Jesse Santo and the Tigers host Kansas at Taylor Stadium this weekend.
April 14, 2011
Mizzou (13-19, 1-7 Big 12) vs. Kansas (16-17, 6-6 Big 12)
First Pitch - What You Need to Know
Mizzou will continue its four-game homestand this weekend as it welcomes arch rival Kansas to Taylor Stadium for a three-game Big 12 series. The three-game slate will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. and the teams will play at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Mizzou and Kansas have met already this season as the two played at Kauffman Stadium in a non-conference matchup last Wednesday.
Series History Mizzou leads the all-time series with Kansas, 212-128-2, but has dropped the last five meetings, most recently a 7-1 loss at Kauffman Stadium. Mizzou's last win over Kansas came on May 10, 2009. That meeting came down the final at-bat as Ryan Ampleman - just a sophomore then - launched a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give Mizzou a 13-12 win. That was after KU had scored five runs in the top of the ninth to knot the game at 12 all. The homer was the first career jack for Ampleman.
Three-Peat Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown went deep in all three of the Tigers' games at No. 23 Oklahoma State last weekend, becoming the first Tiger to go yard in three straight games since Greg Folgia did so in 2009. The power outburst for him was a bit of a surprise as he came into the series with just one career home run and none this season. He is now one bomb shy of tying Jonah Schmidt for the team lead with four. He has been rewarded for his recent power surge by hitting in the three hole in each of the last two games.
Plenty of Steals After swiping three bags in Wednesday's game against SIU-Edwardsville, Mizzou continues to rank second in the Big 12 in steals with 66 this season. Keep in mind, that Mizzou has played two less games than league leader Texas Tech (69 steals in 35 games) as Mizzou is swiping 2.00 bases per game this season. Only K-State (2.003 steals per game) ranks ahead of Mizzou in that department this season.
Last Time Out
The Tigers lost a 7-2 decision to SIU-Edwardsville on Wednesday evening at Taylor Stadium. Both Scott Sommerfeld and Eric Garcia posted multi-hit games on the evening and Mizzou swiped three bags in the game. But the pitching fell apart in the ninth and SIU-E scored four runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
Anderson Makes Second Start
In Wednesday's game, sophomore righty Eric Anderson made his second start of the season and his second since coming off of season-ending shoulder surgery last year. He threw 54 pitches over 4.0 innings of work, both of which are highs for him since coming off of the surgery. He gave up just two earned runs in the 4.0 innings of work while striking out two. He allowed just four hits in the outing as well as he continues to regain his form on the mound.
Buehler Pitching Well as of Late
Senior Brad Buehler has seemed to find his stride on the mound as of late. After battling a little soreness in his elbow in a bad outing against Central Arkansas, Buhler has given up just one earned run over his last three appearances, spanning 5.2 innings. He threw two scoreless innings against SIU-E on Wednesday, striking out two and walking no Cougar batters while scattering four hits.
Hitting Streaks to Watch
Coming into the weekend, several Tigers are carrying hit streaks, including both Brannon Champagne and Eric Garcia, who each come into the series riding four-game hit streaks. That matches the season-long for Garcia in 2011. Champagne has the Tigers' longest hitting streak this season at eight straight games, and his current four-game streak two of the top-five longest streaks by a Tiger this season.
Brown Powers Up
As mentioned earlier, sophomore outfielder Blake Brown enjoyed a power surge last weekend, blasting home runs in three straight games. His homer on Friday was the first by a Tiger in a week and was his first since March 23 last season. He became the first Tiger to homer in back-to-back games this season on Saturday with another solo blast to left field. His homer on Sunday was an opposite field shot over the right field fence. He is now just one home run shy of the team lead and he hit in the three-hole for the first time this season on Sunday. Brown is second in the Big 12 with his three home runs in league play. Only Nebraska's Cody Asche has more home runs in league games this season (five).
What Can Brown Do For You?
Staying on the topic of Blake Brown, the Tiger sophomore also ranks fifth in the league with 23 walks this season and is fifth with 13 steals, making him one of the most valuable players on the team. He also ranks third in the conference in slugging during league games as well with a .667 clip as four of his nine hits in conference play have gone for extra bases, including three home runs and triple.
Schmidt With a Big Week
Senior Jonah Schmidt had another big week in Mizzou's four games last week. He hit . 357 with five hits in 14 at-bats, including his team-leading fourth home run at Oklahoma State on Sunday. He slugged .571 and boasted an on-base percentage of .400 last week and stole a base.
He continues to lead the team in hitting (.314), RBI (19), home runs (four), slugging (.496), total bases (60), doubles (eight), hits (38) and is second in runs with 16. He is also ranked fourth in the Big 12 in slugging during league play with a .656 clip.
