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Baseball Opens SEC Play With No. 5 Gamecocks This Weekend

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MUTIGERS.COM

March 14, 2013

Series: Mizzou (5-7) vs. #5 South Carolina (15-2)
When March 15-17, 2013 | 6 p.m., 2 p.m., 1 p.m.
Location Columbia, Mo. | Taylor Stadium
Tickets Purchase Here
TV NONE
Radio KTGR - 103.1 FM, 100.5 FM, 1580 AM
Online Coverage Listen | GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT- Sunday | Watch Live (Fee)
Printable Game Notes Missouri | South Carolina
Season Stats MissouriSouth Carolina
Series History First Meeting - Mizzou 72-78-1 All-Time vs. SEC
Streak Mizzou Has Won 2 of last 4 vs. SEC
Last Meeting Lost 2 vs. SEC
Social Media @MUTigerBaseball, @MUTigersOnDeck  | Mizzou Network 

FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball program will have a historic weekend at Taylor Stadium as it plays its inaugural SEC series against national power No. 5 South Carolina in a three-game set from March 15-17 on Simmons Field. Game one of the series will be Friday night (March 15) at 6 p.m. The middle game will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday (March 16) and the finale will be contested at 1 p.m. Sunday (March 17).

Series History • Despite both having storied program histories, Mizzou and South Carolina have never met. However, with this being Mizzou's inaugural SEC series, the Tigers have an all-time record of 38-36-1 against the 12 teams that comprised the SEC last season. If you add Texas A&M into that mix, a team that Mizzou is very familiar with after their days in the Big 12, Mizzou is 72-78-1 against SEC teams.

Home Sweet Taylor • Mizzou returned to Taylor Stadium over the last two weeks and got some much-needed wins, going 5-1 in those six games. It was easily the Tigers' best two weeks of the season after opening 0-6 as the Tigers seemed to turn things around in nearly every notable stat category. Below are a few notables for the Tigers at home this season.

    Notables at Taylor Stadium
    • Mizzou has hit .297 as a team at home, up from its .190 clip through the first six games.
    • The Tigers have tallied 34 RBI at home this season. They had just eight in the first six games combined.
    • Every Tiger with at least 12 at-bats in the homestand has at least five hits.
    • After striking out 9.1 times per game in the first six, Mizzou struck out just 30 times at home (5.00/game).
    • Mizzou has committed just seven errors at home, a vast improvement from their 12 in the first six games.
    • The pitching staff has a 2.16 ERA at home, considerably lower than the 5.25 mark in the first six games.
    • Mizzou starters have just a 1.08 ERA at home, allowing just four earned runs in 33.1 innings pitched.
    • Mizzou pitching has a 1.22 WHIP at home, down from a 1.56 mark over the first six games.
    Case Munson and Scott Sommerfeld have hit a combined 14-of-28 at home. They hit .033 in the first six.

Last Time Out
The Tigers earned a 9-3 win over Jackson State on Tuesday before coming back and defeating Truman State, 14-4, on Wednesday. The two wins during the week push Mizzou's record to 5-1 at home this season with its only loss coming in the Saturday game vs. San Francisco. Mizzou got a big week from several players, including senior Scott Sommerfeld and sophomore Case Munson. Sommerfeld and Munson combined to hit .500 (6-for-12) with four RBI and four runs scored. 11 Tigers tallied hits in the two games while eight of those 11 had multiple hits.

Dillon Everett Returns From Broken Hand
During the Tigers' midweek games against Jackson State and Truman State, the Tigers got a boost as junior infielder Dillon Everett returned to the lineup after suffering a broken hand in the Tigers' season-opener against Southern Miss. Everett started at shortstop in both games and played great defense while going 2-for-8 at the dish. Everett's return is key for the Tigers as he is probably the best defensive infielder for Mizzou.

Rash Dazzles in Start
Tuesday marked the first career start for freshman righty Alec Rash and he lived up to the billing in a dominating performance against Jackson State. Rash fanned a career-high seven batters over 4.0 innings, scattering just one hit and walking just one. He allowed an unearned run after a three-base error and a wild pitch allowed JSU to plate a run. He leads the team in opponent batting average (.061) and has allowed the fewest hits per innings pitched on the team this season.

