April 10, 2013
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
Winner of three of its last four games, the Mizzou baseball team will wrap up its eight-game road trip with a three-game series at Vanderbilt this weekend, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Hawkins Field in Nashville. The second game of the series will be contested at 4 p.m. on ESPNU, marking the second-straight Saturday that Mizzou will be featured on the national network. The series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m.
Series History Mizzou and Vanderbilt have never met. So far this season, Mizzou owns a 4-5 mark against teams from the SEC East (1-2 vs. South Carolina, 1-2 vs. Tennessee, 2-1 vs. UGA) while Mizzou is a lifetime 42-44-1 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 its days in the Big 12, Mizzou is 76-86-1 against SEC teams.
Tigers Won Three of Four Heading into the weekend, Mizzou has won three of its last four games, marking the first time it has done that since March 13. As much as the offense has had its struggles this season, it has been the Tiger bats that have carried the team in that span, hitting .313 as a team with a team OBP of .400.
Notables While Winning Three of Four
Last Time Out
Keaton Steele has carried the Mizzou batting order in that span (.600, 3 R, 4 RBI, .933 slugging).
Mizzou has 10 extra-base hits (seven doubles, two triples and a homer) in that span.
The Tigers have drawn 16 walks and been hit by six pitches in that span and have a .400 OBP.
Mizzou's pitching has allowed just three doubles and six walks in those four games.
In that span, Tigers that lead off an inning have reached base safely in 20 of 36 chances (.556).
In fact, the Mizzou leadoff man has reached base in 11 of the last 18 innings.
Mizzou defeated in-state rival Missouri State, 5-4, Tuesday night at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. The win was the Tigers' third in four games and was their third straight over their in-state rival. The Tigers took a 5-1 lead in the top of the eighth after a two-run triple from Logan Pearson
and an RBI single from Kendall Keeton
. Missouri State rallied, but John Miles
induced a 6-4-3 double play in the ninth for his first career save, preserving the 5-4 win.
Recapping the Last SEC Series
Mizzou won its first-ever SEC series last weekend, defeating Georgia in two of three games, including a thrilling game three comeback that saw Mizzou score four runs in the top of ninth to rally from down 5-0 to clinch the series. Mizzou won Friday night behind a great start from junior lefty Rob Zastryzny, who tossed his second career complete game shutout in a 4-0 win. Keaton Steele drove in the winning runs in that game with a two-run homer in the fourth, his first career Division I homer. The Tigers then had their comeback fall short on Saturday as they fell, 6-5, to even the series. Steele was the story on Sunday as he came on in relief and threw the finale 7.1 innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run while retiring the final 15 batters he faced. Dane Opel hit a go-ahead bases-clearing triple in the top of the ninth as Mizzou scored four times in that frame to win the game, 8-5.
Notables from the Series at Georgia
Zastryzny Continues to Deal
The series was the first ever SEC series win for the Tigers, in their inaugural SEC season.
Mizzou hit .299 as a team on the weekend, up from their season average of .244 heading into the weekend.
The Tiger pitching staff allowed just four walks and only two extra-base hits over the three games last weekend.
Mizzou was issued 18 free passes (13 walks and five HBP) and struck out just 18 times in the three games this weekend.
Keaton Steele put up ridiculous numbers in the three-game tilt, hitting .545 with three runs, three RBI, two doubles and a homer.
Steele also pitched 7.1 innings, including five straight perfect frames retiring 15 straight, while allowing just four hits, no walks and one earned run.
His nine strikeouts and 7.1 IP were both career highs.
Nine different Tigers drive in runs on the weekend, highlighted by three from Steele, Kendall Keeton and Dane Opel.
Rob Zastryzny threw his second career complete game shutout on Friday night in a 4-0 win.
Mizzou's bullpen allowed just two earned runs and eight hits in 12.0 innings pitched on the weekend while striking out 14.
