Tigers Continue Big 12 Play at No. 6 Texas A&M

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Blake Holovach will face Ross Stripling in one of the nation's best pitching matchups on Saturday.</i>
Blake Holovach will face Ross Stripling in one of the nation's best pitching matchups on Saturday.

March 28, 2012

Mizzou (15-9) at Texas A&M (20-5)
• Date: March 30-April 1
• Location: College Station, Texas
• Stadium: Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100)
• Gametracker: MUTigers.com
• Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
• Media Notes: Series Notes - at Texas A&M Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will continue Big 12 play this weekend as it heads to Texas A&M for its first road series in league play against the Aggies, who are ranked as high as sixth in the national polls. Of course this will not be the final meeting as league foes for Mizzou and Texas A&M as both schools head to the SEC next season. In all, Texas A&M leads the all-time series, 40-32, with the most recent meeting coming in the Big 12 title game last year in which the Aggies won on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning. The two schools split the four meetings last season with Mizzou winning two of three in the weekend series before falling in the Big 12 title game.

Tiger Pitching Shines Last Weekend • In Mizzou's series win over Oklahoma State last weekend, the Tiger pitching staff was lights out, allowing just three earned runs in 27.0 innings of baseball. For those keeping track, that is a combined ERA of 1.00 for the weekend. When you look at the starters combined ERA on the weekend, the three starters - Rob Zastryzny, Blake Holovach and Jeff Emens - were even better. They threw 22.0 innings and gave up just one earned run and just 16 hits against 19 strikeouts with a WHIP of 1.00.

Homestand Comes to a Close • Mizzou's series with Central Arkansas closed an 18-game homestand for the Tigers, which marks a season-long. During the 18-game homestand, several Tigers saw a jump in their numbers, most notably Conner Mach and Blake Brown. During the 18 games of the homestand, they were the Tigers' top bats. Below is a breakdown of their production at home vs. their production on the road.

    Conner Mach .362, 15 R, 15 RBI, 1 HR at home. Previous: .105, 1 R, 1 RBI
    Blake Brown .333, 17 R, 19 RBI, 5 HR at home. Previous: .167, 5 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR
Holovach Owns Impressive Streak • The Big 12 has started to take notice of Tiger pitcher Blake Holovach, who has won his first four starts this season in dominating fashion. He nearly threw his second complete game on Saturday against Oklahoma State, going 8.2 innings and allowing just five hits and one run (unearned). He has now thrown 17.2 innings without giving up an earned run. That is the longest such active streak in the Big 12 and is the second-longest by any player in the Big 12 this season.

Better as a Starter
Junior lefty Blake Holovach has been nothing short of sensational since he was inserted into the Tigers' weekend rotation. He tossed a complete game shutout against High Point on March 18, 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. He nearly threw another complete game against Oklahoma State, going 8.2 innings while allowing just one unearned run. Since being inserted into the starting rotation, Holovach's numbers have been very impressive. Below is a look:

• In starting rotation: 29.1 IP, 0.61 ERA, 17 hits, 2 ER, 7 BB, 20 Ks, .163 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 sixth in the Big 12 in ERA, but his numbers as a starter would rank even higher. He would be first in ERA (0.61), first in opponent batting average (.163) and third in wins (three).

Holovach Named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week
Following his outing last Saturday, Blake Holovach earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He is the second Tiger this season to take home a Big 12 weekly honor after Dane Opel took home Big 12 Player of the Week following the Tigers' series win at Auburn in the opening weekend of play.

Emens Strong in Sunday Start
Senior righty Jeff Emens has arguably been one of the Tigers' most valuable arms this season and he once again showed why last Sunday against Oklahoma State. With the Sunday starting job up for grabs, Emens took the ball and threw 5.1 innings of one-run baseball and the only run that he gave up was unearned. He struck out three and did not walk a batter

In all, Emens has been as consistent as any Tiger hurler this season as he owns a 1.95 ERA, which is second on the team while ranking second with 11 appearances this season. His 27.2 innings pitched are tops among regular relievers on the team as well.

Walsh THird Nationally With Eight Saves
Sophomore reliever Jake Walsh enters Tuesday's game ranked third nationally with eight saves this season, two of which were picked up last weekend against Oklahoma State. What is even more remarkable about Walsh's eight saves is that he is now tied for fourth on Mizzou single-season saves list and sits just four back of tying Ryan Stegall for the single season school record (12 in 2000). Walsh needs just two more saves to crack the career top-10 list at Mizzou as well.

Zastryzny Dazzles in Big 12 Opener
Sophomore starter Rob Zastryzny had a career-best outing in a no-decision last Saturday against Oklahoma State, going pitch-for-pitch with OSU's Andrew Heaney, who is projected as a first round MBL Draft Pick this spring. In fact, Zastryzny fired 8.0 innings of one-run baseball while striking out a career-best 12 on 128 pitches, also a career-high. The only run he allowed came with two outs in the first as he then proceeded to throw seven shutout innings before seeing his 2-1 lead lost in the ninth on a home run by OSU's Mark Ginther off of Mizzou's Jake Walsh.

Zastryzny has now started the Tigers' last two Big 12 openers and has put up some noteworthy numbers. In last year's Big 12 opener, Zastryzny gave up no earned runs over 8.0 innings while fanning eight Oklahoma batters. Unfortunately for Zastryzny, he has not won either of those starts.

Gavin Stark Earns a Spot on Top Plays
Mizzou first baseman Gavin Stark did something that no other Tiger baseball player had done - earn a spot on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Plays. In the seventh inning of the Tigers' 4-1 vicotry over Oklahoma State last Saturday, Stark tracked a foul ball into the OSU dugout and flipped head over heels into the dugout while making the catch. That earned him the No. 5 spot on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays that night.

Champagne Reaches Base in 16 Straight
Mizzou centerfielder Brannon Champagne has reached base in 16 consecutive games heading into Friday's contest, the longest such streak by a Tiger this season. The previous best by a Tiger this season was Dane Opel, who did so in 13 straight contests before coming up short in the first game ofthe Oklahoma State series. Staying on that note, Blake Brown has done so in his last 10 games as well.

Power Surge
The Tigers head into the weekend with 15 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 24 games last season and 22 all year. In all, Blake Brown is tied for second in the Big 12 with six while Dane Opel is fourth in the league with five, giving Mizzou two of the best power hitters in the Big 12 Conference.

Brown Third 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 0.96 runs per game and seventh overall with 22 runs scored this season. His 22 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.

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.

Emens Closing In on All-Time Big 12 Top 10
With 82 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 (77). In all, Emens needs 23 more appearances on the mound to earn a spot in the all-time top-10. He has appeared in 11 of the Tigers' 22 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 1.95 as well.

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (175 of 210) 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. It is even more significant as Auburn continues to win in the SEC this season as it is either ranked or recieving votes in several national polls this week.

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.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 have a break from midweek games as they prepare for Baylor to visit Taylor Stadium on Easter Weekend. That series will begin on Thursday and conclude on Saturday.



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