March 28, 2013
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
Mizzou will continue its brief homestand this weekend as it welcomes No. 2 LSU to Taylor Stadium for its third SEC series and second home conference series. LSU, winners of five straight and 18 of 19, come into Taylor Stadium as the nation's No. 2 team and boast a 5-1 SEC record, first in the SEC West. Game one of the series will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and game two will be at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday in front of a national TV audience on Fox Sports South. The series finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start Sunday.
Series History Mizzou and LSU have met twice in history but have not played since the 1987 season when Gene McArtor was still coaching the Tigers. LSU won the first-ever meeting between the two schools, 5-1, back in 1986 and won the next year, 8-5. Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson has never coached against LSU.
A Coaching Connection Despite this being Tim Jamieson's first-ever meeting with LSU as a head coach, there is a bit a familiarity with the LSU program. In fact, Jamieson and LSU coach Paul Mainieri played together for two years (Mainieri's junior and senior seasons and Jamieson's freshman and sophomore seasons) at the University of New Orleans. Of course, Jamieson played at UNO from 1978-81 and was named the team's most valuable player after his senior season, as he hit .300 with eight home runs and 68 RBI, in leading the Privateers to the NCAA Midwest Regional.
Jamieson and Mainieri have never met while at their current SEC institutions, but the two have been in opposing dugouts when Mainieri coached at Notre Dame. The first meeting between the two coaches came in 1999 when the Tigers topped the Irish, 13-1, coincidentally in New Orleans. The two teams again played in New Orleans back in 2002 with Mainieri's team claiming a 7-6 with a run in the top of the ninth. Future big-leaguer Justin James started that game for Mizzou.
Last Time Out Mizzou (9-12) reached double-digit runs for the second-straight game as the Tigers beat Nebraska-Omaha by an 11-4 final Wednesday. Griffin Goodrich (2-0) got the win for Mizzou, as he threw three innings of no-hit baseball, issuing just one walk in his appearance. Offensively, the Tigers were boosted offensively by Dillon Everett and Keaton Steele, who each had three RBI in the contest.
Bats Come Alive
Over the Tigers' last six games, the bats finally got going. Mizzou has hit .272 in that span, but the big improvement came in the ability to hit for more power. In fact, in the last six games, Mizzou has 19 doubles, a triple and four home runs (24 total extra-base hits in six games) while in the previous 15 games, Mizzou had just 17 doubles and 18 total extra-base hits with no home runs. In fact, Mizzou had slugged just .281 as a team in the first 15 games this season before slugging .436 in the last six. Ten different Tigers tallied doubles in that span with seven tallying at least two doubles.
Extra Notables on Extra-Base Hits
Mizzou has 24 extra-base hits in the last six games, passing its total from the first 15 games (18).
10 different players tallied extra-base hits, including seven players with at least two.
Dane Opel led the way with four extra-base hits - two doubles and two homers.
Mizzou raised its slugging percentage from .281 to .328 with a .436 mark in the last six.
Mizzou leads the SEC with 16 doubles in SEC games - Mizzou has six doubles in each of its last two games.
Senior lefty Dane Opel
had an SEC Player of the Week-type performance last week as he hit a team-best .526 with seven runs, seven RBI, two homers and two doubles while slugging .947 with an OBP of .565. Heading into the week, Opel had been hitting for a good average, but the power numbers weren't quite there as he had just two extra-base hits. But Opel changed all that last week, tallying homers in back-to-back games of a doubleheader vs. Arkansas State and then exploding six hits (two doubles) while driving in two and scoring four more in the weekend series at Tennessee.
Notables on Opel
Opel Owns Impressive Streak
Opel has four extra-base hits in his last six games, doubling his total from the previous 15 games.
Opel became the first Tiger to homer in back-to-back games since he did so on May 9 last season.
Opel had just four RBI heading into last week, but has driven in seven over his last six games.
Nearly had his first career grand slam at UT Saturday, lacing a double off the top of the wall in CF.
