Tigers Host Indiana State Wednesday at 3 p.m.

<i>Brett Graves will start for the Tigers on Wednesday</i>

Brett Graves will start for the Tigers on Wednesday

March 20, 2012

Mizzou (12-6) vs. Indiana State (16-4)
• Date: March 21
• Location: Columbia, Mo.
• Stadium: Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium (3,013)
• Gametracker: MUTigers.com
• Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
• Media Notes: Game Notes - vs. Indiana State Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team, which has won 10 of its last 11 games and is fresh off of its longest winning streak since the 2008 season, will host Indiana State in a one-game series this Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. The game will serve as the final tune-up for the Tigers before they open Big 12 play with Oklahoma State this weekend.

Mizzou Win Streak • Although the Tigers dropped their series finale to High Point last Sunday, they had won 10 consecutive games, marking the program's longest winning streak since winning 14 in a row back in 2008. In 2008, of course Mizzou qualified for an NCAA Regional that year.

Tigers Off to Best Start Since 2008 • With a record 12-6 heading into the Indiana State game, Mizzou is off to its best start since 2008 when the team opened 16-2 through its first 18 games. The 12-6 mark is a vast improvement from last year's team that opened the season at 9-9.

Power Surge • The Tigers head into Wednesday's contest with 14 home runs, the second-most in the Big 12 this season. This is a marked improvement from a Tiger team that had just four long balls through 18 games last season. In all, Blake Brown is tied for the Big 12 lead with six while Dane Opel is third in the league with five, giving Mizzou two of the best power hitters in the Big 12 Conference.

Holovach Shines • Junior lefty Blake Holovach has been nothing short of sensational since he was inserted into the Tigers' weekend rotation. He is coming off of a career-best outing in which he tossed a complete game shutout against High Point on Saturday, doing so on 115 pitches. He is the first Tiger since 2010 to toss a nine-inning complete game and the first since Kyle Gibson in 2009 to toss a complete game shutout. Since being inserted into the starting rotation, Holovach's numbers have been very impressive. Below is a look:

    • In starting rotation: 20.2 IP, 0.87 ERA, 12 hits, 2 ER, 5 BB, 16 Ks, .164 OPP BA, 0.92 WHIP • Out of Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 16.88 ERA, 9 hits, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 Ks, .563 OPP BA, 5.62 WHIP
Holovach is currently ninth in the Big 12 in ERA, but his numbers as a starter would rank even higher. He would be first in ERA (0.87), first in opponent batting average (.164) and second in wins (three).

Opel Carries League's Longest Active Hit Streak
Heading into Wednesday's game with Indiana State, Mizzou junior outfielder carries the Big 12's longest active hit streak at 12 games. In all, his 12-game hit streak is a team-best this season and the third-longest in the Big 12. The next-best active streak in the Big 12 is nine games by Cal Towey of Baylor.

Opel Ranked Among Conference Elite
Junior outfielder Dane Opel carries more than just a 12-game hit streak into the Indiana State game Wednesday. He ranks sixth in the Big 12 in hitting (.362), third in home runs (five), fifth in total bases (43, 2.15 per game) and first in slugging (.741) as he continues to be one of the league's top power hitters. Opel's OPS this season is 1.180, a Big 12-best this season as well.

Walsh Halfway to History
Redshirt sophomore lefty Jake Walsh is already halfway to the Mizzou single season record for saves with six this season. Ryan Stegall is the current Mizzou school record holder with 12 in 2000. Walsh is 6-for-7 in save opportunites and leads the team in appearances with 10 this season. His six saves so far are tops in the Big 12 as he has closed six of the Tigers' 12 victories. He earned his first win of the season against High Point last Friday as well. What is even more mind-blowing is that Walsh is now fifth among active Big 12 players in career saves as well.

Brown Second in Big 12 in Runs Per Game
Junior outfielder Blake Brown has made a habit out of scoring runs this season. He is second in the Big 12 with 1.18 runs per game and fifth overall with 20 runs scored this season. His 20 runs are more notable after knowing that the Tiger who scored the most runs last season was Jonah Schmidt with 34 in 59 games. Brown is nearly two thirds of the way to that mark less than a third of the way through the season this year.

Offensive Turnaround
Staying on the topic of improved offense, the Tigers' are far and ahead of where they were through 18 games offensively last season. Despite hitting five points lower (.275 vs. .280 last season) through 18 games this season, Mizzou is putting up much better offensive numbers. They have scored 122 runs this season against just 105 last year and have 105 RBI against just 82 at this point last season. The big difference from 2012 vs. 2011 is the amount of extra-base hits as Mizzou has 43 against just 30 a season ago. The Tigers are slugging .402 as a team, a vast improvement from the .347 clip at this point in 2011.

Three Tigers Have 5-RBI Games This Season
The Tigers had just one five-RBI game last season (Blake Brown vs. Texas A&M on April 30) but already have three such games this season. Brannon Champagne was the first to so against North Dakota on March 13 and then both Conner Mach and Brown did so the following day against North Dakota.

Turner Heating Up
Tiger backstop Ben Turner had arguably his best week at the dish in Mizzou's five games last weekend. In fact, he hit .600 in four games (6-of-10) while drawing seven walks for a team-best OBP of .778 last week. He also tallied his first career home run in Mizzou's 4-0 win over High Point on Saturday and registered his first career walk-off hit against High Point on Friday night. Turner leads the team with 15 walks.

Emens Closing In on All-Time Big 12 Top 10
With 80 career appearances on the mound, Tiger senior Jeff Emens is closing in on the all-time Big 12 top 10 in career appearances. He is the league's active leader in that category, four ahead of Texas A&M's Estevan Uriegas (76). In all, Emens needs 25 more appearances on the mound to earn a spot in the all-time top-10. He has appeared in half of the Tigers' games this season and is on pace to crack the top 10 should the Tigers reach the postseason. His single season career-best in appearances is 25 in 2009. Emens is currently sixth in Big 12 in ERA at 2.57 as well.

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. As a team the Tigers are hitting .317 with an OBP of .439. In those 11 games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents, 106-52, while seven of the Tigers' nine regular position players are hitting .306 or better, highlighted by a .442 clip from Conner Mach.

Capitalizing on Scoring Chances
Heading into the Indiana State series, the Tigers are hitting .348 (48-138) with runners in scoring position this season, a big improvement from a team that hit just .259 in those situations last season. Another telling stat is the Tigers' average with a runner on third and less than two outs. At this point last season, Mizzou scored in just half of those opportunities, while the team has scored on 76-percent of those opportunities this season (35-of-46).

Tigers Stranding Fewer Runners
Another telling stat for the Tigers' improved offense is that they are stranding fewer runners on base. In fact, the Tigers have stranded just 92 runners this season (5.1 per game). That is a huge turnaround from last season when the team stranded 154 runners through the first 18 contests (8.6 per game).

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (143 of 156) 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 18 this season. Turner's 44 starts at catcher last season are the most since Trevor Coleman started 53 games in 2008.

Tigers Named Team of the Week by CBI
The Mizzou baseball team earned a prestigious honor earlier this season as College Baseball Insider named Mizzou as its Central Region Team of the Week after it put together a 4-0 week from March 5-11. 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 from March 4-11 in four Tiger wins, including a three-game sweep of Charlotte 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.

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 and 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 as it opens Big 12 play this weekend against Oklahoma State, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. The two teams will play again on Saturday at 6 p.m. and close the series at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets to each game are on sale at a special promotional price of just $1, and Sunday's game will be the first `Tiger Little League Sunday' this season. Any fan dressed in their little league uniform will get his/her entire family into the game for just $1.



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