Tigers Host High Point This Weekend

<i>Rob Zastryzny</i>

Rob Zastryzny

March 14, 2012

Mizzou (10-5) vs. High Point (12-7)
• Date: March 16-18
• 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. High Point Get Acrobat Reader

FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball program will put its eight-game winning streak on the line when the High Point Panthers come to Columbia, Mo., for a three-game that begins on Friday at 6 p.m. The series will resume Saturday at 2 p.m. before the teams play the series finale at noon on Sunday. This will mark the first-ever meeting between Mizzou and High Point.

Mizzou Win Streak • Heading into the series with High Point, Mizzou is riding a season-long eight-game winning streak, marking the Tigers' longest streak since they won 14 consecutive games in March of 2008. During that win streak in 2008, Mizzou ascended to as high as No. 2 in the natoional rankings as they opened the season 20-3 overall. Just as a parallel, Mizzou's longest win streak last season was six games.

Walsh Halfway to History Already • Redshirt sophomore lefty Jake Walsh is already halfway to the Mizzou single season record for saves with six this season after picking up a save on Tuesday against North Dakota. Ryan Stegall is the current Mizzou school record holder with 12 in 2000. Walsh is a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunites and leads the team in appearances with eight this season. His six saves so far are tops in the Big 12 as he has closed six of the Tigers' 10 victories.

Anderson to Miss Two Weeks • Mizzou Friday night starter Eric Anderson was lifted from his last start with pain in his elbow. As the team feared the worst, it got good news this week when an MRI revealed just a strained ligament, which will shelf Anderson for just two weeks. The team will give him rest for 10-14 days and hope to have him back in the weekend rotation for the Tigers'weekend series at Texas A&M.

Opel Ranked Among Conference Elite • Junior outfielder Dane Opel appears to be fully recovered from a shoulder injury that hampered him for much of last season as he has put together a very impressive start to the season. In fact, he leads the Big 12 in slugging (.800) and and is second in extra-base hits (nine), second in home runs (four), fourth in batting (.400) and eighth in OBP (.481).

Tigers Named Team of the Week by CBI
The Mizzou baseball team earned a prestigious honor this week as College Baseball Insider named Mizzou as its Central Region Team of the Week after it put together a 4-0 week. The Tigers' four wins on the week included a three-game series sweep of Charlotte, a team that ranked No. 41 in CBI's Top-50 Poll before the week started.

Opel Named to College Baseball360.com's Honor Roll
Mizzou junior outfielder Dane Opel was named to Collegebaseball360.com's Primetime Performer Weekly Honor Roll for his play last weekend in four Tiger wins, including a three-game sweep of Charlotte over the weekend at Taylor Stadium. The award program takes into account much more than statistics, it looks into factors such as clutch play, all around performance, and leadership. Opel's hit .462, had five RBI's, scored six runs, and had fifteen total bases on the week and had a huge series in a Tiger sweep over Charlotte, a team that ranked among CollegeBaseball360.com's. He is currently on an eight-game hit streak.

Champagne, Mach Tally Mizzou's First 5-RBI Game Since 2010
Tiger center fielder Brannon Champagne went 3-5 at the plate with five RBI in the Tigers' 10-7 win over North Dakota on Tuesday and Conner Mach went 3-5 with five RBI, marking the Tigers' best RBI total this season and the first five-RBI games since April 6, 2010, when Andreas Plackis drove in five against SIU-Edwardsville. The five RBI are a career-best for Champagne and for Mach.

Miles Earns First Win
Freshman righty and Columbia native John Miles picked up his first collegiate win in Mizzou's 10-7 victory over North Dakota on Tuesday. So far this season, Miles has been impressive, throwing 6.1 innings of one-run baseball and allowing just one hit in that span. He owns an ERA of 1.42, which is currently second on the team behind only closer Jake Walsh, who sits at 0.90 on the season.

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 .342 with an OBP of .457. In those six games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents, 87-32, while seven of the Tigers' nine regular position players are hitting .308 or better, highlighted by a .452 clip from Conner Mach and a .435 mark from Dane Opel.

More on the Offense
Mizzou scored 21 runs in its 21-5 win over North Dakota on March 14, marking the first time that a Tiger team has hit the 20-run mark since March, 30 2010, marking the first time since the switch to the new bats that the Tigers have accomplished that feat. Those 21 runs are the second-most by a Big 12 team this season. Of course, the 20-run mark on Tuesday also marks the fist time that Mizzou has tallied 20 runs since the NCAA switched to the new bats before last season.

Breaking Out
During Mizzou's current eight-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 eight games with nine runs, four RBI and just two-extra base hits. Over the last eight games, those four batters are a combined .383 with 42 runs, 39 RBI and 12 extra-base hits ( four HRs) while slugging .558.

Opel Second in Big 12 in Home Runs, First in Slugging
The bulk of the Tigers' offensive production this season has come off the bat of junior outfielder Dane Opel. Heading into the High Point series, he ranks second in the Big 12 home runs (four), eighth in total bases (36) and is first overall in slugging (.800) and fifth in batting (.400). 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 has given up more than six runs just once this season, and that came on Tuesday against North Dakota. Previously, Mizzou was one of just two teams in the Big 12 to not give up more than six in a game. In fact, Mizzou has given up just 61 runs through 15 games this season, good for less just 4.07 per game. This is a marked improvement for a team that gave up an average of 6.60 runs per game through the first 15 contests a season ago and was outscored, 99-74.

Emens Fifth 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 (eight) and leads all Tiger relievers with 18.1 innings pitched. In those 18.1 innings, he has compiled an ERA of just 1.47 while striking out 13 batters and walking just three. His 1.47 ERA is currently fifth in the Big 12 this season and is 2-0 on the 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 Sunday
Freshman Brandon Platts is set to start his second career game on Sunday against High Point. The freshman was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of last year's MLB Draft and will fill the weekend rotation spot left following the injury to Eric Anderson. Platts started his first career game on Wednesday against High Point and looked good through the first 2.0 innings until running into trouble in the third, allowing four earned runs. In all, Platts owns an ERA of 9.00 in three appearances this season, spanning 5.0 innings of work.

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (116 of 129) 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 Field 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.

Mizzou will be back in action on March 21 against Indiana State for a 3 p.m. game. The Tigers will then open Big 12 play next weekend with Oklahoma State on March 23. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.



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