Tigers Look to Extend Win Streak Against North Dakota

<i>Mizzou is on a season-best six-game win streak</i>

Mizzou is on a season-best six-game win streak

March 12, 2012

Mizzou (8-5) vs. North Dakota (1-8)
• Date: March 13-14
• 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. UND Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
Riding a season-high six-game winning streak, the Mizzou baseball team will continue its March homestand as North Dakota will visit Taylor Stadium for a paor of midweek games, beginning Tuesday (March 13). The Tigers and Fighting Sioux will play at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and conclude the series at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Series History • Mizzou owns a 6-0 lead in the all-time series with North Dakota, a series that dates back to the 1976 season when Gene McArtor's Tigers took a pair of games from UND. The teams last met in 2010 when Tim Jamieson's Tigers swept a three-game series, 17-5 on Friday, 7-3 on Saturday and 6-0 on Sunday.

Career Stats vs. Charlotte • Heading into this weekend's series, several Tigers have had success against UND in their careers as the two teams have met as recently as 2010. Below are a few notable performers from last 2010's series.

    Eric Garcia - .600 avg., 3 runs, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 1.000 slugging, 1 homerun
    Blake Brown - .375 avg., 2 runs, 1 RBI, 1 HR, .750 slugging, 1 double
    Brannon Champagne - .286 avg., 1 run, 2 RBI
A Familiar Face • When North Dakota comes to Mizzou this week, some may recognize a familiar face as former Tiger JC Field is an assistant coach with UND. Field was part of the Tigers' 2005 and 2006 NCAA Reigonal Teams as he was the Tiger backstop that season, catching for current major leaguers Max Scherzer and Doug Mathis. Field serves as the hitting and catching coach for UND as well as the team's third base coach.

Tigers Get Redemption • Mizzou swept a three-game series with Charlotte last weekend, earning redmeption after losing three of four at Charlotte last season. Mizzou won the Friday night game behind a strong offensive performance, 10-4, before using pitching to sweep a doubleheader on Saturday, 5-3 and 3-2. Dane Opel was the Tigers' top offensive weapon as he hit .462 with two home runs, six runs and five RBI in four games last week. Scott Sommerfeld also continued his hot hitting against Charlotte, hitting .385 and extending his hit streak to 10 games, the best by a Tiger this season.

Tigers Carry Season-Long Win Streak
Heading into this week's series with North Dakota, the Tigers are riding a season-long three-game win streak after sweeping Charlotte at Taylor Stadium last weekend. Mizzou had lost four straight before its current six-game win streak. During the six game stream, Mizzou is hitting .318 as a team with 56 runs while allowing just 20 runs. The Tiger pitching staff also boasts an ERA of 2.83 in that span, allowing just 17 earned runs over the last six games.

Offense Explodes
Mizzou's offense was much maligned following the Tigers' three-game sweep at the hands of San Francisco and then the bats fell under even more scrutiny following the Friday night loss to Ball State. But since that point, the Tiger offense has been red hot. In fact, as a team the Tigers are hitting .318 with an OBP of .428. In those six games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents, 56-20, while seven of the Tigers' nine regular position players are hitting .316 or better, highlighted by a .417 clip from both Conner Mach and Eric Garcia.

More on the Offense
Mizzou scored 15 runs in its 15-5 win over Ball State on March 3, 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. Those 15 runs are the most by a Big 12 team this season The Tigers came close to that run total again against UNO last Tuesday, setting season-highs in hits (14), RBI (12), total bases (21) and extra-base hits (four).

Breaking Out
During Mizzou's current three-game win streak, it has been noted that the offense has sparked the turnaround. A few notable individuals have been key in that turnaround, most notably Blake Brown, Conner Mach, Eric Garcia and Dillon Everett. That foursome was hitting a combined .117 (10-of-85) heading into the last three games with nine runs, four RBI and just two-extra base hits. Over the last six games, those four batters are a combined .388 with 30 runs, 24 RBI and seven extra-base hits while slugging .505.