    Notables on Rash
    • Leads the team in ERA (0.00), WHIP (0.30) and opponent batting average (.061).
    • Averages 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, best on the team.
    • Has allowed just two hits all season in 9.2 innings pitched.
    • Rash also leads the team in BABIP at .095, the only Tiger under .100 in that category.
Starters Continue to Impress
The Tiger starting pitchers have been the highlight of the season so far in 2013. In fact, in 12 games, the Tigers own a 2.46 ERA and that mark was a miniscule 1.08 in the last six games (all home contests). Below are notables on the Tiger starting pitching this season.
    Notbales on Starters
    • Mizzou starters have allowed just two earned runs or less in nine of 12 starts this season.
    • Four of those nine outings have been shutout starts as well.
    • A Mizzou starter has not allowed more than two ERs in seven straight starts, dating back to Feb. 23.
    • Mizzou starters have combined to throw 62.1 innings this season, nearly 63-percent of Mizzou's innings.
    • Starters have combined to throw 48 of the team's 80 strikeouts, highlighted by 17 from Rob Zastryzny.
    Jace James has yet to allow a run in two starts this season, allowing just four hits in his two starts.
    • At home this season, Mizzou starters own a 1.08 ERA and own an 30/10 strikeout/walk ratio.
James Shines As Starter
As mentioned above, the starting rotation has been nothing short of sensational for Mizzou this season and a big reason why is junior college transfer Jace James. In his two starts, James has allowed just four hits over 11.0 innings pitched while striking out six and walking just three. He is coming off of a career-best outing against Eastern Michigan in which he threw 6.0 innings of one-hit baseball (a bloop single to boot) while striking out five. The five strikeouts and 6.0 innings pitched in that game are both Division I career-bests for James.
    Notbales on James
    • James is tied for the SEC lead in ERA (0.00) in 11.0 innings pitched this season.
    • James is limiting opposing batters to just a .136 average, fourth-best in the SEC.
    • He has allowed six hits this season, second-best in the SEC, trailing only Arkansas' Conner Kendrick (four).
    • James has not allowed an earned run in 13.0 straight innings.
    • His 13-inning shutout streak is the longest for Mizzou since Blake Holovach tossed 25 straight last year.

Kelly on Fire
Catcher Dylan Kelly has been the Tigers' top hitter all season long and is currently riding a streak in which he has reached base safely in nine straight games. At .424 this season, Kelly ranks sixth in the SEC in batting and is the second-best batting catcher in the SEC, trailing only Ole Miss' Stuart Turner (.492), who leads the SEC in batting. Below are a few notables on Kelly so far this season.
    Notables on Kelly
    • Leads the team in batting (.424) , slugging (.455), OBP (.500), and OPS (.955).
    • Second-best hitting catcher in the SEC, trailing only Ole Miss's Stuart Turner, and sixth overall.
    • Second on the team in two-out RBIs (three) and is the Tigers' top hitter with two strikes: 7-for-18 (.388).
    • Is second on the team in runs scored and total bases.
    • Is perfect in the field with 55 put outs, 10 assists and no errors while throwing out two base stealers.
    • Is hitting .438 at home this season with four runs and five RBI. • Has dominated right-handed pitching this season, hitting .476 in 21 at-bats.
    • Has reached base safely in nine straight games, a season-long for the Tigers.
Sommerfeld, Munson Turn It Around
Through the first six games, two Tiger batters who had high expectations this season - Scott Sommerfeld and Case Munson - were struggling. In fact, through the first six games Sommerfeld and Munson were a combined 1-for-30, checking in at .033 combined for the season. But a return to Taylor Stadium may have been just what each needed. In fact, the duo has combined to go 14-for-28 with seven runs scored and seven RBI with three doubles at home this season. The duo ranks 1-2 in team batting at home and has reached base in 23 of their 35 plate appearances over the six home games. Sommerfeld is currently riding a six-game hit streak while Munson has a four-game streak. Below are the lines for each last week in the Tigers' six home games.
    Noting Sommerfeld and Munson at Home
    • Sommerfeld - .467 (7-for-15), 3 run, six RBI, 1 double, .533 slugging, .600 OPB, 1.133 OPS
    • Munson - .538 (7-for-13), 4 runs, one RBI, 2 doubles, .692 slugging, .625 OBP, 1.317 OPS
Rob Z Dazzles in Friday Night Gem
After a pair of rough starts (by his standards) to open the season, Mizzou junior lefty Rob Zastryzny returned to form last Friday, dominating San Francisco for his first win of the season. He went 9.0 innings, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out 10 against just one walk. It was a very noteworthy start for the Tiger lefty, so the notables are below.
    Notes on Zastryzny's Start Last Friday
    • First complete game since April 27, 2012, at Texas Tech.
    •The Tigers' first 10-strikeout performance since March 23 last season (Zastryzny, 12 vs. Oklahoma State).
    • After allowing three doubles and two runs in the first, he retired 20 of the next 24 batters, fanning eight.
    • He allowed just three hits and a walk over the final eight innings of the start and retired 10 of the last 11.
    • His complete game was just the fifth by an SEC pitcher this season.
Keeton Continues to Impress
Despite not figuring into the mix in the Tiger infield during preseason camp, injuries to Dillon Everett and Shane Segovia have led to increased playing time for Kendall Keeton and the Columbia, Tenn., native has taken advantage of that opportunity. In fact, through the first 12 games, he has been one of the Tigers' top hitters checking in at .295 overall with a team-high three doubles and 16 total bases. His 13 hits are a team-best. As Everett and Segovia continue to heal, when they return it is going to be tough to take Keeton's bat out of the Tiger lineup.

