Mizzou Continues SEC Play at No. 15 Kentucky



April 9, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (15-16, 4-8 SEC) at #15 Kentucky (22-11, 6-6 SEC)
When   Friday - 5:30 p.m. | Saturday - 6 p.m. | Sunday - Noon
Location Lexington, Ky. | Cliff Hagan Stadium
Tickets Click Here
TV FSS/CWKYT - Saturday and Sunday
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT - Sunday
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | Kentucky
Series History Series Tied, 2-2
Last Meeting Mizzou took two of three in Columbia last season
Streak Mizzou - Lost 1
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

Winners of two straight, the Mizzou baseball team will head to No. 15 Kentucky to face National Player of the Year favorite AJ Reed and the Wildcats for a three-game SEC series. Game one will be at 5:30 p.m. (CT) on Friday. Saturday's contest will be at 6 p.m. (CT) before a get-away start time of noon (CT) on Sunday.

Of course, Friday's matchup pits two of the SEC's top pitchers against one another as Mizzou's Brett Graves and UK's AJ Reed will battle. Graves ranks seventh in the SEC in innings pitches (54.2) and checks in at eighth in strikeouts (45). Reed leads the league with his six wins and is fifth in innings pitched (56.0) as he and Graves are arguably two of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB Draft. Last year, Graves earned a win over UK, going 5.0 innings, allowing just three hits and one unearned run while fanning three. Reed pitched that game as well and Mizzou tagged him for nine hits and four earned runs over 4.1 innings as he took the loss.

Pitching has been the name of the game for the Tigers this season. In fact, under fourth-year pitching coach Matt Hobbs, the Tigers rank third nationally in walks allowed per nine (2.07) and lead the SEC in walks allowed (64). Also, Mizzou averages 3.42 strikeouts per every walk, a mark that ranks fourth nationally and tops in the SEC.

Second baseman Shane Segovia had three of Mizzou's (15-16) five doubles on Tuesday night (April 8) to set the tone as the Tigers claimed a 9-4 win over in-state rival Missouri State (13-16) at Taylor Stadium. The senior infielder also scored three times and registered one RBI. As a whole, Mizzou tallied a season-high 15 hits in the contest with six batters claiming multiple hits against the Bears. Jake Ring had a career day at the dish with three RBI in the contest, scoring once.

Dillon Everett and Logan Pearson each had two RBI in the midweek contest, giving the bottom four hitters in the order seven RBI in the game. Pearson also scored twice in the Mizzou win, keeping the Tigers a perfect 5-0 in midweek games at Taylor Stadium this season. Starting pitcher Peter Fairbanks went a career-best six innings, striking out four hitters and taking the win to improve to 3-2 on the year.

Tuesday's win was big for the Tigers who had been struggling offensively. In the 9-4 win, Mizzou posted season-highs in hits (15) and doubles (five) while Shane Segovia became the second Tiger to hit three doubles in a single game this season, joining Eric Anderson. Before that, Mizzou hadn't accomplished that since 2010. Mizzou also plated five runs in the fifth, their second-largest scoring inning this season.

The #15 Wildcats come into this week defeating #25 Florida two of three at home, dropping Saturday's game 11-10 after a 10 run rally by the Cats after trailing 9-0. The nine unanswered runs may have been from the 17-1 loss Kentucky handed the Gators on Friday night. Kentucky also had a very impressive series win against #4 South Carolina earlier this season, but dropped two of three at #7 Vanderbilt. The Cats as a team lead the SEC in almost all offensive statistical categories. They are led by recent SEC and national player of the week A.J. Reed. Reed's numbers are almost all team leading, hoisting a .377 average, 39 RBIs, and 12 home runs. With SEC leading 284 runs scored and 30 home runs, look for Reed and the rest of the Wildcats' bats to be in full effect this weekend against the Tigers. Friday night will be a great pitching matchup as A.J. Reed will take the mound against Graves and the Tigers with a record of 6-1 and a 1.93 ERA.

This will be the Tigers first visit to Lexington to take on the Wildcats. In 2013, Kentucky visited the Tigers for the last series of the season, as the Tigers took two of three to clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament. Eric Anderson and Brett Graves both started the games that the Tigers won. Anderson went 7.1 innings with 4 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts on Friday night to lock up the Tigers' spot in Hoover. The Tigers also gave A.J. Reed his 8th loss of the year in game one of the series, scoring 4 runs in 4.1 innings pitched. The season finale was taken by the Wildcats 5-1, as they took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth and added a few insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a three-run homer.

