Josh Lester continues to be a key contributor for Mizzou this season.
March 24, 2013
The Extra Nine is a weekly blog by MUTigers.com correspondent Brandon Weiss
A 2-3 week puts the Tigers at 8-12 heading into another measuring stick set, as the LSU Tigers come to Columbia on Friday. Mizzou split a Tuesday double header with Arkansas State, knocking, off the Red Wolves 5-1 before falling 10-3 in the nightcap. The Tigers then took their talents to Knoxville, where the Tennessee Volunteers took the first two games of the series before an offensive explosion by Mizzou in game three, where the Tigers scored a season-high 14 runs.
1 - Power Outage Over
Missouri entered the week as the only SEC team without any home runs on the year, but that ended quickly as last season's Big 12 home run leader Dane Opel launched two shots in the Tuesday double header against Arkansas State, both over the wall in right field. Dylan Kelly and Josh Lester then joined the Mizzou baseball bomb squad in game two of the Saturday set in Tennessee, each player's first home run in their Mizzou career.
2 - Big Week for Opel
Opel had been primed for a big week at the plate, showing he was locked in against South Carolina with solid at bats and good contact on his swings. The ball started to find gaps this week as Opel racked up double-digit hits, going 10-for-19 with seven RBI, seven runs and two home runs in the last two series.
3 - Lester Leading the Team
Other than Lester's home run against Tennessee, the freshman reaffirmed his impact on the lineup by taking over the team lead in RBI. He currently sits one RBI above both Opel and Dylan Kelly with 12 for the team lead. Originally working his way into the lineup at shortstop because of injuries to Shane Segovia and Dillon Everett on opening weekend, Lester has become a staple at first base for Mizzou, and his presence in the batting order has proved beneficial for the offense.
4 - Munson's Big Game
Case Munson had a huge game in the early game in the Saturday set against Tennessee, doing it all as the Tigers lost 7-6 to the Vols. Munson started off his day with a two-out RBI single to put Mizzou on top, followed that up with an outfield assist to nail a runner at home, and added on a double, a run scored, and a ninth-inning RBI to put the Tigers ahead 6-5 before the Vols scored two in the bottom of the frame for the win.
5 - Quality Starts
No starting pitcher for Mizzou gave up more than three earned runs on the week, and midweek starters Jace James and Griffin Goodrich both set or matched career highs in strikeouts with eight and five, respectively. Rob Zastryzny went 6.2 innings, the deepest of any Tiger starter, giving up three runs in the series-opening loss to Tennessee. All three runs from Zastryzny were surrendered in the first inning, but he settled in after to hold the Vols off the board for the rest of his appearance. Brett Graves and Alec Rash both went five innings, neither allowing more than two earned runs in their time on the mound.
6 - Solid Defense
Mizzou had just two errors on the week in five games, an uptick from last weekend's set against South Carolina. In the opening SEC series, the Tigers' defense gave extra chances to the Gamecocks five times, leading to three unearned runs, including a back-breaking two-out, two-run single by TJ Costen in the first SEC game that scored two unearned runs to put South Carolina on top 4-1.
7 - Late Game Battles
The Tigers were either tied or ahead of the opponent in the seventh inning or later in four of five games on the week. The record for Mizzou in those games was 2-2. The first late-inning loss of the week came in the second game against Arkansas State, when seven runs in the eighth inning led to a 10-3 win for the Red Wolves. The second close loss of the week came in the first Saturday game against Tennessee, where the Tigers led 5-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth but fell by a 7-6 final.
8 - Injury Report
There are no injuries to report for Mizzou heading into next week's four-game set.
9 - What's Next
Mizzou is scheduled to take on Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday, a team the Tigers beat 14-4 last season. On the weekend, top-10 LSU comes to Columbia for a three-game weekend set. The visiting Tigers have won both series against Mizzou historically, and Missouri is 0-2 against LSU during head coach Tim Jamieson's tenure. Of course, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson and LSU head coach Paul Mainieri played with each other for two seasons while at the University of New Orleans. Jamieson and Mainieri have met in opposing dugouts before, but this will be the first time with Mainieri donning the LSU jersey. Jamieson is 1-1 against Mainieri with both meetings coming while Mainieri was at Notre Dame - Jamieson's squad won 13-1 in 1999 while Mainieri's Irish won 7-6 in 10 innings back in 2002.
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