Tigers Set for Braggin' Rights at Busch Stadium

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April 1, 2013

Series: Mizzou (9-15) vs. Illinois (17-7)
When April 2, 2013 |  6:30 p.m.
Location St. Louis, Mo.| Busch Stadium
Tickets Purchase Here
TV None
Radio KTGR - 103.1 FM, 100.5 FM, 1580 AM
Online Coverage Listen Live (Free) | Gametracker
Printable Game Notes Missouri
Season Stats MissouriIllinois
Series History Mizzou leads, 12-10
Last Meeting 2012 - 5-4, Mizzou win
Streak Mizzou - Won 6
Social Media @MUTigerBaseball, @MUTigersOnDeck  | Mizzou Network 

FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
Mizzou and Illinois will play in the annual Braggin' Rights at Busch Stadium Game on Tuesday (April 2) at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the game remain on sale and can be purchased online through the St. Louis Cardinals website at STLCardinals.com.

Busch Stadium History • Tuesday's contest will mark the third game in the series between Mizzou and Illinois and the fourth overall appearance at Busch Stadium for Mizzou. In all, Mizzou is 3-0 inside Busch Stadium in history. In 2009, Mizzou scored 19 runs in a 19-6 win over SLU despite falling behind, 3-0, in that game. In 2010, the Tigers and Illini met for the first time at Busch with Mizzou claiming a 7-4 victory and last year, Mizzou won 5-4 after a great start from St. Louis native Brett Graves, who was drafted by the Cardinals out of high school.

    Notables at Busch Stadium
    • Mizzou is hitting .314 as a team in three career games at Busch Stadium.
    • The Tigers have never lost a game at Busch Stadium, putting a 3-0 record on the line Tuesday.
    • Mizzou of course is 2-0 against Illinois at Busch as well.
    • In three career games at Busch Stadium, Mizzou has scored 31 runs.
    • In those three games, Mizzou has also walked 33 times (11 per game).
    • Of the Tigers' 35-man roster, 11 grew up in the St. Louis area.

    Notables on Batter/Pitchers at Busch Stadium
    • Only one current Tiger pitcher - Brett Graves - has pitched at Busch Stadium
    • Graves earned the win, going 6.0 innings while allowing four ERs and striking out a career-high seven.
    • Current Tiger batters are a combined 7-for-25 at Busch Stadium as five batters have played there.
    Dane Opel and Michael McGraw each have three hits at Busch Stadium as each went 3-for-5 last year.
    Scott Sommerfeld, a Manchester, Mo., native, is the only other Tiger with a hit at Busch.
    • McGraw, Opel and Sommerfeld have also combined for two career runs and two career RBI at Busch.

Series History • The Tigers hold a slight two-game advantage over Illinois in the all-time series at 12-10. This will mark the Tigers' and Illini's third meeting at Busch Stadium with Mizzou winning the last two, including a 5-4 decision last season. Mizzou has won the last six meetings with Illinois and is 5-0 under Tim Jamieson.

Last Time Out
Mizzou's bats, which had posted 24 extra-base hits in the previous six games heading into the weekend, were quieted by No. 2 LSU as the visiting Tigers swept Mizzou at Taylor Stadium. Mizzou was limited to just five runs and 21 hits over the three games while it notched just one extra-base hit while hitting just 3-for-22 with runners in scoring position over the weekend.

LSU won game one of the series, 2-0, despite a marvelous pitching outing from lefty starter Rob Zastryzny, who for the second straight week and third time this season got no offensive run support. The Tigers were then roughed up by four LSU homers on Saturday, dropping an 8-0 decision after a five-hour rain delay. The Tigers then ran out to a 5-1 lead on Sunday before LSU rallied with five runs in the top of the third before shutting the Mizzou lineup down to take a 6-5 win.

Tough Luck for Zastryzny
Despite pitching really well so far this season, junior lefty Rob Zastryzny doesn't exactly have the record to reflect that thus far this season. At 1-5, Zastryzny has been on the wrong end of some tough luck as Mizzou has scored just nine runs in his six starts (1.5 per game) and has been shut out three times and in two straight weeks.

Over his last four starts, Zastryzny has been lights out. In those four starts unfortunately, he is just 1-3 but has incredible numbers. He owns a 2.37 ERA in 30.1 of a possible 35.0 innings pitched with one complete game. He has 31 strikeouts against just eight walks and has allowed just eight earned runs in that span. In his two home SEC starts against top-10 South Carolina and LSU, Zastryzny is 0-2 but owns a 1.84 ERA as he has allowed just 12 hits in that span while striking out 17 against just three walks against two of the nation's best teams.

Steele Becoming a Strikeout Machine
Coming into the season, it was well-known that Tiger righty Keaton Steele had electric stuff, but it took him some time to get going as he was roughed up for four runs in just 0.2 innings pitched in his first Division I outing. But since that time, he has been lights out, posting a 1.25 ERA in seven appearances, including one start. In that span, Steele has struck out 24 batters in 21.2 innings and owns 25 strikeouts this season in 22.1 innings pitched as he leads the team in strikeouts/9.0. Two of his best outings of the season came against top-10 LSU and South Carolina - in those outings he is 1-1 with a perfect ERA and 14 strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched against two of the better teams in the country.

