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First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team, fresh off of its second-straight extra-inning win, will face No. 8 Texas this weekend for its second Big 12 Conference series this season. Mizzou has won its last two games and nine of the last 12 as it prepares for the Longhorns. The Tigers topped Texas State, 3-2, in 11 innings in San Marcos on Wednesday after a game-winning single by Conner Mach.
Series Information Texas leads the all-time series with Mizzou, 29-25, including a 1-3 mark against Longhorns in 2010. The Tigers' last win over Texas came in game one of the 2010 Big 12 Tournament when they topped then No. 1-ranked Texas, 7-3, behind a strong start from Nick Tepesch. The last time the Tigers won a series over Texas came back in 2008 as Mizzou took two of three at Taylor Stadium, highlighted by a 13-2 win in the Saturday game that year.
Pitching Well Mizzou's pitching staff has been putting up great numbers over its last three-plus games as it has given up just one earned run in the last 33 innings and no earned runs in the last 18 innings of work. The Tigers gave up just a pair of unearned runs at Texas State on Wednesday and the last earned run that Mizzou's pitchers gave up was in the fourth inning of game two of the Oklahoma series last Friday.
A Little Extra Each of the Tigers' last two games have gone to extra innings and the Tigers have won both by using small-ball in the extra frames. Eric Garcia hit a walk-off seeing-eye single in the 11th inning against No. 7 Oklahoma last Friday and Conner Mach notched a two-out single through the left side in the 11th inning against Texas State on Wednesday. Mizzou is a perfect 3-0 in extra-inning games this season.
Grand Theft Base Mizzou continues to lead the Big 12 in stolen bases this season after swiping four at Texas State on Wednesday evening. Mizzou now has 55 steals this season, which is one more than Kansas State which currently ranks second in the Big 12. Three Tigers rank among the league's top 10 individuals in the stolen base department. Mizzou is ranked eighth nationally in steals.
Last Time Out
The Tigers topped Texas State, 3-2, on Wednesday after a two-out RBI single in the 11th inning by Conner Mach. The win improved the Tigers to 9-3 over their last 12 games as they have now won back-to-back extra-inning games. The win also moved the Tigers to 5-1 in night games this season, a good omen as they will open the Texas series with a 6 p.m. start.
Tiger Pitching Staff First During Big 12 Play
After holding Oklahoma to just one earned run in 20 innings last weekend, the Tiger pitching staff is ranked first in combined ERA in league games only this season. In fact, Mizzou owns a staff ERA of 0.45 after the first weekend of league play. Both Rob Zastryzny and Phil McCormick are tied for the league lead with an ERA of 0.00 after the first weekend of play as well. What is even more impressive about the Tigers' pitching staff last weekend is that the games came against Oklahoma, which came into the series as the Big 12's top offense and one of the nation's top hitting teams.
Pitching As of Late
Staying on the topic of pitching, the Tiger hurlers shined last week as nine of the 13 pitchers to throw last week did not give up an earned run. In fact, those nine pitchers combined to throw 26.1 innings of work last week while not allowing an earned run to cross the plate. Add Wednesday night's game to that in which eight Tiger hurlers combined to throw 11 innings without and earned run and the Tigers have been nearly flawless lately. Over the last 33 innings, Mizzou has allowed just one earned run and the Tigers have not let up an earned run in 18 straight innings as OU was the last team to do so, scoring in the fourth inning of game two of last Friday's doubleheader.
Mizzou earned its first walk-off victory of the season and its first walk-off win since April 25, 2010, last Friday as it topped No. 7 Oklahoma, 2-1, Friday night at Taylor Stadium. The game went 11 innings as it was an old fashioned pitcher's duel, but a seeing-eye single by Eric Garcia following a Jonah Schmidt triple was the difference in the game. The win was the Tigers' first over a top-10 team since May 26, 2010, when they upended then-ranked No. 1 Texas in the Big 12 Tournament. Mizzou added another extra-inning win on Wednesday as it topped Texas State, 3-2, in 11. The Tigers are 3-0 in extra-inning games this season.
