March 20, 2013
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
After going 7-4 on a season-long 11-game homestand, the Mizzou baseball team will return to the road for an SEC series at Tennessee, beginning this Friday at 5 p.m. (CT). The series will resume Saturday at 3 p.m. (CT) before concluding on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT).
Series History Mizzou and Tennessee have never met, but Mizzou holds an all-time record 39-38-1 against teams that made up the SEC last season and a 73-80-1 overall record against current SEC members after taking one of three from No. 5 South Carolina at Taylor Stadium last weekend. This is, however, the Tigers' first road series in SEC play.
On the Road Again The Tigers return to the road this weekend for the first time since February when they wrapped up a three-game series at Memphis. The road has not been friendly to the Tigers this season as they are 0-6 on the road this season and own just a 1.90 batting average and a 5.25 staff ERA. The Tigers have scored just 11 runs on the road and driven in only eight of those.
Last Time Out The Tigers split a doubleheader with Sun Belt Conference for Arkansas State on Tuesday. The two-game set was originaly scheduled to be contested Tuesday and Wednesday, but cold weather forecasted for Wednesday forced a doubleheader on Tuesday.
The Tigers got another great start from sophomore righty Jace James, who went 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run while striking out eight. The start by James extended his shutout innings streak to 19.1 innings before he allowed a solo dinger to Arkansas State's Ryan Roberts in the seventh inning. James' 19.1 consecutive shutout innings are the longest by a Tiger since Blake Holovach tossed 25.0 last season. Dane Opel homered in the game, the Tigers' first home run of the season.
Mizzou battled back to tie game two of the doubleheader at 3-3 before allowing seven unearned runs in the eighth to give ASU the win. Jake Ivory dropped the third strike on what would have been the third out in the inning, and then the flood gates opened for ASU. Opel homered again in the loss.
Notables From South Carolina Series
Mizzou took one of three games against No. 5 South Carolina in its inaugural SEC series. Mizzou lost the opening game, 4-1, in front of a Taylor Stadium regular season record 3,145 fans despite a great pitching performance from Rob Zastryzny, who struck out 10 SC batters, marking his second consecutive start with 10 strikeouts. Sophomore Brett Graves tossed his first career complete game on Saturday in game one of a doubleheader, allowing just one earned run over 9.0 innings, but was a tough-luck loser as Mizzou fell, 2-0. The Tigers rallied to win the series finale, 4-0, behind a stellar team effort from the pitching staff, including reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week Keaton Steele, who allowed just three hits and four baserunners (none past first base) while striking out seven over the final six innings to earn the win. The win gives Mizzou its first ever win in SEC play as 2013 marks the program's inaugural season in the league.
Mizzou's win on Saturday was its first over a top-five opponent since May 28, 2011, vs. No. 2 Texas in the Big 12 Tournament.
Starters Continue to Impress
The 4-0 shutout of SC in the Saturday nightcap marked the first time that the Gamecocks have been shutout since April 12, 2011, a streak of 125 games.
The Tigers allowed just three earned runs over the three games with the Gamecocks, holding them to a .188 average in the three games.
A school record 3,145 fans watch the Tigers and Gamecocks play on Friday night, breaking the regular season stadium attendance record.
The Tigers held the Gamecocks' top two hitters - Joey Pankake and LB Dantzler - to just a 3-for-25 performance on the weekend (.120 average).
Mizzou outhit South Carolina, 23-19, and despite going 1-2 lost by just a 6-5 overall score in the series.
Saturday's 4-0 win was South Carolina's worst loss of the season.
Mizzou allowed just 28 Gamecocks to reach base safely over the three games and issued just six walks all weekend.
The Tiger starting pitchers have been the highlight of the season so far in 2013. In fact, in 17 games, the Tiger starters own a 2.14 ERA and that mark is a miniscule 1.28 in the last 11 games (all home contests). Below are notables on the Tiger starting pitching this season.
Notbales on Starters
Mizzou Leads SEC In ERA, Opponent Batting
Mizzou starters have allowed just two earned runs or less in 14 of 17 starts this season.
Six of those 14 outings have been shutout starts as well.
