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First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will continue its nearly month-long homestand this weekend as it welcomes the Central Michigan Chippewas to Taylor Stadium for a four-game series, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. The two teams will then play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. before playing in the series finale on Sunday at noon.
Streaking The Tigers are currently riding a season-best three-game win streak after taking the final three games of their series with Le Moyne last weekend. In all, Mizzou has won four of its last seven games and five of its last eight as it prepares to face Central Michigan this weekend.
Series History Mizzou leads the all-time series with Central Michigan, 4-1, with the last meeting between the two squads coming back in 1983, a 9-1 win for the Tigers. Mizzou's only loss to the Chippewas came back in 1978, a 5-1 win for CMU. The first meeting between the two teams came that year as well as Mizzou topped CMU, 7-4, in that meeting.
Playing Small Ball The Tiger offense this season seems to be based around its speedy batters at the top of the order. In fact, Mizzou used a record-setting weekend on the base paths to run past Le Moyne last weekend as it stole 22 bases on 23 attempts in the four games. In Saturday's doubleheader, Mizzou stole eight bases in each game (16 total on the day) while Conner Mach tied the school record with four steals in the first game. His four steals were the most by a Tiger in a single game since 1956. The steals are a big reason why Mizzou scored 26 runs on 37 hits last weekend. Mizzou now leads the Big 12 in stolen bases with 39 this season
Iron Man Senior reliever Phil McCormick is still on pace to break his own school record for appearances in a single season (36) as he has appeared in 11 of the Tigers' 16 games (69-percent). That puts him on pace to appear in 41 games this season. He is tied for the team lead in strikeouts (18) and has pitched in 15.2 innings this season. His 3.54 ERA is second on the team among relivers as well.
Tigers Are Streaking
Mizzou has used small ball and plenty of success on the base paths over the last few games to put together its best winning streak of the season at three-straight games. Mizzou defeated Le Moyne in the final three games of last weekend's series to pull its overall record to 7-9 as it welcomes Central Michigan to Taylor Stadium this weekend. Mizzou has won four of its last six games and five of its last eight heading into the weekend.
McCormick Continues as Mizzou Iron Man
There have been few relievers in the Big 12 that have been more reliable than the Tigers' Phil McCormick over the past two seasons. In fact, the lefty appeared in a school-record 36 games last season and is on pace to shatter that mark in 2011. In fact, he has pitched in 11 games already this season and his 15.2 innings pitched are tops on the team among relievers. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 18 and is holding opponents to a .220 average this season. McCormick is on pace to appear in 41 games for the Tigers this season and his 11 appearances are tops among Big 12 pitchers so far this season. Teammate Dusty Ross ranks just behind McCormick in the Big 12 ranks as he is second with 10 appearances this season.
Emens Continues to Lead Team in ERA
Through the first 16 games this season, junior reliever Jeff Emens continues to lead the team in ERA with his 1.84 clip in four appearances. He has given up just three earned runs in 14.2 innings of work this season. Last Week, Emens threw 7.0 innings and gave up just one earned run while striking out six batters. He had one of his best outings of the season last Wednesday against Gonzaga. In relief of starter Brad Buehler, Emens came on and threw 3.2 innings, allowing just one earned run while striking out three. The righty came into the season with an ERA north of 4.00, so his work this season has been a pleasant surprise as he has been one of the more consistent arms out of the pen.
More on the Bullpen
Staying on the topic of relievers, the Tiger bullpen has been a strength over the past seven games. In fact, the `pen has combined to throw 26.2 innings over the past seven games and has allowed just five earned runs in that span, giving the Tiger relievers a 1.71 ERA in the last seven contests. In all last week in Mizzou's six game, the bullpen gave up just four earned runs. In Mizzou's first nine games of the season, the bullpen surrendered 34 earned runs in just 32.1 innings of work (9.53 ERA). Since that time, the bullpen has been a strength and the pitching staff has seen its combined ERA shrink from 6.96 through the first nine games to just 2.43 over the last seven and the bullpen is a key reason for that.
