Tigers Head to Oklahoma for Key Big 12 Series

<i>Blake Brown has hit safely in 19 straight games, a Big 12-best this season.</i>

Blake Brown has hit safely in 19 straight games, a Big 12-best this season.

April 12, 2012

Mizzou (18-14) at Oklahoma (19-14)
• Date: April 13-15
• Location: Norman, Okla.
• Stadium: L. Dale Mitchell Park (2.904)
• Gametracker: MUTigers.com
• Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
• Media Notes: Series Notes - at Oklahoma Get Acrobat Reader

First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will continue Big 12 play this weekend as it heads to Oklahoma for a three-game series with the Sooners at L. Dale Mitchell Park. The series will begin Friday at 6:30 p.m. and continue on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. as well. The series finale will be contested on Sunday at 1 p.m. The series obviously holds big implications in the Big 12 standings as the two teams rank fifth and sixth in the conference with Oklahoma standing at 4-8 in league games and the Tigers coming in at 3-6. In the overall standings, Oklahoma has just a half game lead on the Tigers.

Series History • The Tigers trail the all-time series with OU, 106-148-1, but the two teams have played very competitive baseball in each of the last two series meetings. Last season, the two teams split a snow-shortened series in Columbia and the year before that, the schools played a tight three-game series in Norman. The Sooners won two out of three games in that series, taking the Friday night game, 6-4, and the Saturday game, 10-4. Mizzou then rallied to earn a 12-11 win over the Sooners on Sunday thanks to Aaron Senne's go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.

    Mizzou Notables vs. Oklahoma
    • The Tigers and Sooner split last year's series but OU has won three of the last five meetings
    • Mizzou's last win at OU was April 11, 2010, on an Aaron Senne go-ahead homer in the eighth
    • Seven of the last nine meetings between the two teams have been decided by two runs or less
    • The Tiger pitching staff has given up just one earned run to the Sooners over the last 20.0 IP
    • The last time Mizzou played at OU, it was also coming off of a 5-4 win over Illinois at Busch
    • Friday night starter Rob Zastryzny has not given up an earned run to OU in 8.0 IP.
Last Time Out • Mizzou earned Braggin' Rights over Illinois with a 5-4 win over the Illini Wednesday night (April 11) at Busch Stadium, the home of Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals. The Tigers got a good start from freshman Brett Graves, who pitched a career-best 6.0 innings while fanning seven, also a career-best. Michael McGraw and Dane Opel each tallied three hits for the Tigers, who are now 3-0 lifetime at Busch and have scored 31 runs in three games at the Major League park.

Recapping Last Year's Series With Oklahoma
Snow and cold weather were the story heading into the Tigers' series with Oklahoma last season, but by the end of the series, it was the Tigers' pitching staff that stole the headlines. In fact, Mizzou gave up just one earned run in a pair of games while splitting the two-game series with the Sooners (both games were played Friday night due to snow in the area Saturday and Sunday).

Then a freshman, Rob Zastryzny earned his first Friday night Big 12 start against the Sooners and he pitched 8.0 innings without giving up an earned run. He was however victim of some bad defense as he was tagged with three unearned runs as OU escaped with a 3-1 win. In the next game, the Tigers won, 2-1, behind a strong start from Matt Stites who went 6.2 innings with just one earned run and the Tigers got a walk-off single by Eric Garcia in the bottom of the 11th inning. In all, the Tiger pitching staff gave up just one earned run in 20.0 innings in the series.

Champagne Owns Impressive Streak
Tiger center fielder Brannon Champagne owns a career-best streak heading into Tuesday's game as he has reached base in 24 straight games, the longest such streak by a Tiger this season and the longest by a Tiger since 2010 when Michael Liberto (23 straight) and Aaron Senne (32 straight) did so. In those 24 games, Champagne is hitting .307 with an OBP of .410 and 12 walks. It currently ranks third in the Big 12 this season. Below are the top current streaks in the Big 12

    • Mark Patyon - Texas - 29
    • Tanner Witt - Kansas State - 25
    Brannon Champagne - Mizzou - 24
    • Cal Towey - Baylor - 22

Brown Owns League-Best 19-Game Hit Streak
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou right fielder Blake Brown owns a 19-game hit streak, the longest such streak by a Tiger this season and the longest streak (both active and overall) in the Big 12 this season. His 19-game hit streak is a career-best mark and the best by a Tiger since 2010 when Brett Nicholas hit safely in 19 straight games. In all, since 2004 only two Tigers have hit safely in 19 straight games - Nicholas in 2010 is the other - as Brown owns the program's second-best hit streak since 2004. Below are the league's top streaks this season (Current streaks in bold).
    Blake Brown - Mizzou - 19
    • Alex Silver - Texas - 16
    • Zach Fish - OSU - 14
    • Barrett Barnes - Texas Tech - 13
    Dane Opel - Mizzou - 12

Champagne Tigers' Top Hitter In Big 12 Play
Following the Tigers' weekend series with Baylor, center fielder Brannon Champagne is now hitting .364 in Big 12 games, an improvement from his .314 average in all games this season. Champagne has 12 hits in 33 at-bats in league play and leads the team in runs scored (seven) and OBP (.417) in that span as well. He also is a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases in league play, also a team-best. The four stolen bases in Big 12 play are also a league-best for Champagne.

