Swinging at Swayze: Tiger Baseball Heads to No. 14 Ole Miss



March 19, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (11-9) at #14 Ole Miss (18-4)
When   Friday - 6:30 p.m. | Saturday - 1:30 p.m. | Sunday - 1:30 p.m.
Location Oxford, Miss.| Oxford-University/Swayze Field
Tickets Click Here
TV None
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT - Sunday
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | Ole Miss
Series History Mizzou leads, 5-4
Last Meeting Ole Miss won, 9-6, in 2008
Streak Ole Miss - Won 1
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

After a 10-game homestand in which Mizzou went 7-3, the baseball Tigers will return to the road this weekend as they resume SEC play with a three-game series against Ole Miss at Oxford-University/Swayze Field. Game one of the three-game set will be Friday (March 21) at 6:30 p.m. as Brett Graves (3-1, 1.30 ERA) will take on Chris Ellis (3-0, 0.82 ERA). Both the Saturday and Sunday contests will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Of course, this is the first meeting between Mizzou and Ole Miss as members of the SEC, but the two are familiar foes. In fact, the two teams played twice in the 2008 NCAA Coral Gables Regional, splitting a pair of meetings. Mizzou future first rounder Aaron Crow tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout in a 7-0 victory in game one of that Regional. The Tigers tagged current St. Louis Cardinals starter Lance Lynn for six earned runs over 6.1 IP in that game. However, Ole Miss got the best of Mizzou two games later, ending the Tigers' season with a 9-6 win despite the Tigers owning a 6-5 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. Coincidentally, Mizzou was then sent to the Oxford, Miss., NCAA Regional the next year in 2009.

The Tigers are coming off of a homestand that saw the team hit .279 and post a staff ERA of 2.50 in 10 games, posting a 7-3 overall record. Mizzou has won eight of its last 11 games entering the weekend.

The Tigers took both games in a midweek series from Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tigers won the first game, 7-5, before winning the finale on Wednesday, 4-3. For the week, freshman infielder Ryan Howard led the offense with a .429 batting average and two RBI. He belted his first career homer on Tuesday as well. Eric Anderson continued to swing his hot bat, going 3-for-8 in the series with four runs scored from the leadoff spot.

The No. 14 Rebels of Ole Miss come into this week dropping a hard fought weekend series at #2 South Carolina, winning Friday night 6-4 but falling in extras the first game of a Saturday doubleheader, eventually losing the second game as well. The Rebels then rebounded to defeat Arkansas State on Wednesday. Ole Miss (18-4) has shown great consistency from the plate batting .313 as a team, and holding opponents to a .217 batting average. The bats are led by Auston Bousfield who hoists a .387 avg. Six of the Rebel batters hold averages over .300and show great power with 14 home runs through 22 games. Chris Ellis has been the leader of this pitching staff. Ellis (3-0) holds a 0.82 era for the season with one complete game shutout over 33.0 innings pitched. The Rebels as a staff have developed a 2.04 era so far this season.

The last time Mizzou took on the Rebels was June 1, 2008, in Coral Gables, Fl., in an NCAA Regional. The game came down to wire as Ole Miss prevailed with a 9-6 victory over the No. 12 Tigers. Mizzou took a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth when Tiger pitcher Kyle Gibson relieved Ryan Allen. The Rebels then rallied to load the bases, bringing up Logan Power (2008 25th round draft pick by the San Diego Padres) who smashed a grand slam giving Ole Miss a 9-6 lead. The Tigers were then shut down with three strike outs in the ninth by Scott Bittle (2009 4th round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals).

Mizzou is 8-3 over its last 11 games and a big reason why has been the performance of the Tiger pitching staff. In fact, the Tigers have a staff ERA of 2.27 and a WHIP of just 1.14 as they have dominated the competition. In that span, the Tiger hurlers have struck out 76 against just 17 walks and own a miniscule 1.55 walks per nine inning average. In the last 11 games, the Tiger pitchers have allowed just 19 extra-base hits and limited batters to a .244 batting average.

Under the direction of pitching coach Matt Hobbs, the Tiger hurlers have done a great job limiting walks this season. In fact, the Tigers lead the SEC in walks allowed with just 36, three ahead of second-place LSU which has 39. Mizzou and LSU are the only teams in the conference to walk less than 40 batters this season and they are also the only two pitching staffs averaging less than 2.00 walks per nine innings, both ranking top-five nationally.

