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First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will continue its season this week as it will play arch rival Kansas in a mid-week contest at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., which is the home of Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals. The game with Kansas does not count towards the team's Big 12 Conference records this season.
Big League Ballpark The Tigers clash with the Jayhawks at 'The K' will mark the first time that Mizzou will play at a major league ballpark this season. Mizzou was slated to play two games at major league parks this season, but rain in St. Louis last Tuesday postponed the Tigers' battle with Illinois at Busch Stadium.
Series History Mizzou leads the all-time series with Kansas, 212-127-2, after dropping all four meetings with the Jayhawks last season, including a 1-0 loss at Kauffman. Mizzou is 0-3 all-time against Kansas at Kauffman Stadium since the series inception.
Grand Theft Heading into Wednesday's game with Kansas, the Tigers continue to lead the league in stolen bases with 57 through 28 games this season. Mizzou is tied with K-State for the league lead and Baylor is one behind at 56.
Tigers Touch Up Jungmann Mizzou's offense got to Texas starter Taylor Jungmann last Friday as it tagged the UT ace for four runs (three earned). The four runs that the Tigers scored off of Jungmann were the most that he has given up all season and Tiger outfielder Jonah Schmidt became the first player to homer off of him all season as he launched a two-run bomb over the left centerfield wall. Jugmann came into the game with a Big 12-best ERA of 0.52.
McCormick Cracks the Top 15 Tiger lefty reliever Phil McCormick has been making noise this season with his durability, but his numbers are proving why he is so reliable. In fact, the lefty cracked the league's top 15 in ERA this week as he is 14th in the Big 12 with his 2.93 ERA. Meanwhile, his .200 opponent batting average is fifth-best in the Big 12 this season and he continues to rank first in the league with 17 appearances this season.
Mizzou went 1-3 last week but it could have easily been a 3-1 week for the Tigers who topped Texas State, 3-2, in 11 innings last Wednesday, before being swept in a three-game series at No. 8 Texas. The sweep could have easily been a two-game series win for Mizzou, who had a shot at winning both the first and second games of the series.
Opel's Bat Heating Up
Sophomore outfielder/designated hitter Dane Opel has been swinging a hot bat as of late and that was evident last week as he led Mizzou with a .364 average while tallying three extra-base hits while slugging .727 and boasting an OBP of .462. He played in three of the four games last week and was arguably the most consistent bat all week long.
Fick Earns First win of the Season
Senior lefty Kelly Fick earned his first win of the season at Texas State last Wednesday. Fick threw the final 2.0 innings of the 11-inning game and kept the score tied at 2-2 before the Tigers plated the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th. He threw the final inning of the game and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to earn the win. Fick came into the season with the best ERA of returning Tigers, so seeing him earn his first win of the season is a great sign for the Tigers.
Schmidt Homers Again
Senior outfielder Jonah Schmidt hit his third homerun of the season in the Tigers' loss at Texas last Friday evening. His two-run shot was the first home run hit off of Texas ace Taylor Jungmann all season long and it snapped a 14-game homerless span for the Tigers. Schmidt now leads the Tigers in hitting (.305), hits (32), slugging (.476), extra-base hits (50) and RBI (18) while ranking second on the team in runs (15).
Not only that, but Schmidt is hitting really well in the Tigers' five Big 12 games this season. He is hitting .350 while slugging .650 accounting for 13 total bases and four RBI, the latter of the three are all team-bests. He is fifth among all Big 12 players in slugging in league games alone this season.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Since the start of Big 12 play, outfielder Blake Brown has made getting on base look very easy. In fact, he has reached base in half of his plate appearances in Big 12 play (.500 OBP) as he ranks third among Big 12 players in league games. He is one of only three hitters in the league to have an OBP of .500 or better and he is hitting a team-best .353 in Big 12 games this season. In all, his 21 walks this season rank him third in the Big 12 this season.
In Big 12 play, Brown is leading the team in hitting at .353 and is slugging .471 with a pair of RBI. He tallied his first three-hit game of the season last Friday at Texas, including an RBI triple off of Taylor Jungmann.
On the Road Again
For the second straight week, the Mizzou baseball team will spend the majority of its week away from home, starting with Wednesday's game at Kaufman Stadium. Following the midweek contest, Mizzou will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for a three-game Big 12 series with Oklahoma State. Mizzou is in the middle of a season-long eight-game road trip.
Tigers' Big Z
Freshman southpaw Rob Zastryzny has emerged as the Tigers' top starter this season as he boasts a team-best 3.21 ERA among Tiger starters this season. His best start of the season came against Oklahoma two weeks ago when he threw 8.0 innings without allowing a single run against one of the league's top offenses. He also leads the team in strikeouts (35) and ranks second in innings pitched (42.0). His two wins on the year also rank him second on the team.