Opel Getting On Base
Coming into the season, there were big expectations for senior Dane Opel, who became the first Tiger ever to lead the Big 12 in home runs during the regular season in 2012. Teams have showed him a lot of respect so far this season as he has earned 10 free passes (five walks, five hit-by-pitch) in the first 12 games. In fact, his 10 free bases coupled with his .306 average so far give him a .447 on-base percentage, second on the team. Opel's career-high for OBP in a season is just .386 as a freshman in 2010, so the .447 clip so far this season is a refreshing sign for the Tigers.

Bats Continue to Produce At Home
After hitting just .190 in the first six games (all on the road), Mizzou is hitting .297 as a team at home and has driven in 34 runs; Mizzou had just eight RBI in the first six games. Every Tiger with at least 12 at-bats at home has at least five hits and seven batter are hitting above .300. The Tigers have hit eight at home, three more than their total from the first six games of the season as well.

Great Debut For Keeton
Junior college transfer Kendall Keeton had quite the debut as a Tiger in Mizzou's season-opener at Southern Miss, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances while going 3-for-3 with a run and RBI while drawing a walk. In fact, Keeton is the first Tiger since Aaron Senne in 2007 to reach base in each of his plate appearances in a season opener.

James Makes History
Sophomore junior college transfer Jace James had a strong debut for the Tigers on Sunday at Southern Miss, as he threw 5.0 innings of shutout baseball, scattering just three hits and walking none as he kept a very good Southern Miss batting order in check in his first collegiate Division I outing. He is the first Mizzou opening-weekend starter since former Tiger Kyle Gibson in 2009 to allow no earned runs in an opening-weekend start. Gibson threw 6.0 innings of three hit baseball, allowing no earned runs in the 2009 season-opener against Nevada. Remember, James' start came on the road against a top-25 team as well.

Steele Also Impresses In Second Division I Appearance
After being roughed up in his first pitching appearance, junior college transfer Keaton Steele showed why he is one of the best two-way players in the SEC last Wednesday in a start against Eastern Michigan. In fact, Steele allowed just two Eagle hits over 5.0 shutout innings while striking out three to earn his first Division I win. Steele pitched two innings against Jackson State, striking out four while allowing two hits, no runs and no walks. Steele came into the season as the Tigers' closer, but looks primed to compete for the Sunday starter position at this part of the season.

A New Era Begins
2013 marks the beginning of a new era for the Mizzou baseball program as it embarks upon its inaugural season as members of the Southeastern Conference. Widely considered as the premier conference in all of college baseball, Mizzou has fared well against SEC competition in the past, boasting an all-time record of 38-36-1 against the 12 schools that both Mizzou and Texas A&M will join this season. Mizzou played two series against SEC teams last year, taking two of three at Auburn while being swept at Arkansas in a two-game midweek series. As another note, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson is the only current SEC coach to win at least 600 games at his current school.

Recruiting Class Garners National Praise
the Mizzou baseball team transitions to the SEC this season, it will be bolstered by a 2012 recruiting that ranks 24th nationally according to Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com. The Tigers ranked one spot ahead of defending NCAA National Champion Arizona, the same team that eliminated Mizzou from the NCAA Tournament last year. The class, put together by the Mizzou coaching staff includes 19 student-athletes.

Rash Turns Down Big Money For Mizzou
One of the key contributors to the Tigers' recruiting class garnering national attention was the addition of Iowa-native Alec Rash. A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, Rash was the highest-drafted high school player to elect to go to school instead of beginning a major league career. While it is unknown what role Rash may fill this season, his power arm will be a welcome addition to Mizzou's pitching arsenal.

Little League World Series Connection
When Josh Lester and Ryan Phillips committed to play baseball at Mizzou, they were unaware that they had a unique connection. In fact, both players played in the 2006 Little League World Series and Lester's team won the tournament. Lester and Phillips never met in the series as the two were in different pools, but both remember watching the other play. Lester's team that won the Little League World Series kept that core group of players intact and went on to win three Georgia State Championships while they were in high school.