Mizzou freshman infielder Ryan Howard has been on an absolute tear in his last six games. In fact, the Tiger infielder has hit .500 (9-for18) with two runs and a team-high seven RBI in that span. He is also slugging a team-best .833 in that span with three doubles and his first collegiate homer, a solo shot Tuesday against Milwaukee. He has reached base in 13 of his last 22 at-bats as he owns a team-best OBP of .591 over his last six games. He has hit safely in each of his last six games.

Another key to the Tigers' success over the last 11 games has been the emergence of a leadoff hitter as fifth-year senior Eric Anderson has been very good at the top of the order. He became the first player under Tim Jamieson to hit in the leadoff spot while starting a game on the mound as well, doing so in his last two pitching starts. In his last 11 games Anderson is hitting .357 with an OBP of .420. He has scored a team-high 12 runs and driven in five more in that span. He also hit his first Division I homer against Alcorn State and has reached base safely in 13 straight and owns a hitting streak of five games.

Junior righty Brett Graves has put together as impressive of a four-game streak as there is in the country this season in his last four starts. He has owned some impressive streaks this season, going 16.1 shutout innings and 30.2 without an extra-base hit. He has went at least 70 innings in his last four starts and owns an ERA of 0.90 in 30.0 IP over those four starts. He is limiting batters to a .157 average in that span and has struck out 24 against just three walks (8:1 ratio). He has allowed just three earned runs in that span, going 3-0 with a 0.70 WHIP.

He has allowed just 21 baserunners in his last four starts and given up just two extra-base hits, both of which came last Friday against Tennessee. He has won his last three starts and is the first Tiger to win three consecuitve starts since Blake Holovach won five straight starts in 2012.

- 3rd - IP - 34.2
- 6th - 2B allowed - 2
- 11th - OPP BA - .168
- 11th - Ks - 27
-12th - IP/G - 7.0
- 13th - BB allowed - 5
- 13th - R allowed - 4
- 15th - ERA - 1.30

Tiger righty Keaton Steele has emerged as the team's closer, giving them a true closer for the first time in several seasons. He already has five saves this season, just seven shy of the school record (12 by Ryan Stegall in 2000). He now has seven saves in his career at Mizzou, two back of 11th all-time at Mizzou as well. Currently, Steele is tied for third in the SEC with his five saves this season and is second in the SEC in games finished while ranking third with his 11 appearances.

So far this season, pitching coach Matt Hobbs has relied heavily on sophomore lefty Austin Tribby as the team's lefty specialist. He leads the team and is first in the SEC with 14 appearances and has done a great job. In fact, he is leading the team in opponent batting average at .111. Five of his team-leading 14 appearances have been to get one batter - usually a lefty - out. He went 1.2 innings last weekend against Tennesse and allowed just one baserunner - on an error. He pitched both games midweek against Milwaukee as well.

Senior righty Eric Anderson moved back into the weekend rotation in each of the last two weeks. He is coming off of one of the best outings of his career, firing 6.0 innings, allowing just five hits and no walks while striking out a career-best eight. He allowed just one earned run in the start last Saturday vs. #17 Tennessee.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 3.83 strikeouts per every walk. The strikeout-walk ratio has been a staple of pitching Coach Matt Hobbs as he works with Tiger pitchers. Since he took over the Tiger pitchers in 2011, the Tigers have seen their strikeout -to-walk ratio improve from 1.92 in 2011 to 2.25 last season and seen even better this year with the 3.83 clip. Below is a look at the numbers under Coach Hobbs.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 110-29 - 3.83
    2013: 342-152 - 2.25
    2012: 352-193 - 1.82
    2011: 409-213 - 1.92

When looking more into the Tiger pitching staff this season, it is easy to see where the point of emphasis from Coach Hobbs has been placed - limiting walks. So far this season, Mizzou is averaging just 1.81 walks per nine innings, by far the best clip during Hobbs' four-year tenure at Mizzou. In fact, since his first year, he has seen that number shrink from 3.70 in 2011 to 3.11 last season and the minuscule 1.81 this season. In Mizzou's first inning against Cincinnati, the Tigers had a streak of 32 innings without a walk snapped. Brett Graves has been one of the Tigers' best at not walking batters with just five in 34.2 innings. He went 13.2 consecutive innings without allowing a walk earlier this season. The Tigers are fourth nationally and second in the SEC in BB/9. Mizzou has also walked just 35 batters this season, the best clip in the SEC

    Yr. BB/9
    2011: 3.70
    2012: 3.24
    2013: 3.11
    2014: 1.81

Another trend developing is the Tigers' ability to score in the sixth inning this season. The Tigers have plated 19 runs in the sixth, their most in any inning, limiting opponents to three.