Breakout Season for Hardoin
Senior lefty Zack Hardoin had one of the best weeks of his career in a pair of starts against Gonzaga and Le Moyne last week. He earned a pair of wins while throwing in 11.2 innings and allowing just one earned run, good for a 0.77 ERA on the week. He also boasted a WHIP of 1.03 on the week and struck out a career-high eight batters in Sunday's start against Le Moyne. Batters hit just .132 off of him last week and he now ranks fifth overall in the Big 12 in opponent batting average this season with a .175 clip.
Zastryzny Emerges as Top Starter
Freshman southpaw Rob Zastryzny has emerged as the Tigers' top starter so far this season and he earned his first Friday start against Le Moyne last weekend. Zastryzny fired 7.1 innings in the start and struck out a career-best eight batters in the game. But he could not get the win as the Tiger bats gave him just three runs of support in the game. In all, Zastryzny's 3.47 ERA is tops among Tiger starters this season and third on the team. He leads the team in innings pitched (23.1), strikeouts (18), is second in opponent batting average (.220) and is third on the team in WHIP (1.37). Only Zach Hardoin has given up less earned runs than Zastryzny among starters.
Tigers Fan 40 Batters In Le Moyne Series
Staying on the topic of Tiger pitchers, the staff combined to strike out 40 Le Moyne batters in last weekend's series (averaging 10 per game), including a season-high 14 in the 10-1 win on Sunday. Zack Hardoin and Rob Zastryzny tied for the team lead last weekend with eight each, new career-highs for both pitchers. Starters Matt Stites and Jeff Scardino each tallied five as well as the four starters combined for 26 of the 40 strikeouts on the weekend. Keep in mind that those 40 strikeouts came in just 36.0 innings pitched, averaging more than one per inning.
Grand Theft Base
Mizzou had quite a week on the base paths last week, stealing 26 bases on 27 attempts in six games against Gonzaga and Le Moyne. The Tigers were 22 of 23 in that department in the Le Moyne series including stealing eight bags in both games of the doubleheader last Saturday. Prior to Saturday, Mizzou had not stolen eight bases in a game since Feb. 25, 2007, when they tallied eight steals against Navy. The eight steals are just two off of the school record, which was set in 1956.
Mach Ties School Record
Although Mizzou as a team didn't quite get to the record for steals in a single game, senior infielder Conner Mach did match the school record with his four steals in the first game of the Le Moyne doubleheader last Saturday. He was perfect on four attempts and was the first Tiger to steal four bags in a single game since 1956. Six of Mach's seven steals this season have come during the Tigers' current homestand.
More on Steals
After the impressive performance on the base paths last weekend, Mizzou now leads the Big 12 Conference in stolen bases with 39 this season. Also, several individuals rank among the league leaders in stolen bases as both Blake Brown and Brannon Champagne are tied for fourth with eight apiece while Conner Mach is eighth overall with seven. Baylor's Brooks Pinckard leads the league with 16 steals in 17 games this season. Mizzou is the only team to have three different players rank in the league's top 10 in the stolen base department.
Schmidt Anchors Tiger Lineup
Senior right fielder Jonah Schmidt continues to be the primary run producer for the Tigers this season as he leads the team with 12 RBI, a .474 slugging percentage and 27 total bases. Last week, Schmidt tallied five hits and drove in a team-best six runs and tallied his second homerun of the season. He ranks in the team's top two in six different offensive categories and has been the Tigers' top hitter in the middle of the lineup this season. He is also tied with Conner Mach for the team lead in plate appearances with 57.
Mizzou sophomore catcher Ben Turner has been playing very well as of late. He has emerged as the Tigers' top offensive weapon behind the plate this season as he leads the team with a .444 average as he has 12 hits in 27 at-bats in 201. He also boasts an OBP of .571 as he has drawn seven walks and been hit by a pitch this season. He has started six of the last eight games at catcher and has been one of the Tigers' hottest hitters as of late. In fact, he had three multi-hit games last week, including a three-hit game against Le Moyne in the series finale. He has scored four runs and driven in four more this season.