Raised his slugging % from .354 to .493 with his .783 clip over his last six.
Senior Dane Opel
carries into this weekend a 14-game streak in which he has reached base safely after going 1-for-4 against Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday. It is the longest such streak by a Tiger this season, and it matches the longest of his career, which was originally set during his freshman season in 2010.
Lester Continues to Produce
Freshman Josh Lester continues to be a key contributor early in his Tiger career and may have put together his best week as a Tiger last week, specifically in the Tigers' 14-6 win over Tennessee on Saturday. In that win, Lester went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a homer while scoring two runs and driving in three more. Below is a look at Lester's performance.
Notables on Lester
Starters Continue to Impress
Reset career-highs in hits (three), runs (two), RBI (three), doubles (two) and homers (one) vs. UT Saturday.
Hit .250 with two runs, five RBI and two doubles last week.
Hit his first career homer off of UT reliever Matt Espraza on a 1-0 pitch in the sixth inning.
Leads the Tigers in RBI this season despite starting just 16 games and playing in just 20.
Is hitting .286 with runners on base this season and .273 with runners in scoring position.
The Tiger starting pitchers have been the highlight of the season so far in 2013. In fact, in 21 games, the Tiger starters own a 2.27 ERA and that mark is a miniscule 1.69 in the last 15 games. Below are notables on the Tiger starting pitching this season.
Notbales on Starters
Mizzou starters have allowed just two earned runs or less in 17 of 21 starts this season.
Seven of those 17 outings have been shutout starts as well.
A Mizzou starter has not allowed more than two ERs in 15 of 16 starts.
Mizzou starters have combined to throw 111 innings this season, nearly 65-percent of Mizzou's innings.
In SEC play, Mizzou starters have a 2.31 ERA in six total starts and have not allowed more than three ERs.
In the SEC Rankings
Each week, we will highlight some of the notable SEC ranks for the Tigers. Ranks will include all games and from SEC games only. Below is a look at this week's notable rankings.
ERA Much Better Since Opening Two Weeks
1st - Doubles (SEC games) - 16
1st - HBP (SEC games) - 12
1st - Doubles Allowed (SEC games) - 3
2nd - Walks Allowed (SEC games) - 15
4th - Earned Runs Allowed (SEC games) - 17
4th - ERA (SEC games) - 2.92
5th - Runs Allowed (SEC games) - 23
After the opening two weekends of play, Mizzou had a staff ERA of 5.25, allowing 28 earned runs over the six games. But since that time, the Tigers have been lights out on the mound, owning a staff ERA of 2.57, a mark that would rank fifth in the SEC this week behind just Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State. In that time, Mizzou has allowed just 37 earned runs in 129.1 innings pitched and has walked just 46 batters in those 129.1 innings, meaning Mizzou pitchers have walked just one batter every three innings over the last 14 games. Only Kentucky and LSU, both top-10 teams, have issued fewer walks than the Tigers this season.
In all this season, Mizzou now owns a 3.30 ERA. Mizzou has not had an ERA that low at this point in the season since the 2008 campaign. That year, Mizzou went 39-21 and had two pitchers (Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson) that were eventually drafted in the first round and another (Nick Tepesch) that was just named the Texas Rangers' No. 5 starter heading into this season. Crow was an All-Star with the Kansas City Royals and Gibson was the Twins' top pitching prospect until Tommy John surgery last year set him back. He is still one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.
Pitching Continues to Shine In SEC Games
The pitching has continued to stay hot in SEC games as it has allowed the fourth-fewest earned runs in SEC games with just 17 over six games (2.83 per game). In fact, Mizzou leads the SEC with just three doubles allowed in six SEC games this season and has walked just 15 batters in six SEC games, second-best in the league. The Tigers' 2.92 ERA in league games in fourth-best in the SEC as well. The Tigers also own a 41-15 strikeout to walk-ratio in SEC play this season.