Recapping the Homestand
Mizzou spent nearly the entire month of March at home as it played 17 home games from March 4-25. The Tigers went 10-7 in those games and put together a season-long six-game winning streak in the middle of the homestand. The 17-game schedule in March was originally slated to be 19 games, but inclement weather forced two games - against Illinois-Chicago and Oklahoma - to be cancelled. In all, Mizzou has won nine of its last 12 games
On the Road Again
As expected, after spending four weeks at home the Tigers will be away from Taylor Stadium for the next eight games, which include seven contests against Big 12 schools, including a pair of weekend series at Texas and Oklahoma State. The Tigers will also play at Kaufmann Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals, in a midweek title against arch rival Kansas in that span.
Tigers' Big Z
Freshman southpaw Rob Zastryzny put together arguably the best start by a Tiger pitcher so far this season last Friday against No. 7 Oklahoma. The frosh baffled OU hitters all night as he allowed no earned runs over 8.0 innings of work while walking just one batter and scattering six hits. He was a tough-luck loser as errors led to three unearned runs for the Sooners, but he struck out a career-best eight in the game and kept OU off balance through much of the game.
Zastryzny has emerged as Mizzou's Friday starter this season and is currently ranked seventh in the Big 12 with his team-leading 37.1 innings pitched this season. Not only that, but he is also ranked ninth in the league in opponent batting average in league games this season.
McCormick Continues to Shine
It is hard to argue against the fact that lefty reliever Phil McCormick has been the Tigers' best arm out of the bullpen this season. He leads the team and the Big 12 with 15 appearances this season and is ranked fifth in the league with his .188 opponent batting average this season (he is first in that department during league play at 0.77). He ranks third on the team with an ERA of 2.73 and he has 28 strikeouts in 26.1 innings pitched. He is tied for the team lead with three wins and also has a pair of saves on the season. He threw a season-best 4.1 innings in the Tigers' win over Oklahoma last Friday and gave up just one hit in those innings as he earned his third win of the year. He threw 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball on Wednesday at Texas State, pitching the Tigers out of a huge jam late in the game.
Emens Continues to Lead Team in ERA
Through the first 25 games this season, junior reliever Jeff Emens continues to lead the team in ERA with his 1.61 clip in nine appearances. He has given up just four earned runs in 22.1 innings of work this season. Emens won his first game of the season last Tuesday as he threw 3.0 innings of scoreless relief work in the win over UCA. The righty came into the season with an ERA north of 4.00, so his work this season has been a pleasant surprise as he has been one of the more consistent arms out of the pen. He has allowed just one earned run in his last six appearances and has nine strikeouts over 11.0 innings in those appearances. He threw 1.1 scoreless innings at Texas State Wednesday.
Smith Beginning to Impress
Freshman righty Myles Smith has been a great arm out of the bullpen for the Tigers as of late. In fact, he now boasts an ERA of 3.09 this season, which ranks him fourth on the team. He pitched a season-high 3.0 innings last Wednesday against UCA and gave up no earned runs while striking out a pair of Bear batters. He has not given up an earned run in seven straight appearances, which encompass 10.2 innings. He owns an 9/5 strikeout/walk ratio over those 10 innings as well. All four of the earned runs that Smith has given up this season came in his first collegiate appearance at Charlotte on Feb. 27.
Grand Theft Base
Mizzou continues to lead the Big 12 Conference in stolen bases this season with 55 through 25 games. The 55 steals are one more than the next-best team in the Big 12 (Kansas State, 54) and have the Tigers ranked eighth nationally in the stolen base department. They are also 10th nationally in steals per game.
More on Steals
Several Tigers rank among the league leaders in stolen bases as Blake Brown is third with 11 steals while Brannon Champagne is sixth overall with nine. Conner Mach is seventh with eight. Baylor's Brooks Pinckard leads the league with 24 steals in 26 games this season. Mizzou and Kansas State at the only teams to have three different players rank in the league's top 10 in the stolen base department.
Mach Ties School Record
Senior infielder Conner Mach matched the school record with his four steals in the first game of the Le Moyne doubleheader on March 12. He was perfect on four attempts and was the first Tiger to steal four bags in a single game since 1956. Seven of Mach's eight steals this season have come during the Tigers' current homestand.
Out Ahead Early
Staying on the topic of offense, the Tigers have been tagging opposing starters early and often in games as of late. In fact, Mizzou has scored 51 of its 134 runs this season in the first three innings of games, including 20 in the first inning of games alone. Mizzou has scored 41 of those 51 runs in its most recent homestand, which was 17 games, and is averaging 2.41 runs per game over the first three innings in that span. Keep in mind that most of those runs have come off of the opposition's starting pitchers.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Outfielder Blake Brown has put together an impressive stretch of games and is starting to find himself ranked among the league's top players in several Big 12 categories. In fact, he is third in the Big 12 with 20 walks this season and leads all players with a .667 on-base-percentage during Big 12 play. Not only that, but he is ranked third in the league with 11 stolen bases as well. His .452 OBP is also 11th in the conference this season.