A Mizzou starter has not allowed more than two ERs in 12 straight starts, dating back to Feb. 23.
Mizzou starters have combined to throw 92.1 innings this season, nearly 65-percent of Mizzou's innings.
Starters have combined to throw 75 of the team's 115 strikeouts, highlighted by 27 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 1.23 ERA and own an 44/14 strikeout/walk ratio.
After the first weekend of SEC play, Mizzou leads the SEC in ERA (1.00) and opponent batting average (.188) while ranking fourth in strikeouts at 22 during league play. The Tigers held South Carolina to just 19 hits and 28 base runners last weekend and only allowed two extra-base hits (unfortunately, both were homers). The Tiger pitching has been extraordinary since returning home to Taylor Stadium, boasting a 1.80 ERA and a .217 opponent batting average.
Tiger Pitching Staff Has ERA Under 3.00, First Time Since 2009
Heading into the weekend, the Mizzou pitching staff as a combined ERA of 2.96. That feat has not been accomplished this late in the season since 2009. Mizzou of course went to a Regional that season as the rotation was bolstered by Kyle Gibson, who is now the Minnesota Twins' top pitching prospect. Of the 10 Tiger pitchers to throw at least five innings this season, eight have ERA's of 3.00 or less and nine have ERAs under 5.00. Mizzou also owns a 123/51 (2.41) strikeout-to-walk ratio this season, better than any of the last three Tiger teams. Once again, the last team to post similar numbers to that was the Tigers' 2009 Regional team, which posted a 2.77 mark that season.
Senior lefty Dane Opel, who became the first Tiger to lead the Big 12 in homers last season, finally got his first homers of the year on Tuesday in the doubleheader against Arkansas State. Opel deposited two homers in the two games over the right field fence for his first and second shots of the year. Not only that, but Opel had a huge day in the doubleheader, going 4-for-6 with the two bombs, three runs and five RBI. He slugged 1.667 in the two games and owned an OBP of .625. Opel's bat heating up may be a very good sign for the Tigers as they continue SEC play.
Steele Finding His Way on Mound
Righty Keaton Steele was roughed up in his first pitching appearance of the season at Southern Miss, getting tagged for three hits, four earned runs and two walks in just 0.2 innings pitched. But since that time, Steele has been lights out. In fact, over his last three appearances (one start), Steele has a perfect ERA and has allowed just seven hits and three walks in 13.0 innings while striking out 14. He is coming off of a brilliant relief outing against No. 5 South Carolina in which he allowed just three hits and a walk over 6.0 innings, striking out seven to earn his second win of the season. He was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for his efforts in that game.
Keeton Owns the No. 1 Spot
Mizzou has found its leadoff man over the last 10 games in second baseman Kendall Keeton. Since moving to the leadoff spot, Mizzou is 6-4 in those eight games and is hitting .260 with an OBP of .366. That is a vast improvement from the team that hit just .188 with an OBP of .267 with Keeton in the bottom part of the order. Mizzou has scored 52 runs (driving in 44 of those) in the last 10 games with Keeton at the top of the order while it had just 12 runs in the first seven games. Since moving to the leadoff spot, Keeton has posted a .262 average with 11 hits while driving in four runs and scoring a team-best nine runs.
Kelly On Fire
Junior catcher Dylan Kelly had reached base safely in 13 straight games, a season-long for Mizzou in 2013, before seeing that streak snapped on Tuesday in game two of the doubleheader against Arkansas State. The 13-game streak is the longest such streak by a Tiger catcher since Ben Turner reached base safely in 14 consecutive games during the 2011 season. The longest by a Mizzou catcher in the last 10 years was 19 by Brett Nicholas in 2010. At .365 this season, Kelly ranks as the second-best batting catcher in the SEC, trailing only Ole Miss' Stuart Turner (.474), who leads the SEC in batting. Below are a few notables on Kelly so far this season.
Notables on Kelly
Dillon Everett Returns From Broken Hand
Leads the team in batting (.365), hits (19) and OBP (.441).
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 (four) and is the Tigers' top hitter with two strikes: 11-for-28 (.393).