Sommerfeld Carries 10-Game Hit Streak
Heading into this week's series with North Dakota, Mizzou junior outfielder Scott Sommerfeld owns a 10-game hitting streak, the longest by a Tiger this season and the longest of his career. He is the first Tiger to tally a 10-game hitting streak since both Conner Mach (12) and Brannon Champagne (10) did so last season. In all, Sommerfeld has put together a good start early this season as he is second on the team with his .359 average.

Opel Second in Big 12 in Home Runs, First in Slugging
As good as Sommerfeld's bat has been this season, the bulk of the offensive production this season has come off the bat of junior outfielder Dane Opel. Heading into the North Dakota series, he ranks second in the Big 12 home runs (four), eighth in total bases (32) and is first overall in slugging (.800) and fifth in batting (.375). Of course, he leads the team in all of those categories as well.

Tiger Pitching Consistently Good
Heading into this week's series with North Dakota, the Mizzou pitching staff is one of just two Big 12 teams to not allow more than six runs in a game this season - Texas Tech is the other team. In fact, Mizzou has given up just 49 runs through 13 games this season, good for less than four per game (3.77). This is a marked improvement for a team that gave up more than six runs five times through its first 13 games a season ago.

Emens Third in the Big 12 in ERA
Heading into the series with North Dakota, senior Jeff Emens has arguably been the Tigers' most valuable arm out of the bullpen. In fact, he is tied for the team lead in appearances (seven) and leads all Tiger relievers with 15.0 innings pitched. In those 15.0 innings, he has compiled an ERA of just 1.20 while striking out 10 batters and walking just three. His 1.20 ERA is currently third in the Big 12 this season and is 2-0 on the season.

Walsh Leads the Big 12 in Saves
Redshirt sophomore Jake Walsh has been one of the biggest surprises on this year's Tiger pitching staff and one of the best stories on this year's team. So far this season, Walsh has compiled a Big 12-high five saves in seven appearances (he is 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season). In his seven appearances, he has lasted 8.0 innings, allowing just six hits while striking out seven against just one walk. He has surrendered one walk all year and juts one earned run as he leads the team in ERA at 1.12. Walsh was cut from last year's team before battling back this season and earning the closer job. He played club baseball last season.

Holovach Impresses
Junior lefty Blake Holovach impressed in his first start as a Tiger on March 4, fanning a career-best eight batters over 5.0 innings of work against Ball State. That performance has likely locked up the Sunday starting job for Holovach and he shined again last weekend against Charlotte. The lefty threw a career-best 6.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs and five hits while striking out four to earn his second win of the season. He is now tied for the team lead in that department.

Platts to Start First Career Game
Freshman Brandon Platts was slated to start over the weekend, but due to rain in the area, the game was cancelled, meaning that his first career start will come this week against North Dakota. After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the MLB Draft, Platts chose to come to Mizzou rather than sign with the Pirates. So far this season, he has pitched in two games, going 2.1 innings, allowing an earned run. This weekend will be his first real chance to showcase his stuff as a starter at Mizzou.

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 a 1.12 ERA through seven appearances with a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio while Miles has been equally as impressive with a 1.59 ERA and seven strikeouts in just 5.2 innings of work while allowing just one hit. Their combined line is 13.2 IP, two ER, seven hits and 14 Ks against just six walks. Combine that with classmate Brett Graves (1.93 ERA in 4.2 IP), the Tigers have three freshmen with ERAs under 2.00 at this point of the season.

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (107 of 111) 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) and Turner has started all 10 this season. Turner's 44 starts at catcher last season are the most since Trevor Coleman started 53 games in 2008.

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 as 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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Mizzou Network
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
The Tigers will return home this weekend to take on High Point in a three-game series at Taylor Stadium. The series will open at 6 p.m. on Friday (March 16) and resume Saturday at 2 p.m. The series finale will be played at noon on Sunday (March 18). For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.



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