Opel Owns Career-Best Streak
Senior Dane Opel carries into this week a 17-game streak in which he has reached base safely after reaching base in all three games against LSU over the weekend. It is the longest such streak by a Tiger this season, and is the longest of his career, topping his previous best of 14 games, set his freshman year.

    Notables on Opel During Streak
    • Hitting a team-best .367 in 60 at-bats with a team-best slugging % (.517) and OBP (.459).
    • Has driven in 10 runs and scored a team-best 13 runs in that span.
    • Has five extra-base hits including three doubles and two homers.
    • Been issued 12 free passes (eight walks, four HBP) in that span.
    • Leads Mizzou with 22 hits in those 17 games and has eight multi-hit games.
    • Also has a pair of multi-RBI games in that span as well.

Starters Continue to Impress
The Tiger starting pitchers have been the highlight of the season so far in 2013. In fact, in 24 games, the Tiger starters own a 2.60 ERA and that mark is a miniscule 2.17 in the last 18 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 18 of 24 starts this season.
    • Seven of those 18 outings have been shutout starts as well.
    • A Mizzou starter has not allowed more than two ERs in 16 of 19 starts.
    • Mizzou starters have combined to throw 124.2 innings this season, nearly 65-percent of Mizzou's innings.

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.
    Notable Rankings
    • 1st - HBP (SEC games) - 17
    • 1st - Doubles allowed (SEC games) - 4
    • 2nd - HBP (all games) - 45
    • 2nd - Hits allowed (all games) - 191
    • 2nd - Doubles (SEC games) - 17
    • 3rd - Batters Kd Looking (SEC games) - 23
    • 4th - Walks allowed (SEC games) - 30
    • 5th - ERs allowed (SEC games) - 30
    • 6th - ERA (SEC games) - 3.40
Tigers Not Allowing Doubles, Walks
Heading into Tuesday's contest with Illinois, Mizzou's pitching has been the strength of the team and the numbers back it up. In fact, Mizzou has allowed the fewest doubles of any SEC team in league games this season with just four in nine contests. Also, Mizzou has walked just 27 batters in SEC play this season, the fourth-best mark in the SEC. Pitching coach Matt Hobbs prides his staff's ability to not issue walks, dating back to his days at San Francisco when his staff finished the season ranked second in the WCC in walks and the Tigers have adopted that mentality in his third season.

ERA Much Better Since Opening Two Weeks
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 2.88. In that time, Mizzou has allowed just 50 earned runs in 156.1 innings pitched and has walked just 58 batters in those 156.1 innings, meaning Mizzou pitchers have walked just one batter every three innings over the last 18 games. Only Kentucky, South Carolina and LSU, all top-15 teams, have issued fewer walks than the Tigers this season among SEC teams.

In all this season, Mizzou now owns a 3.88 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.

Four Former Tigers Earn Spots on Opening Day Rosters
With Monday (April 1) being Opening Day for Major League Baseball, Tiger fans will see three former Tigers on active big league Opening Day rosters. The three that most have grown accustomed to - Ian Kinsler with the Texas Rangers, Aaron Crow with the Kansas City Royals and Max Scherzer with the Detroit Tigers - were joined by former Tiger Nick Tepesch, who joins Kinsler in Texas as the No. 5 starter for the Rangers this season. The Tigers were close to having five players as former All-American Kyle Gibson made the active 40-man roster for the Minnesota Twins before being sent down to Triple A.

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 .363, a mark that ranks 10th in the SEC and second among SEC catchers. Kelly hit his first career Division I homer at Tennessee, sending a three-run shot over the scoreboard in right field. He leads the team in batting (.363), doubles (six), slugging (.475), RBI (15) and total bases (38), is second in OBP (.427) and is fourth 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 after a broken hand and has now started at short in the last 14 games. Since returning to the lineup, Everett has hit .222 with six runs and seven RBI with a pair of doubles in 14 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 .982 fielding percentage with just one error against 18 putouts and 38 assists in that span. In fact, Everett's presence on the infield has helped shore up the defense, which has a .970 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 10 errors (in 14 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.

Walsh is the Tigers' Ironman
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 13 of 24 games this season and has been trotted out in eight of the last 12 games for Mizzou and has been lights over the last 12 games. In 9.0 innings pitched in his last eight appearances in that span, Walsh has an ERA of 1.00 with 11 strikeouts against just three walks.

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 18 free passes (10 walks, eight hit-by-pitch) in the first 24 games. In fact, his 18 free bases coupled with his .338 average so far give him a team-best .450 on-base percentage. Opel's career-high for OBP in a season is just .386 as a freshman in 2010.

Great Debut For Keeton
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.

Mizzou Network
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.

Up Next
The Tigers will play a three-game series at Georgia starting Friday. Saturday's game will air live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. (CT). For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

 

 

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