Kelly Continues to Produce
Junior catcher Dylan Kelly continues to be one of the Tigers' top offensive weapons this season. The lefty is hitting a team-best .368, a mark that ranks ninth in the SEC and second among SEC catchers. Kelly hit his first career Division I homer last Saturday at Tennessee, sending a three-run shot over the scoreboard in right field. He leads the team in batting (.368), doubles (six) and slugging (.500), is second in total bases (34) and OBP (.434) and is third on the team in runs (10). He has also played tremendous defense and has asserted himself as the No. 1 catcher after a close battle with Jake Ivory in preseason camp.
Dillon Everett Returns From Broken Hand
Junior infielder Dillon Everett returned to the Tiger lineup last week and has now started at short in the last 11 games. Since returning to the lineup, Everett has hit .286 with six runs and seven RBI with a pair of doubles in 11 games, all starts at shortstop.
But as good as he has been with his bat, it has been his play defensively that has rallied the Tigers as he owns a .975 fielding percentage with just one error against 14 putouts and 25 assists in that span. In fact, Everett's presence on the infield has helped shore up the defense, which has a .976 mark since his return. In the 10 games prior to his return, Mizzou owned just a .955 clip. Since his return from the hand injury, Mizzou's infield has just six errors (in 11 games) while it had 10 in the first 10 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 four starts, James has allowed just 12 hits over 19.2 innings pitched while striking out 14 and walking just seven. He had 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
Home Sweet Taylor
Had not allowed an earned run in 19.1 straight innings before last Tuesday.
His 19.1-inning shutout streak is the longest for Mizzou since Blake Holovach tossed 25 straight last year.
James is second in the SEC lead in ERA (1.14) in 23.2 innings pitched this season.
James is limiting opposing batters to just a .200 average, sixth-best in the SEC.
Mizzou owns an 8-4 record in games played at Taylor Stadium this season, and the numbers show why Mizzou has been able to be successful at home. Below are notables on the Tigers at home
Notables at Taylor Stadium
Walsh is the Tigers' Ironman
Mizzou has hit .269 as a team at home, up from its .190 clip through the first six games.
The Tigers have tallied 56 RBI at home this season. They had just eight in the first six games combined.
After striking out 9.1 times per game in the first six, Mizzou has struck out just 56 times at home (4.7/gm).
Mizzou has committed just 13 errors at home, a vast improvement from their 12 in the first six games.
The pitching staff has a 1.99 ERA at home, considerably lower than the 5.25 mark in the first six.
It is no secret that as the Tigers' top lefty arm, Jake Walsh
has been one of the Tigers' most used bullpen arms. In fact, Walsh has appeared in a team high 12 of 21 games this season and has been trotted out in seven of the last nine games for Mizzou and has been lights out in that span, allowing just one earned run and striking out eight in 6.1 innings. In all this season, Walsh has the best ERA among Tiger lefties with a 2.92 mark, allowing just four earned runs all season.
Rob Z Fans 10, Again
Mizzou starter Rob Zastryzny fanned 10 batters 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. The week prior, Zastryzny struck out 10 San Francisco Don batters in the 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 15 free passes (nine walks, six hit-by-pitch) in the first 21 games. In fact, his 15 free bases coupled with his .338 average so far give him a team-best .443 on-base percentage. Opel's career-high for OBP in a season is just .386 as a freshman in 2010.
Rash Finally Surrenders an Earned Run
Freshman Alec Rash finally surrendered an earned run over the weekend at Tennessee as the Vols tagged him for four runs (only one earned) in his third career start on Saturday. He picked up the win, but had gone 12.1 straight innings without an earned run to open the season.
Notables on Rash
Great Debut For Keeton
Leads the team in ERA (0.53), opponent batting average (.169) and is second in WHIP 1.18.
Averages 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings, second-best on the team.
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.
Mizzou will play its annual Braggin' Rights at Busch Stadium game vs. rival Illinois Tuesday (April 2) at 6 p.m. The game will air live on Big Ten Network. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.