Breakout Season For Champagne
Sophomore center fielder Brannon Champagne is enjoying a breakout season in his first year as a starter in 2011. He has started 23 of 24 games and leads the team in hits (28), runs (16), OBP (.453) and is second in stolen bases (nine) and total bases (32) and fourth in walks (12). His .326 average is also a team-best. Aside from that, he is fifth in the league with nine stolen bases and his .444 OBP has him ranked just outside the league's top 10 in that category.
Schmidt Continues to Be Tigers Top Power Hitter
Senior Jonah Schmidt continues to be the Tigers' top run-producer this season as he leads the team in RBI (15), slugging (.453) and total bases (43) while tying for the team lead with 29 hits. He had arguably the biggest hit of the Oklahoma series as he notched a two-out triple off the wall in right center in the 11th inning of the second game of the doubleheader. Eric Garcia drove him home in the very next at-bat, completing the walk-off win for Mizzou. He leads the team with nine extra-base hits in 2011 as well. His .400 batting average in league play has him ranked ninth in the league and his .600 slugging percentage is fifth among Big 12 players during league play.
Sophomore first baseman Scott Sommerfeld put together an impressive showing in Mizzou's four games last week. He led the team with a .455 batting average and tallied a team-high three RBI on the week. He also boasted a team-best .600 OPB and .545 slugging percentage in the four games. He posted a pair of multi-hit games against Central Arkansas, going 3-4 with a pair of runs scored and three RBI in game one and 2-3 with two runs scored in game two. He has raised his average from .268 to .297 over the last seven games.
Tigers to Play in Two Major League Stadiums
The Tigers have two games scheduled in two Major League stadiums during the 2011 season. Once again, Mizzou will play in both of the MLB stadiums in Missouri, starting with a March 29 contest against Illinois at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. One week later, Mizzou will face Kansas in a non-conference game at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals on April 6. This will mark the third-straight year that Missouri has played at Busch Stadium and the fourth year that Mizzou and Kansas will meet at Kauffman Stadium.
Milestone for Jamieson
Head coach Tim Jamieson earned his 550th career win when the Tigers topped the Le Moyne Dolphins, 4-2, in the second game of a doubleheader at Taylor Stadium. He is second on the all-time coaching list at Mizzou behind only Tiger legend Gene McArtor (733 wins). Jamieson has not had a losing season at Mizzou since 2002, one of only two during his 16 years at Mizzou.
Jamieson to Lead Team USA
Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson will lead the 2011 Collegiate National Team, as announced by USA Baseball back in November. He will be joined by pitching coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) and assistant coaches Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) and Scott Stricklin (Kent State).
Jamieson and Walton made their Team USA debuts together on the 2005 Collegiate National Team coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach and the pitching coach, respectively, for manager Steve Smith of Baylor. Van Horn and Stricklin will both be wearing the red, white and blue for the first time.
"We are thrilled to announce Tim Jamieson as our 2011 manager," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball General Manager of National Teams. "His experience from 2005 -- coaching players like David Price, Matt Wieters and Matt LaPorta -- will serve him well, and teaming him with Dave Van Horn, Scott Stricklin and Rob Walton will provide our athletes with a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best college coaches in the game. Once again, the college coaching community has rallied around the Collegiate National Team program."
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 48 players sign professional contracts and 57 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. Kinsler has been one of the most underrated players in the MLB over the past several seasons and maybe had his best year in 2009, slugging 31 home runs while driving in 86 runs and swiping 31 bags, doing so in just 144 games. Scherzer went 12-11 last year with a 3.50 ERA and 184 strikeouts in 195.2 innings pitched. Those two along with the likes of Kyle Gibson and Aaron Crow - who are both seeing success in the minor leagues - should likely give Mizzou a presence in the major leagues for years to come.
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 21st season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his first year as part of the MU broadcast team.
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2011 is available at mutigers.com as part of Mizzou All-Access. All-Access is the Tiger fans home to 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.
Mizzou will return to the Show-Me State to play Kansas at Kaufmann Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals, on Tuesday (April 6) before departing for Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State in a three-game series. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.