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 17 appearances this season and is ranked fifth in the league with his .200 opponent batting average this season (he is seventh in that department during league play at .185). He ranks second on the team with an ERA of 2.93 and he has 29 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched. He is tied for the team lead with three wins and also has a pair of saves on the season.
What is even more impressive for McCormick is that despite being a late reliever, he is still ranks third on the team in innings pitched this season. He is on pace to break his own school record in appearances this season as he has been the Tigers' most reliable arm out of the pen. He is also striking out batters at a very high rate this season, averaging 8.51 Ks per nine innings pitched this season, which is the top mark on the team in 2011.
Emens Continues to Lead Team in ERA
Through the first 28 games this season, junior reliever Jeff Emens continues to lead the team in ERA with his 2.13 clip in 12 appearances. He has given up just six earned runs in 25.1 innings of work this season. Emens won his first game of the season on March 22 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 three earned runs in his last eight appearances (13 innings).
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 3.14 this season, which ranks him second on the team. He pitched a season-high 3.0 innings against UCA and gave up no earned runs while striking out a pair of Bear batters. He has given up just one earned run in eight straight appearances, and that came at No. 8 Texas last weekend. He has an ERA of just 0.68 over his last eight appearances, giving up just one earned run in 13.1 innings of work.
Grand Theft Base
Mizzou continues to lead the Big 12 Conference in stolen bases this season with 57 through 28 games. The 57 steals are tied for the league lead with Kansas State. Mizzou stole six bags on nine attempts last week, highlighted by a perfect 4-4 week from shortstop Jesse Santo. Eric Garcia and Blake Brown also picked up steals for the Tigers on the week.
More on Steals
Blake Brown is the only Tiger to rank in the league's top 10 in the stolen base department (he ranks fourth with 11 this season), showing that the speed on the base paths has been a team approach. In fact, five different players have at least seven steals this season for Mizzou. Brannon Champagne has nine, both Jesse Santo and Conner Mach have eight while Eric Garcia has seven.
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.
Walk This Way
A pair of Tigers rank in the Big 12's top 10 in walks this season. Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown is tied for third in the Big 12 with 21 walks and sophomore infielder Eric Garcia is ranked fifth with 19. Texas and Mizzou are the only two teams to have two players ranked in the top 10 and Mizzou is the only school to have two ranked in the league's top five.
Over the past several weeks, the Tiger starting lineup has appeared to become more concrete and one things is apparent when looking at that lineup - the Tigers are young. Mizzou has started as many as seven sophomores as position players this season and the Tigers' Friday starter is a true freshman. Seven sophomores have seen regular playing time this season and six are considered starters. Six of the Tigers' top eight hitters this season are sophomores and Mizzou starts just two senior position players this season.
Mach Continues to Start
Junior infielder Conner Mach continues to be a staple in the Tiger lineup this season as he is the only player to have started all 28 games for Mizzou this season. Of those 28 games, he has hit in the three or four-hole in 23 as he has been one of the Tigers' top bats all season. He has split time at both second and third base this season but has emerged as the starting third baseman as of late.
Stites Throws Complete Game
Junior starter Matt Stites threw the first complete game of the season for the Tigers in a 5-2 loss at No. 8 Texas last Saturday. With the complete game, Stites now ranks eighth in the Big 12 in innings pitched this season with 43.1. Rob Zastryzny, Mizzou's Friday starter, ranks 10th in the league with 42.0 innings pitched this season. Mizzou and Texas A&M are the only two schools to have two pitchers rank in the league's top 10 in innings pitched this season.
Ross Throwing Well Lately
Junior reliever Dusty Ross has been pitching well as of late as he has now appeared in 13 games out of the bullpen for the Tigers. Those 13 appearances have him ranked eighth in the Big 12 while his 3.95 ERA currently ranks fifth on the team. He has not given up an earned run in his last four appearances and has given up just three in his last eight appearances, spanning 9.2 innings.
McCormick, Zastryzny Among Top Pitchers in League Play
Both Phil McCormick and Rob Zastryzny rank among the league's top pitchers in Big 12 games this season. McCormick's 2.08 ERA in league games has him ranked ninth in the Big 12 while Zastryzny's 2.84 ERA has him ranked 13th. Of the four relievers on that list, McCormick owns the best opponent batting average at .185. The next-best mark is .200 by Evan Marshall of K-State.
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 road for a Big 12 series at Oklahoma State this weekend. The Tigers and Cowboys will play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday before playing day games at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.