Baseball Opens Big 12 Play with Oklahoma State

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Fans can attend all three games this weekend for just $1</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Fans can attend all three games this weekend for just $1
MUTIGERS.COM

March 22, 2012

Mizzou (12-7) vs. Oklahoma State (12-9)
• Date: March 23-25
• 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. OSU Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will continue its homestand as it opens Big 12 Conference play against Oklahoma State on Friday at 6 p.m. The series will resume Saturday at 6 p.m. at Taylor Stadium before the series finale is played at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Special Promotions • In hopes of getting large crowds to the three Big 12 games this weekend, the Mizzou baseball program is offering $1 tickets for all three games this weekend. Also, Sunday will serve as the first 'Tiger Little League Sunday.' Any fan wearing his/her Little League uniform to the game on Sunday will receive free admission while his/her family will get in for just $1.

Series History • Mizzou and OSU have met 195 times in history and the Cowboys hold a 129-66 advantage after taking three of four games last season, highlighted by a three-game sweep in Stillwater last April. However, Mizzou did win the last meeting between the two teams at the Big 12 Tournament on a walk-off single by Eric Garcia. His walk-off single backed a great start by then freshman lefty Rob Zastrzyny, who went 7.0 innings, allowing just two earned runs while fanning seven. He will get the start for the Tigers Friday night.

Mizzou Win Streak • Although the Tigers have dropped their last two, 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 12-7 heading into the Indiana State game, Mizzou is off to its best start since 2010 when the team opened 17-2 through its first 18 games. The 12-7 mark is a vast improvement from last year's team that opened the season at 9-9.

Power Surge • The Tigers head into the weekend with 14 home runs, the third-most in the Big 12 this season. This is a marked improvement from a Tiger team that had just four long balls through 19 games last season and 22 all year. 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.

Better as a Starter
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 Reaches Base in 13 Straight Games
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou junior outfielder has reached base in 13 consecuitve games, the longest such streak by a Tiger this season and the longest active streak in the Big 12. In all, his 13-game streak is a team-best this season and the seventh-longest in the Big 12 this season.

Opel Ranked Among Conference Elite
Junior outfielder Dane Opel carries more than just a 13-game hit streak into the Indiana State game Wednesday. He ranks eighth in the Big 12 in hitting (.356), third in home runs (five), seveth in total bases (43, 2.53 per game) and first in slugging (.729) as he continues to be one of the league's top power hitters. Opel's OPS this season is 1.178, 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. 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 third in the Big 12 with 1.11 runs per game and seventh 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 12 points lower (.273 vs. .285 last season) through 19 games this season, Mizzou is putting up much better offensive numbers. They have scored 123 runs this season against just 105 last year and have 107 RBI against just 90 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 34 a season ago. The Tigers are slugging .394 as a team, a vast improvement from the .355 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. He was 1-3 vs. Indiana St.

Emens Closing In on All-Time Big 12 Top 10
With 81 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, five ahead of Texas A&M's Estevan Uriegas (76). In all, Emens needs 24 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 fifth in Big 12 in ERA at 2.42 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 .311 with an OBP of .434. In those 12 games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents, 107-67, while six of the Tigers' nine regular position players are hitting .310 or better, highlighted by a .422 clip from Conner Mach.

Capitalizing on Scoring Chances
Heading into the Oklahoma State series, the Tigers are hitting .290 (56-193) 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 70-percent of those opportunities this season (41-of-59).

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (148 of 165) 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.

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.

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 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.

UP NEXT
Mizzou will host Central Arkansas in a pair of midweek games next Tuesday and Wednesday. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

 

 

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