Ian Kinsler Inducted into Mizzou Hall of Fame
Former Mizzou standout Ian Kinsler was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in February. Although he played only one season at Mizzou, Tiger Head Coach Tim Jamieson credits him with being a key figure in helping turn the program around, as he was instrumental in leading Mizzou back to the NCAA Tournament in 2003, after a six-year drought. That 2003 NCAA appearance started a string of seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the Tiger program. After transferring to Mizzou from Arizona State and junior college, Kinsler batted .335 for Mizzou in 2003, and was third on the team with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also went 16-of-17 in stolen bases during the season, and was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 for his efforts.

Of course, most people know Kinsler for his outstanding professional baseball career. After being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003, Kinsler made the big league squad in 2006, and promptly won the Rangers' Rookie of the Year award for hitting .286 with 14 homers and 55 RBI. He has since made three American League All-Star teams (2008, 2010, 2012), and hit a career-best .319 in 2008, while he followed that with a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBI in 2009.

Jamieson Signs Extension
The Mizzou Department of the Athletics and Athletics Director Mike Alden announced back in September that a two-year contract extension for Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson had been reached. The two-year deal will keep Jamieson, who is the school's longest current-tenured head coach, at Mizzou through the 2015 season.

"We're so pleased with the job Coach Jamieson is doing with our program" director of athletics Mike Alden said. "Coming off of the Big 12 Championship, we are looking forward to the challenges ahead in the SEC. Tim, his staff and our students are a tremendous reflection of the core values of the University of Missouri."

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 and Aaron Crow of the Royals.

Francis Howell Connection
For sophomores Brett Graves, Jake Ivory and Case Munson, the 2013 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. All three will be expected to play a much bigger role this season.

Georgia on My Mind
With the Tigers moving to the SEC this season, three Tigers grew up in the heart of SEC country and chose to play their collegiate ball at Mizzou. Mike McGraw (Newnan, Ga.), Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) and Dylan Kelly (Roswell, Ga.) all call the Empire State their home.

Join Tigers on Deck
As the 2013 Mizzou baseball season inches closer, Mizzou students are reminded to join the official Mizzou baseball student section: Tigers on Deck. Mizzou students already receive free admission to every Mizzou baseball game with a student ID, but members of Tigers on Deck will be the beneficiaries of a variety of Mizzou baseball perks, including free pregame tailgates and other great promotions throughout the season, listed below. To join, e-mail MUTigersOnDeck@yahoo.com.

Buy Baseball Season Tickets
As the Mizzou baseball program prepares for its inaugural season as members of the nation's premier baseball league, the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers on counting on the support from Mizzou Nation this year. Season tickets for the 2013 Mizzou campaign are still available to the public, and the first 500 fans to purchase season tickets will receive a free Mizzou baseball hat. At just $60 for adults and $30 for youth, Mizzou baseball season tickets are one of the most affordable packages in the SEC and give fans a chance to see every game at Taylor Stadium for just $2 per contest. A family pass (two adults/two children) is also on sale for just $150.

Tigers Televised Four Times Through SEC Deal
With the Mizzou baseball program entering its inaugural season as a member of the Southeastern Conference, the program will see four of its games televised to a national audience as part of the SEC's television deal, which is widely accepted as the nation's premier college baseball television package. The Tigers will appear on ESPNU twice while appearing on the SEC Network through Fox Sports for two additional games. Mizzou's only home game as part of the SEC television deal will be on Saturday, March 30, when No. 10 LSU visits Taylor Stadium for a 1 p.m. tilt.

    Televised SEC Games
    • March 30 vs. No. 10 LSU - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
    • April 6 at Georgia - 7 p.m. - ESPNU
    • April 13 at No. 2 Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. - ESPNU
    • May 11 at Alabama - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
Additionally, Mizzou's regular season finale against No. 11 Kentucky has been picked up to air live on the Mizzou Sports Network. That game will air live statewide on Fox Sports Midwest.

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 103.1-FM, 100.5-FM and 1580-AM. The games can also be heard online at KTGR.com. Tex Little is in his 23rd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his third year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Mizzou Network
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2013 is available at mutigers.tv as part of the Mizzou Network. Mizzou Network is the Tiger fans home for live and archived games, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and more. For more information, visit mutigers.tv and click on the Mizzou Network icon.

Up Next
Mizzou will close out its season-long homestand with Arkansas State next Tuesday (March 19) and Wednesday (March 20) at Taylor Stadium before hitting the road for a three-game series with Tennessee from March 22-24. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.