April 3, 2013
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
After a span of five consecutive games in the state of Missouri, the Mizzou baseball team will return to the road to face a Georgia team that sits at 11-19 overall and 1-8 in SEC play. The Tigers bring a 9-16 mark into Athens and a 2-7 clip in league play. The series will commence Friday at 6 p.m. (CT) and the Saturday game of the series will air live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. (CT). The series finale will be contested Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT).
Series History This weekend will mark the first-ever games played between Mizzou and Georgia. So far this season, Mizzou owns a 2-4 mark against teams from the SEC East (1-2 vs. South Carolina, 1-2 vs. Tennessee) while Mizzou is a lifetime 40-43-1 against the 12 teams that comprised the SEC last season. If you add Texas A&M into that mix, a team that Mizzou is very familiar with after their days in the Big 12, Mizzou is 74-85-1 against SEC teams.
Georgia on My Mind As the Tigers head to Athens this weekend, the trip will be a homecoming for several Tiger players as three on the current roster call Georgia home. Junior starting catcher Dylan Kelly grew up an hour and 22 minutes from Athens in Roswell, Ga. Senior infielder Michael McGraw calls Newnan, Ga., home, a town that is half an hour southwest of Atlanta and about two hours from Athens. Freshman infielder Josh Lester grew up in Columbus, Ga., and of course is well known in the state of Georgia after being one of the key figures on the Columbus team that won the 2006 Little League World Series. Lester and his teammates were recognized at an Atlanta Braves game after their win. Columbus is about two hours south of Atlanta and three hours from Athens.
Notables on the Georgia Boys
Dylan Kelly (Roswell, Ga.) - Leads the team in hitting, RBI and extra-base hits and is second in OBP and slugging ... Has caught 20 of 25 games this season for Mizzou.
Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) - Leads the team with seven hits w/ RISP ... Second on the team in RBI ... Helped Columbus, Ga., win the 2006 Little League World Series
Michael McGraw (Newnan, Ga.) - Has played in 12 games this season, starting nine ... Three of his five hits this season have gone for extra bases.
Last Time Out
Mizzou lost for the first time ever at the new Busch Stadium, falling to Illinois, 6-2, on Tuesday night. Prior to the game, Mizzou had won six straight over its Big Ten rival and had been 3-0 in games played at Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Mizzou had defeated SLU in 2009 and then Illinois in both 2010 and 2012 at Busch before losing Tuesday.
Sophomore righty Jace James took the loss for Mizzou after going 5.0 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs (only three earned). He was good until giving up three runs in the sixth on three straight hits as he ran out of gas. The three earned runs in the game matched his total allowed from his previous eight appearances combined. Jake Ivory had a double and a run in the game and Josh Lester had the lone RBI on the day for the Tigers on an RBI single to center in the fourth inning.
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 weekend an 18-game streak in which he has reached base safely after reaching base in all three games against LSU over the weekend and vs. Illinois Tuesday. 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
Starters Continue to Impress
Hitting a team-best .354 in 65 at-bats with a team-best slugging % (.492) and OBP (.443).
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 23 hits in those 18 games and has eight multi-hit games.
Also has a pair of multi-RBI games in that span as well.
The Tiger starting pitchers have been the highlight of the season so far in 2013. In fact, in 25 games, the Tiger starters own a 2.71 ERA. Below are notables on the Tiger starting pitching this season.
Notbales on Starters
In the SEC Rankings
Mizzou starters have allowed just two earned runs or less in 18 of 25 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 18 of 25 starts.
Mizzou starters have combined to throw 129.2 innings this season, nearly 65-percent of Mizzou's innings.
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.
Tigers Not Allowing Doubles, Walks
1st - HBP (SEC games) - 17
1st - Doubles allowed (SEC games) - 4
2nd - HBP (all games) - 48
2nd - Hits allowed (all games) - 202
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
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 2.89. In that time, Mizzou has allowed just 53 earned runs in 165.1 innings pitched and has walked just 60 batters in those 165.1 innings, meaning Mizzou pitchers have walked just one batter every three innings over the last 19 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 3.42 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 and is on the active 40-man roster.
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 .345, a mark that ranks econd 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 (.345), doubles (six), RBI (15), is second in slugging (.452), total bases (38) and 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 15 games. Since returning to the lineup, Everett has hit .228 with six runs and seven RBI with a pair of doubles in 15 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 .968 fielding percentage with just two errors against 19 putouts and 42 assists in that span. In fact, Everett's presence on the infield has helped shore up the defense, which has a .964 mark since his return. In the 10 games prior to his return, Mizzou owned just a .955 clip.
Ivory Getting His Chance
Over the last six games, sophomore Jake Ivory has seen an increased role with the team as he has started in four of those six games while putting together some impressive numbers. After losing a close battle at the catcher position to Dylan Kelly in the preseason, the Tiger coaching staff has found a way to get his bat into the lineup and the move has paid off. Over his last six games, Ivory is hitting .353 with six hits in 17 at-bats and has three doubles and four RBI in that span. He is slugging .529 as well with an OBP of .421 in that span. He has hit .500 with runners in scoring position in that span and three of his four RBI have come on two-out hits in that span.
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 .438 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.
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 at in-state rival Missouri State on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Springfield before heading to Vanderbilt for a three-game series. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.