Pleading the Fifth (Inning)
Looking at the stats this season, it is clear that the Tigers have enjoyed the most success in the fifth inning. In fact, Mizzou has scored 29 runs in fifth innings this season, their best total in any inning, while limiting opponents to just eight runs in that frame, which is their lowest total in any inning. In fact, Mizzou has scored in the fifth inning in eight of the last 13 games.

Looking deeper into the runs scored by inning summary, the Tigers appear to like the third-fifth innings, outscoring their opponents, 78-47, in those frames this season.

Mach the Key in the THree-Hole
Tiger senior Conner Mach has been a key offensive figure for the Tigers this season, hitting in the three-hole in 28 games. The team is 18-11 with him in that spot of the lineup while the team is 0-3 when Mach does not hit in that spot of the order (0-2 with Scott Sommerfeld, 0-1 with Blake Brown). A couple other notable spots in the lineup that seem to be impactful are Dane Opel hitting in the cleanup spot (team is 13-4 with him at cleanup) and Ben Turner in the seven-hole (6-1). Also, the team in 9-3 with Eric Garcia in the sixth spot.

Brown Eighth in Career Steals at Mizzou
Tiger outfielder Blake Brown stole his 35th career base on Wednesday against Illinos, which ranks him seventh all-time in program history. He is now just five back of Ryan Lollis for sixth all-time. Just as a note, Eric Garcia (23 steals) and Brannon Champagne (25 steals) are also threatening to break the career top-10 at Mizzou (two players are tied for 10th with 29 career steals).

Emens Closing In on All-Time Big 12 Top 10
With 86 career appearances on the mound, Tiger senior Jeff Emens is closing in on the all-time Big 12 top 10 in career appearances. He is the league's active leader in that category, three ahead of Texas A&M's Estevan Uriegas (83). In all, Emens needs 19 more appearances on the mound to earn a spot in the all-time top-10 (Huston Street, 105). He has appeared in 15 of the Tigers' 32 games this season and is on pace to crack the top 10 should the Tigers reach the postseason. His single season career-best in appearances is 25 in 2009. Emens is currently seventh in Big 12 in ERA at 2.58 as well.

Not only that, but Emens' 86 career appearances are the fourth-best total in school history, four ahead of Bunky Moeller (1988-1991). He needs a few more appearances to catch former teammate Phil McCormick (106).

Ross Shines Out of the Bullpen
Tiger reliever Dusty Ross has been one of the Tigers' top arms out of the pen in his last four appearances, giving up just one earned run in 9.0 innings of work in those appearances. Ross has been roughed up just once this season (four earned runs in 1.1 innings against Central Arkansas) but other than that he has been very impressive. In fact, in his other 14 appearances, Ross owns a 0.96 ERA with just two earned runs in 18.2 innings. If you exclude his outing against UCA (which was the first time this season that he pitched on back-to-back days) he has given up just one earned run in his last 11 appearances and that came at No. 6 Texas A&M on April 1.

Holovach Second in Big 12 in Wins
Mizzou's Blake Holovach (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season last Friday against Baylor, but the Tiger junior is still putting together an impressive season. In fact, Holovach's five wins this season are second in the Big 12 as he is slowly moving up the single season wins list at Mizzou. In fact, despite all of the good pitchers that Mizzou has had over the last several years, Holovach is just four back of tying 10th place all-time at Mizzou and just five wins back of tying seventh place in a single season. Of course, current Kansas City Royal Aaron Crow is the single season leader in wins at Mizzou with his 13 in 2008. Holovach ranks among the nation's top 20 in wins this season.

Better as a Starter
Junior lefty Blake Holovach has been nothing short of sensational since he was inserted into the Tigers' weekend rotation. He tossed a complete game shutout against High Point on March 18, doing so on 115 pitches. He is the first Tiger since 2010 to toss a nine-inning complete game and the first since Kyle Gibson in 2009 to toss a complete game shutout. He nearly threw another complete game against Oklahoma State, going 8.2 innings while allowing just one unearned run. Since being inserted into the starting rotation, Holovach's numbers have been very impressive. Below is a look:

    • In starting rotation: 41.1 IP, 1.96 ERA, 32 hits, 9 ER, 8 BB, 26 Ks, .209 OPP BA, 1.09 WHIP
    • Out of Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 16.88 ERA, 9 hits, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 Ks, .563 OPP BA, 5.62 WHIP

Walsh Eighth Nationally With Eight Saves
Sophomore reliever Jake Walsh enters this weekend ranked eighth nationally with eight saves this season. What is even more remarkable about Walsh's eight saves is that he is now tied for fourth on Mizzou single-season saves list and sits just four back of tying Ryan Stegall for the single season school record (12 in 2000). Walsh needs just two more saves to crack the career top-10 list at Mizzou as well. He is currently the Big 12's leader in saves and is third in appearances at 16, also a team-best total.