After an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Rob Zastryzny
has been exactly the type of pitcher that everyone expected him to be this season. In fact, over his last five starts, Zastryzny has a 1.83 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched while allowing just eight earned runs and striking out 35 against just eight hits. In SEC play, Zastryzny has a 1.78 ERA. His numbers set up one of the more intruiging Friday night pitching matchups in the country this weekend as he will face Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek, who is 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 59.2 innings pitched.
Man of Steele - SEC Player of the Week
When the Tigers signed Keaton Steele, there were big expectations for the Tiger utility guy that is possibly the best two-way player in the SEC after the weekend he just had. In an attempt to kick-start the Tiger offense, Steele was inserted into the lineup last week and he did not disappoint. In fact, Steele hit a team-best .500 with four extra-base hits (three doubles and a two-run homer) while slugging .929 with an OPS of 1.458. He scored three runs and drove in three more while accounting for 13 total bases, doubling up the next-best Tiger last week. He was SEC Player of the Week for his performance. He picked up right where he left off offensively on Tuesday at Missouri State, tallying his second-straight three hit game, going 3-for-4 with a double and RBI.
Not only did he impress at the dish last week, but he also was lights out on the mound, throwing 7.1 innings of relief baseball against Georgia on Sunday, striking out nine and walking none while giving up just one earned run to earn his third win of the season and second in SEC play. He retired the last 15 batters he faced in that outing. Steele is the first SEC player to earn SEC Player of the Week and SEC Pitcher of the Week since Tennessee's Scott Schroeffel in 1996, a span of 17 years.
Steele Becoming Strikeout Machine
After his outing Sunday at Georgia, it is becoming clear that Keaton Steele may be the Tigers' top strikeout pitcher. He had nine in just 7.1 innings of work and on the season, he has 34 strikeouts in 29.2 innings pitched, the best strikeout to walk ratio on the team while his 34 strikeouts are second-best on the team.
Newcomers Making Impact
So far this season, it has been the Tiger newcomers that have supplied the bulk of the Tiger stats, specifically at the plate. In fact, the six of the 19 Tiger position players this year are newcomers and those six players have combined to take 52-percent of the teams at-bats, score 49-percent of the team's runs, drive in 62-percent of the team's RBIs and have 55-percent of the team's hits. In fact, Mizzou has 16 first-year players in its program this season. As many as six first-year players could be in Mizzou's starting lineup Friday night at Vanderbilt.
The impact of the newcomers has also been felt on the mound as eight of the 14 Tigers to see action on the mound this season are first-year players. In fact, those eight players have combined for 70 of the team's 107 appearances (65-percent) and 125.0 of the team's 248.1 innings this season (50-percent).
A Quick Look at Newcomers' Contributions
62% of RBIs 55% of team's hits 52% of team's at-bats 49% of team's run
70 of the team's 107 pitching appearances 125.0 of 248.1 innings pitched
16 first-year players including six junior college transfers
Pitching Limiting Walks, Extra-Base Hits
Over the last four weeks, Mizzou's pitching staff has gotten it done due in large part to its ability to limit walks and extra-base hits lately. In fact, in five games last weekend, Mizzou allowed just eight walks and six extra-base hits. Conversely, the Tiger offense 18 walks and 13 extra-base hits. The numbers look even better if you just take into account the numbers from the Georgia series last weekend in which the Tigers allowed just four walks in 26.0 innings while giving up just two extra-base hits (both doubles).
In fact, Mizzou has allowed the fewest doubles of any SEC team in league games this season with just six in 12 contests. Also, Mizzou has walked just 31 batters in SEC play this season, the second-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.
Bullpen Impresses Over Last Five
Over the last five games, the strength of the Tiger pitching staff has been the bullpen as it owns a combined ERA of 1.55 in 29.0 innings pitched, allowing just five earned runs in that span and just one extra-base hit and only 22 hits in that span. The bullpen has also struck out 28 batters in that time against just 10 walks.
Opel Owns Career-best Streak
Senior Dane Opel carries into the series with Vanderbilt a 22-game streak in which he has reached base safely after reaching base at Missouri State on 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
Tigers on the Road This Season
Hitting a team-best .342 in 79 at-bats with a team-best slugging % (.481) and OBP (.455).