Breakout Season For Champagne
Sophomore center fielder Brannon Champagne is enjoying a breakout season in his first year as a starter in 2011. He has started 15 of 16 games and leads the team in hits (19), runs (14), OBP (.500), stolen bases (eight) and is second in total bases (22) and walks (10). His .358 average is also a team-best and ranks him 11th in the Big 12 this season. He is also tied for the team lead with six multi-hit games in 2011.
Aside from that, his .500 OBP has him ranked fifth in the Big 12 and he is tied for fourth in the league with eight stolen bases. He has hit leadoff in 10 different games for the Tigers this season and has been a spark plug for the Tiger offense all season long.
Garcia's Bat Comes to Life
After struggling through the Tigers' first seven road games, sophomore infielder Eric Garcia has been on a tear since returning to Columbia for the current homestand. In fact, over the nine games of the homestand Garcia is hitting is hitting .381 with eight hits in 21 at bats and has scored four runs while driving in two more. He tallied his first extra-base hit of the season against Le Moyne, lacing a triple to right field. He is also a perfect 5-5 in the stolen base department during the homestand. The numbers are a vast in increase from his first seven games when he tallied just two hits in 23 at bats.
Santo Moves to Short
During the Tigers' nine-game homestand, infielder Jesse Santo has made the switch from the hot corner to short stop and he has played pretty well in the span. In fact, he has committed just one error at short and boasts a .976 fielding percentage at one of the most difficult positions on the field.
He has also continued to swing a hot bat amidst the switch. In fact, since the change he has five multi-hit games and is hitting .294 with five RBI and four runs. He has also tallied 11 total bases and stolen a pair of bags during that span.
Tigers to Play in Two Major League Stadiums
The Tigers have two games scheduled in two Major League stadiums during the 2011 season. Once again, Mizzou will play in both of the MLB stadiums in Missouri, starting with a March 29 contest against Illinois at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. One week later, Mizzou will face Kansas in a non-conference game at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals on April 6. This will mark the third-straight year that Missouri has played at Busch Stadium and the fourth year that Mizzou and Kansas will meet at Kauffman Stadium.
Milestone for Jamieson
Head coach Tim Jamieson earned his 550th career win last Saturday when the Tigers topped the Le Moyne Dolphins, 4-2, in the second game of a doubleheader at Taylor Stadium. He is second on the all-time coaching list at Mizzou behind only Tiger legend Gene McArtor (733 wins). Jamieson has not had a losing season at Mizzou since 2002, one of only two during his 16 years at Mizzou.
Jamieson to Lead Team USA
Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson will lead the 2011 Collegiate National Team, as announced by USA Baseball back in November. He will be joined by pitching coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) and assistant coaches Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) and Scott Stricklin (Kent State).
Jamieson and Walton made their Team USA debuts together on the 2005 Collegiate National Team coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach and the pitching coach, respectively, for manager Steve Smith of Baylor. Van Horn and Stricklin will both be wearing the red, white and blue for the first time.
"We are thrilled to announce Tim Jamieson as our 2011 manager," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball General Manager of National Teams. "His experience from 2005 -- coaching players like David Price, Matt Wieters and Matt LaPorta -- will serve him well, and teaming him with Dave Van Horn, Scott Stricklin and Rob Walton will provide our athletes with a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best college coaches in the game. Once again, the college coaching community has rallied around the Collegiate National Team program."
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 48 players sign professional contracts and 57 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. Kinsler has been one of the most underrated players in the MLB over the past several seasons and maybe had his best year in 2009, slugging 31 home runs while driving in 86 runs and swiping 31 bags, doing so in just 144 games. Scherzer went 12-11 last year with a 3.50 ERA and 184 strikeouts in 195.2 innings pitched. Those two along with the likes of Kyle Gibson and Aaron Crow - who are both seeing success in the minor leagues - should likely give Mizzou a presence in the major leagues for years to come.
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 21st season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mence, who is in his first year as part of the MU broadcast team.
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2011 is available at mutigers.com as part of Mizzou All-Access. All-Access is the Tiger fans home to 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.
The Tigers will host Central Arkansas for a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday before welcoming Oklahoma to Taylor Stadium for the first Big 12 Conference series next weekend. The midweek games with the Bears will be played on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 4 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.