Is perfect in the field with 89 put outs, 12 assists and no errors while throwing out two base stealers.
Is hitting .412 on the road this season, the only Tiger over .300.
Has dominated right-handed pitching this season, hitting .387 in 31 at-bats.
Had reached base safely in 13 straight games, a season-long for the Tigers.
Junior infielder Dillon Everett
returned to the Tiger lineup last week and has now started at short in the last seven games. He tallied nine putouts and 14 assists against just one error in his return to the field, but it has been his bat that has made the most noise since his return. In fact, Everett has hit .292 in 24 at-bats with a double, two RBI and four runs since returning to the lineup and has reached base safely in four straight games.
James Shines As Starter
As mentioned earlier, 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 three starts, James has allowed just nine hits over 17.2 innings pitched while striking out 14 and walking just five. He is coming off of a career-best outing against Arkansas State in which he threw 6.2 innings while striking out eight and giving up just one unearned runs. The eight strikeouts and 6.2 innings pitched in that game are both Division I career-bests for James.
Notbales on James
Goodrich Gets Another Start
Had not allowed an earned run in 19.1 straight innings before Tuesday.
His 19.1-inning shutout streak is the longest for Mizzou since Blake Holovach tossed 25 straight last year.
James is leading the SEC lead in ERA (0.46) in 19.2 innings pitched this season.
James is limiting opposing batters to just a .159 average, fourth-best in the SEC.
Freshman righty Griffin Goodrich
earned another start this Wednesday against Arkansas State. In two starts this season, Goodrich has been very good, going 9.0 innings and allowing just one earned run on five hits with 10 strikeouts. He has walked just one in those nine innings as well.
Home Sweet Taylor
Mizzou returned to Taylor Stadium over the last three weeks and got some much-needed wins, going 7-4 in those 11 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
Rob Z Fans 10, Again
Mizzou has hit .254 as a team at home, up from its .190 clip through the first six games.
The Tigers have tallied 45 RBI at home this season. They had just eight in the first six games combined.
Every Tiger with at least 25 at-bats in the homestand has at least six hits.
After striking out 9.1 times per game in the first six, Mizzou struck out just 56 times at home (6.63/game).
Mizzou has committed just 13 errors at home, a vast improvement from their 12 in the first six games.
The pitching staff has a 1.80 ERA at home, considerably lower than the 5.25 mark in the first six.
Mizzou starters have just a 1.28 ERA at home.
Mizzou pitching has a 1.19 WHIP at home, down from a 1.56 mark over the first six games.
For the second straight weekend, Mizzou starter Rob Zastryzny
fanned 10 batters, this time in a Friday night start against No. 5 South Carolina, which entered the game as the only team in the nation to walk more than it had struck out this season. Zastryzny struck out 10 and walked just two in the start. Two weeks ago, Zastryzny struck out 10 San Francisco Don batters in Friday night start, making him the first Tiger to tally back-to-back games with 10 or more strikeouts since Kyle Gibson
did so on March 20, 2009. Gibson struck out 11 against Texas in a complete game on March 14 and then fanned 16 Texas A&M batters the next weekend.
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 12 free passes (seven walks, five hit-by-pitch) in the first 17 games. In fact, his 12 free bases coupled with his .333 average so far give him a team-best .441 on-base percentage. Opel's career-high for OBP in a season is just .386 as a freshman in 2010.
Rash Remains Perfect
After making two starts last week, freshman Alec Rash joins teammate Jace James as the only two Tigers yet to allow an earned run this season. He has thrown 12.0 innings without an earned run, striking out seven in that time. He leads the team in opponent batting average (.093) and has allowed the fewest hits per innings pitched on the team this season.
Notables on Rash
Great Debut For Keeton
Leads the team in ERA (0.00), WHIP (0.92) and opponent batting average (.093).
Averages 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings, second-best on the team.
Has allowed just four hits all season in 12.0 innings pitched.
Rash also leads the team in BABIP at .129, the only Tiger under .150 in that category.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The Tigers will return home to host Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday (March 26) at 2 p.m. before hosting LSU in a three-game series from March 29-31. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.