Has driven in 14 runs and scored a team-best 18 runs in that span.
Has six extra-base hits including three doubles and two homers and the game winning triple last Sunday.
Been issued 18 free passes (13 walks, five HBP) in that span.
Leads Mizzou with 27 hits in those 22 games and has nine multi-hit games.
Also has three multi-RBI games in that span as well.
As the Tigers continue their season-long eight-game road trip, we will take a look at a few notable stat lines for the Tigers away from Taylor Stadium this season.
Notables on the Road
The Tigers are just 4-9 on the road this season, but have won four of their last five road contests.
The Tigers are hitting .252 as a team with just a .346 OBP and a .344 slugging percentage.
Keaton Steele, Dylan Kelly and Dane Opel are the only Tigers hitting over .300 on the road.
Those three check in at .400, .333 and .33, respectively.
Mizzou is hitting just .240 with runners in scoring position on the road this season.
However, the Tigers have seemed to find their groove on the road over their last five trips in hostile territory, going 4-1 in that span. Below are a few notables during that streak
Notables in the Last Four Road Games
In the SEC Rankings
The Tigers are averaging 7.2 runs per game and 11.6 hits per game in that span.
Mizzou is hitting .331 as a team in that span and slugging .480 with an OBP of .418
Mizzou has 15 extra-base hits (13 doubles, two triples and three homers) and 58 total hits in that span.
Six players are hitting .300 or better in that span while two are at .400 or better.
The Tigers have issued just eight walks in their last four road games and a 3.48 staff ERA.
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.
ERA Much Better Since First Two Weeks
1st - HBP (SEC games) - 22
1st - Doubles allowed (SEC games) - 6
1st - Wild Pitches (SEC Games) - 2
2nd - Walks allowed (SEC games) - 31
2nd - HBP (all games) - 54
3rd - Doubles (SEC games) - 20
3rd - Batters Struck Out (SEC games) - 85
5th - Hits allowed (all games) - 241
5th - ERs allowed (SEC games) - 40
5th - ERA (SEC games) - 3.42
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 3.01. In that time, Mizzou has allowed just 67 earned runs in 200.1 innings pitched and has walked just 66 batters in those 200.1 innings, meaning Mizzou pitchers have walked just one batter every three innings over the last 22 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 3.44 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 on Opening Day Rosters
With last Monday (April 1) being Opening Day for Major League Baseball, Tiger fans will see four 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. He just put together a great start for the Rangers in his first big league appearance, going 7.1 innings, striking out five while allowing just one earned run on four hits. He was the first Rangers pitcher to pitch into the eighth inning since John Dettmer in 1994, who coincidentally is also a Mizzou alum. 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 .333, a mark that ranks 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 (.333), doubles (six), RBI (17), is second in slugging (.422), total bases (43) and OBP (.395) and is third on the team in runs (13). 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.
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 16 of 29 games this season and has been trotted out in 11 of the last 16 games. In those 11 appearances, Walsh has been nearly untouchable, giving up just two earned runs in 11.2 innings. He has 13 strikeouts in that span and is holding batters to just a .167 average in that span. He has allowed just seven hits in that span.
Rob Z Fan 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 24 free passes (15 walks, nine hit-by-pitch) in the first 29 games. In fact, his 24 free bases coupled with his .323 average so far give him a team-best .448 on-base percentage. Opel's career-high for OBP in a season is just .386 as a freshman in 2010.
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.
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."
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 are playing 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.
Tigers Televised 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. The Tigers will appear on ESPNU twice while appearing on the SEC Network through Fox Sports for two additional games.
Televised SEC Games
On The Air
March 30 vs. No. 10 LSU - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports - Cancelled
April 6 at Georgia - 7 p.m. - ESPNU - Loss, 6-5
April 13 at No. 2 Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. - ESPNU
May 11 at Alabama - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
May 18 vs. Kentucky - 1 p.m. - Metro Sports
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 Missouri State on Wednesday (April 17) at Taylor Stadium. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.