Turner Catches Nearly Every Inning
Senior catcher Ben Turner has caught nearly every inning (244.2 of 279.2) for the Tigers so far this season and will likely continue that pace all season. Turner is tops on a depth chart at the catcher position that includes three newcomers and a redshirt freshman. Although it is early, something to track will be the amount of innings that Turner will catch this season. Since 2004, no Tiger catcher has started more than 54 games (JC Field in 2006) and Turner has started all 18 this season. Turner's 44 starts at catcher last season are the most since Trevor Coleman started 53 games in 2008. Turner has 25 starts at catcher this season.

Opel Earns Big 12 Player of the Week
Junior lefty Dane Opel had arguably his best weekend as a Tiger at Auburn in week one, leading the Tigers with a .500 average in three games while hitting a pair of home runs and driving in four. He also scored a pair of runs, walked once and slugged 1.000 with an OBP of .538. He became the first Tiger since 2010 to tally a pair of home runs in a single game. For his efforts that weekend, Opel was honored as the Big 12 Player of the Week, becoming the first Tiger to earn a Big 12 weekly honor since Jonah Schmidt earned Big 12 Player of the Week following the Tigers' series win at Kansas State on May 9 last season.

Preparing for the Future
Mizzou opened its 2012 campaign by taking two of three games from SEC foe Auburn in the opening weekend. The series win for the Tigers holds significance because Mizzou will make the move from the Big 12 to the SEC next season. With the two wins, the Tigers are now 38-34-1 against teams currently in the SEC. It is even more significant as Auburn continues to win in the SEC this season as it is either ranked or receiving votes in several national polls this week.

Jamieson Leads Team USA
Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson wrapped up his stint as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team head coach last summer. In all, Jamieson led the club to an 11-2-1 overall record. Jamieson's .821 winning percentage this summer is the eighth-best in Collegiate National Team history, which dates back to 1984 (28 seasons). The team's two losses are its fewest since 2008, when the team went 24-0. Mizzou assistant coach Dan Pietroburgo was an auxiliary coach with the team as well this summer.

Anderson Pitches For TEAM USA
Team USA had another Mizzou connection this summer as well. Tiger junior Eric Anderson was one of the team's top pitchers over the summer. He led the team in ERA (0.00) and wins (two), while ranking second in innings pitched (12.0). He allowed just eight hits and two walks in his 12.0 innings of work and did not allow a run while striking out seven batters. Prior to his stint with USA Baseball, Anderson threw two games with Falmouth in the Cape Cod League, posting a 1.50 ERA.

Francis Howell Connection
With 17 newcomers on the team, there will be plenty of fresh faces on the field for Mizzou this season, but for a trio of freshmen, there will be a familiar feel. In fact, for Brett Graves, Jake Ivory and Case Munson, the 2012 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.

Tigers Raise Money For Joplin
Mizzou baseball raised $12,796 for the Joplin, Mo., Little Leagues with its Joplin Relief Games against Iowa in the fall. The baseball program partnered with Daniel Boone Little League, the Diamond Council, BC Baseball and The Callaway Bank to create a welcoming atmosphere for fans at Taylor Stadium. The money will go directly to helping Joplin Little League rebuild its fields that were ravaged by a tornado on May 22, 2011.

Plackis Named to Mizzou `39
Mizzou baseball redshirt junior Andreas Plackis has been honored by the Mizzou Alumni Association as a recipient of the 2012 Mizzou `39 Award, an award given to 39 seniors at the University of Missouri based of their outstanding service, academic achievement and leadership. Plackis has been a model student during his time at Mizzou and he will graduate in May with a degree in Biological Sciences as he will pursue a medical degree following his undergraduate studies.

Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium Named Field of the Year
Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium, the home of the Mizzou baseball team, was named 2011 College and University Baseball Field of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). The field is maintained and cared for by Mizzou Turf Specialist Josh McPherson and his staff. The STMA Field of the Year Award program began in 1992. There are five field types for which awards may be given: Baseball, Football, Soccer, Softball and Sporting Grounds. For each field type, awards may be given in three categories: Professional, College and University, and Schools and Parks. This year there were a total of eleven awards presented.

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.

In addition, six Tigers were selected in last year's MLB Draft. Newcomers Brandon Platts and Brett Graves were both drafted out of high school. Platts was a 13th-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates while Graves went in the 26th round to the St. Louis Cardinals. Matt Stites was picked in the 17th round by the San Diego Padres while three more Tigers - Phil McCormick, Conner Mach and Zack Hardoin - were picked on the second day of the draft.

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 22nd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his second year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Mizzou Network
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2012 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 host Kansas State in a three-game series as returns to Taylor Stadium next weekend. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.



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