearances this season, spanning just 0.2 innings, so Tuesday will be the first real look that fans will be able to get at Graves.
Everett Breaks Out Heading into the weekend series with Ball State, starting second baseman Dillon Everett was hitting just .063 despite playing in every game heading into the series. But he broke out of his slump in a big way, hitting .400 with four RBI, three runs scored and two doubles while slugging .600 with an OBP of .455.
Holovach Impresses Similar to Everett, junior lefty Blake Holovach had struggled prior to the Ball State series as a reliever, so the coaching staff moved him back to his more comfortable role as a starter, and he responded. In fact, he threw a career-best 5.0 innings while striking out eight Cardinal batters in his start on Sunday.
Tigers Continue Season-Long Homestand
Mizzou is in the midst of a 19-game scheduled homestand that runs throughout nearly the entire month of March. The homestand began with Ball State last weekend and concludes with a two-game series against Central Arkansas on March 27-28. Mizzou's next road game will not be until playing at Big 12 favorite Texas A&M on March 30.
Over the final two days of the Ball State series, the Tiger bats finally came to life as they scored 24 runs in the last two games, doing so on 23 hits. In fact, five Tigers posted multiple-RBI games last weekend, moving the team's season total to nine despite having just one such performance heading into the weekend. Dillon Everett tallied two of the multi-RBI games last weekend as did Blake Brown and Landon Lucansky. The other two Tigers to have multi-RBI games were Conner Mach and Michael McGraw.
More on the Offense
Mizzou scored 15 runs in its 15-5 win over Ball State last Saturday, marking the first time that a Tiger team has hit the 15-run mark since May, 2010, marking the first time since the switch to the new bats that the Tigers have accomplished that feat. Mizzou scored 15 runs in that game despite managing only 10 hits. In fact, Mizzou scored five runs in the first inning of that game with despite the Tigers not getting the ball out of the infield.
Tiger Pitching Staff Piles up Ks
Last weekend against Ball State, the Tiger pitching staff began to show the potential that helped the Tigers earn a fifth-place nod in the Big 12 preseason poll. In fact, the Tiger pitchers struck out 29 Cardinal batters over the three games (9.67 per game) and walked just five batters. Newcomer Blake Holovach led the team with a career-best eight Ks over five innings on Sunday while sophomore lefty Rob Zastryzny fanned seven Cardinal batters over 6.0 innings of work on Saturday. In fact, Mizzou posted a season-best 15 strikeouts in the win over Ball State on Sunday. Those 15 strikeouts in the game are just two behind Texas A&M's 17 against Holy Cross for the top mark in the Big 12 this season.
Lucansky Shines In First Series
Freshman infielder Landon Lucansky earned his first career start last Friday against Ball State and played in all three games against the Cardinals while putting up big numbers. While playing first base, Lucansky hit .273 with five runs driven in, including a two-run triple on Friday night, good for the first extra-base hit of his career. He also slugged .455 in 11 at-bats on the weekend. His five RBI on the weekend were the most by any Tiger on the weekend.
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 five appearances this season while Miles has allowed just one run in three appearances this season. Walsh has also picked up three saves in his five appearances this season. Their combined line is 9.2 IP, four hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts with three 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.
Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (73 of 75) 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
Outfielder Scott Sommerfeld has been on a tear lately as he owns a team-best six-game hit streak heading into Tuesday's while improving his average to .348 on the year, a team-best. He has eight hits in 23 at-bats with a double and four walks. 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 hitting .333 with two home runs, 17 total bases while slugging .630 with an OBP of .357. He has also driven in five runs and scored two more despite battling a nagging quad injury over the past several weeks.
Mizzou Perfect on the Base Paths
Mizzou knew speed would play a role on this year's team and the Tigers showed why over the weekend, converting 6-of-6 stolen base opportunities. Mizzou now has 12 steals in 18 chances this season.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Mizzou will continue its homestand this weekend as it host Charlotte in a four-game series that begins on Friday at 6 p.m. inside Taylor Stadium. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.