After a single season in the Southeastern Conference, here's a look at some Tiger pitchers against the Wildcats.

    - Brett Graves started one game vs. Kentucky with an ERA of 1.80 in 5 innings, giving up two runs on three hits and striking out three. He earned the win.

    - John Miles gave up one run on three hits in 1.1 innings last year against Kentucky.

    - Eric Anderson had a single appearance against Kentucky in 2013 with an ERA of 3.68 in 7.1 IP, striking out four and giving up three runs in a no decision before the Tiger won.

    - Griffin Goodrich threw four innings vs. Kentucky in one appearance, giving up one run on five hits with no walks for an ERA of 2.25.

    - Keaton Steele appeared twice against Kentucky, striking out four and giving up no runs on two hits and one walk, spanning 3.0 shutout innings.

Mizzou has played one series vs. Kentucky in 2013. Below are some notables.

    - Shane Segovia boasted a .667 avg. in his three starts vs. Kentucky with six hits and three RBIs. He has two doubles against UK.

    - Dylan Kelly put up a .273 avg. in his 11 plate appearances vs. Kentucky, with three hits, one run, and one RBI.

    - Josh Lester posted two runs and an RBI on three hits to hold a .250 avg. against the Wildcats. He has a pair of doubles against UK.

    - Jake Ivory scored one run with one hit and two walks in two starts vs. Kentucky.

    - Keaton Steele hit .444 with a homer, two runs and two more driven in. He had the game-winning shot in the Friday game that clinched Mizzou a spot in the SEC Tournament.

Under the direction of pitching coach Matt Hobbs, the Tiger hurlers have done a great job limiting walks this season. In fact, the Tigers lead the SEC in walks allowed with just 64, 18 ahead of second-place South Carolina which has 82. The Tigers rank third nationally and first in the SEC with their miniscule 2.07 BB/9 average. Only Cal State Fullerton (1.48) and Houston (1.56) rank ahead of the Tigers and both teams are in the top-25 in all four of major polls.

Aside from ranking third nationally in walks per nine innings, the Tigers also rank in the top-10 in strikeout-walk ratio. In fact, Hobbs' hurlers rank fourth nationally at 3.42, a mark that ranks first in the pitching-heavy SEC.

Fifth year senior Eric Anderson made his presence felt last Sunday against Georgia, helping Mizzou snap a four-game losing streak. It was a career-best start for the ironman as he tossed a complete game, striking out 12 against no walks with just six hits and two earned runs. The last time a Mizzou pitcher fanned 10 or more was Rob Zastryzny vs. Auburn on April 26, 2013. Anderson tossed first pitch strikes to 31 of 34 batters. The senior hurler threw 85 of his 118 total pitches for strikes, holding the Bulldogs to two runs in nine innings on the mound. The complete game marks the longest outing of his career. The last time a Tiger finished a complete game was Zastryzny at Georgia on April 5, 2013. Anderson earned his first win since May 25, 2011 when he worked through seven solid innings in a victory over the Texas Longhorns.

Mizzou junior closer Keaton Steele ranks 20th nationally and third in the SEC with his seven saves this season. He is just five back of the Mizzou single season record (12). In his seven saves, Steele has been virtually untouchable. He has a 0.00 ERA in 11.1 innings with a 0.61 WHIP in those seven outings.

The bullpen trio of Keaton Steele, Breckin Williams and Austin Tribby has been as good as any trio in the SEC this season. In fact, the three have combined for a 2.22 ERA in 69.0 innings pitched and a 2.80 strikeout/walk ratio. The trio also has a 1.15 combined WHIP, nine saves and two wins. Williams and Tribby were not used in the weekend series against Georgia, marking the first time all season that one of those two was not used in a weekend series this season. Williams and Tribby (1.11 and 1.69) both sport ERAs under 2.00. Mizzou has not had a regular reliever finish a season with an ERA lower than 2.00 since Ryan Gargano in 2007.

Another key to the Tigers' success over the last 22 games has been the emergence of a leadoff hitter as fifth-year senior Eric Anderson has been very good at the top of the order. He became the first player under Tim Jamieson to hit in the leadoff spot while starting a game on the mound as well, doing so in his last two pitching starts. In his last 21 games in the leadoff spot, Anderson is hitting .329 with an OBP of .418 while slugging .524. He has scored a team-high 19 runs and driven in nine more in that span. He was the first Tiger since 2010 to tally three doubles in a game and has reached base to leadoff a game in 13 of the last 21 games and is reaching base at a .537 clip when leading off an inning. He hit in the two hole on Saturday against UGA but still reached base in his first plate appearance, making it 14 for the last 22 games in which he has reached in the first inning.