Mizzou has scored in the first inning in eight of the last 11 games, winning seven of those games. In fact, Mizzou has scored in the first inning in nine games this season and owns a 8-1 mark in those contests.

Although the Tiger bats have struggled at times this season, they still have 10+ hits in eight games - it took Mizzou 34 contests a year ago to have eight 10+ hit games. Also, in Mizzou's 15-3 win over Radford, several milestones fell. Mizzou tallied 10 runs in the sixth inning in its 15-3 win over Radford, marking the first time that the Tigers have tallied a 10-run inning since March 24, 2010, against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Mizzou's 15 runs vs. Radford are the most for a Tiger team since March 14, 2012, when Mizzou plated 21 runs against North Dakota.

Despite the 18-32 mark last season, the Tiger pitching was as good as it has been since 2006 under fourth-year pitching coach Matt Hobbs. In fact, Mizzou had a 3.87 ERA last season, the best since the 2006 team posted a 3.36 ERA. The 3.87 ERA was better than five of the Tigers' eight NCAA Regional teams in the last 11 seasons.

This year, the Mizzou baseball roster features five players that have played together for quite sometime. Brett Graves, Case Munson, Jake Ivory, Brett Peel and Steven Diel all played high school ball for Francis Howell in St. Charles, Mo., winning a state championship together during their senior season.

Junior righty John Miles led Mizzou with a 2.35 ERA coming out of the bullpen last season, but as if that weren't impressive enough, he really turned heads this summer. Playing his summer ball in the NECBL, Miles put together an outstanding season. He set a league record with a .135 opponent batting average and started the league's annual All-Star Game, alongside Tiger teammate Brett Graves. He led all starters in the league with a 1.20 ERA. He closed his summer with a complete game, one-run outing in which he helped his Vermont Mountaineers to a 3-1 win. He was 3-1 in Vermont and allowed an earned run in just three of his starts.

The 2014 season marks the 60-year Anniversary of Mizzou's 1954 team that won the College World Series for the school's first ever National Championship in baseball. Under legendary Tiger head coach John 'Hi' Simmons, the 1954 team was 22-4 overall and went 5-1 at the College World Series, defeating Rollins, 4-1, to claim the Championship. Mizzou also defeated Lafayette, UMass, Oklahoma State and Michigan State at that College World Series.

As the Mizzou baseball program continues its transition into the SEC, the Mizzou Department of Athletics made a major commitment to the program by spending $4 million on a new facility, including a new locker room, coaches office and improved seating at Taylor Stadium. The new facility will be one of the best baseball facilities in the nation and will give players all they need to succeed on site. A state-of-the-art lockerroom, modeled after many big league lockerrooms, along with a team room, an auditorium and training room have been added on site at Taylor Stadium. Also, increased bleachers have been added down the LF line and the old bucket seats have been replaced with new seat-back stadium seats in order to help with the comfort level of the fans.

Former Mizzou standout Aaron Crow was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame this year. Crow established himself as one of the most feared pitchers in the nation during the late 2000s in a time of great success for Tiger baseball under Head Coach Tim Jamieson. During his junior season of 2008, Crow was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game, as he won the Roger Clemens Award, given annually to the top pitcher in college baseball, in addition to being named a consensus 1st-Team All-American. His stats in 2008 were stellar - a perfect 13-0 record, an earned run average of 2.35, four complete-game shutouts and 127 strikeouts (10.65 per nine innings). Had a 43-inning scoreless streak during the 2008 season.

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 in high school.

Mizzou will be televised 11 times in 2014, including four times through the SEC/ESPN deal.

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 24th season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his fourth year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2014 is available at mutigers.tv as part of the Mizzou Network. Mizzou Network is the Tiger fan's 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.

Mizzou will play a doubleheader against Arkansas-Little Rock next Teusday (March 25), beginning at 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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