So far this season, pitching coach Matt Hobbs has relied heavily on sophomore lefty Austin Tribby as the team's most-used bullpen arm. He leads the team and is first in the SEC with 20 appearances despite not pitching last weekend against Georgia. In fact, he is leading the team in opponent batting average at .145. Six of his team-leading 19 appearances have been to get one batter - usually a lefty - out. He leads the Tigers in ERA at 1.69 and has struck out 18 batters against just six walks, allowing eight hits in 16.0 IP.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 3.42 strikeouts per every walk. The strikeout-walk ratio has been a staple of pitching Coach Matt Hobbs as he works with Tiger pitchers. Since he took over the Tiger pitchers in 2011, the Tigers have seen their strikeout-to-walk ratio improve from 1.92 in 2011 to 2.25 last season and seen even better this year with the 3.42 clip.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 219-64 - 3.42
    2013: 342-152 - 2.25
    2012: 352-193 - 1.82
    2011: 409-213 - 1.92

When looking more into the Tiger pitching staff this season, it is easy to see where the point of emphasis from Coach Hobbs has been placed - limiting walks. So far this season, Mizzou is averaging just 2.07 walks per nine innings, by far the best clip during Hobbs' four-year tenure at Mizzou. In fact, since his first year, he has seen that number shrink from 3.70 in 2011 to 3.11 last season and the minuscule 2.07 this season. In Mizzou's first inning against Cincinnati, the Tigers had a streak of 32 innings without a walk snapped.

    Yr. BB/9
    2011: 3.70
    2012: 3.24
    2013: 3.11
    2014: 2.07

Junior righty Brett Graves was named the No. 22 collegiate prospect in the nation by PerfectGame.org. He is the No. 4 SEC player on the list, following Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede, LSU's Aaron Nola and Kentucky's AJ Reed.

This year, the Mizzou baseball roster features five players that have played together for quite sometime. Brett Graves, Case Munson, Jake Ivory, Brett Peel and Steven Diel all played high school ball for Francis Howell in St. Charles, Mo., winning a state championship together during their senior season.

Junior righty John Miles led Mizzou with a 2.35 ERA coming out of the bullpen last season, but as if that weren't impressive enough, he really turned heads this summer. Playing his summer ball in the NECBL, he set a league record with a .135 opponent batting average and started the league's annual All-Star Game, alongside Tiger teammate Brett Graves. He led all starters in the league with a 1.20 ERA. He closed his summer with a complete game, one-run outing. He was 3-1 in Vermont and allowed an ER in just three of his starts.

The 2014 season marks the 60-year Anniversary of Mizzou's 1954 team that won the College World Series for the school's first ever National Championship in baseball. Under legendary Tiger head coach John 'Hi' Simmons, the 1954 team was 22-4 overall and went 5-1 at the College World Series, defeating Rollins, 4-1, to claim the Championship. Mizzou also defeated Lafayette, UMass, Oklahoma State and Michigan State at that College World Series.

As the Mizzou baseball program continues its transition into the SEC, the Mizzou Department of Athletics made a major commitment to the program by spending $4 million on a new facility, including a new locker room, coaches office and improved seating at Taylor Stadium. The new facility will be one of the best baseball facilities in the nation and will give players all they need to succeed on site. A state-of-the-art lockerroom, modeled after many big league lockerrooms, along with a team room, an auditorium and training room have been added on site at Taylor Stadium. Also, increased bleachers have been added down the LF line and the old bucket seats have been replaced with new seat-back stadium seats in order to help with the comfort level of the fans.

Former Mizzou standout Aaron Crow was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame this year. Crow established himself as one of the most feared pitchers in the nation during the late 2000s in a time of great success for Tiger baseball under Head Coach Tim Jamieson. During his junior season of 2008, Crow was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the game, as he won the Roger Clemens Award, given annually to the top pitcher in college baseball, in addition to being named a consensus 1st-Team All-American. His stats in 2008 were stellar - a perfect 13-0 record, an earned run average of 2.35, four complete-game shutouts and 127 strikeouts (10.65 per nine innings). Had a 43-inning scoreless streak during the 2008 season.

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.

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 24th season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his fourth year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Mizzou will wrap up its season series with Missouri State next Tuesday at Hammons Field. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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