Garcia Breaking Out
Another bright spot from the Tigers' road trip last week was sophomore Eric Garcia, who hit well on the road for the first time this season. He hit .333 and boasted an OBP of .538 on the week. He posted a double and stole a pair of bases on the week as well. His two walks on the week move his season total to 21, which is sixth in the Big 12 and second on the team to Blake Brown (22). Keep in mind, Garcia has hit .309 at home this season but was hitting just .061 in games away from home before last week, so the .333 clip last week was a pleasant sign for the Tigers. He tallied two hits against SIU-E on Wednesday.
No Place Like Home
Statistically, the Tigers are a much better team at home this season. As a team, Mizzou is hitting .288 at home this season while it checks in at just .220 away from home. In all, just one hitter has an average above .300 away from home this season while seven players are hitting over .300 in the Tigers' home games this season. Mizzou's OBP (.407 at home, .305 away) is also much higher at home, due in large part to nearly double the amount of walks. In 593 at-bats at home, MU has drawn 94 walks while drawing just 46 on 491 bats on the road.
Tigers' Big Z
Freshman southpaw Rob Zastryzny has emerged as the Tigers' top starter this season as he boasts a team-best 3.08 ERA among Tiger starters this season. His best start of the season came against Oklahoma three weeks ago when he threw 8.0 innings without allowing a single earned run against one of the league's top offenses. He also leads the team in strikeouts (43) and ranks second in innings pitched (49.2). His two wins on the year also rank him second on the team. He threw 7.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs on five hits at OSU last Friday.
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 21 appearances this season and is ranked fourth in the league with his .203 opponent batting average this season (he is third in that department during league play at .162). He ranks second on the team with an ERA of 3.34 He is seventh in the league in that department in league play at 1.42.
What is even more impressive for McCormick is that despite being a late reliever, he still ranks third on the team in innings pitched this season at 35.0. 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 7.79 Ks per nine innings pitched this season.
Smith Earns First Career Start
Freshman righty Myles Smith earned his first career start last Wednesday against Kansas. He lasted just 1.1 innings and gave up four runs, but the true freshman has had great stuff all season long. In fact, he went seven straight appearances without giving up an earned run before giving up just one earned run at No. 8 Texas in 2.2 innings. Aside from his first career start and his first career appearance, Smith has given up just one earned run in eight appearances this season.
Ross Impressive in Loss, Earns First Start
Junior reliever Dusty Ross was a bright spot in the Tigers' loss to Kansas last Wednesday. After the first two pitchers in the game gave up seven runs over the first three innings, Ross came on and threw 3.0 innings of no-hit, scoreless baseball to keep the Tigers in the game. He also struck out a career-best five in the game, including striking out the side in the fifth.
That outing earned him his first career start on Sunday at Oklahoma State. He gave up two runs over 3.0 IP, but struck out four in the start, which was full of positives after he settled in following a two-run first inning. Ross has been pitching well as of late as he has now appeared in 16 games for the Tigers. His 3.92 ERA currently ranks fourth on the team. He has given up just three earned runs in his last seven appearances and has given up just six in his last 10 appearances, spanning 16.2 innings.
Grand Theft Base
Mizzou slipped to second in the Big 12 Conference in stolen bases this season with 66 through 33 games this season. The 66 steals are just three behind league-leader Texas Tech, who enters the weekend with 69. Mizzou stole six bases last week, including a perfect 3-3 night against Kansas at Kauffman Stadium. Eric Garcia led all Tigers with two steals on the week. The Tigers stole three bags against SIU-E Wednesday.
More on Steals
Blake Brown is the only Tiger to rank in the league's top 10 in the stolen base department (he ranks fifth with 13 this season), showing that the speed on the base paths has been a team approach. In fact, five different players have at least eight steals this season for Mizzou. Brannon Champagne and Eric Garcia have 10, Conner Mach has nine and Jesse Santo has eight. Jonah Schmidt also 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 fifth in the Big 12 with 23 walks and sophomore infielder Eric Garcia is ranked seventh with 21. Mizzou joins Texas Tech and Baylor as the only three teams with two athletes ranked in the league's top 10 in bases on balls this season. In all, Mizzou has 140 walks as a team this season are ranked fourth in the Big 12 this season. Texas Tech leads the league with 171.
Over the past several weeks, the Tiger starting lineup has appeared to become more concrete and one thing 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 - Jesse Santo and Jonah Schmidt.
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 33 games for Mizzou this season. Of those 33 games, he has hit in the three or four-hole in 25 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. He started at DH on Wednesday against SIU-E.
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 1.42 ERA in league games has him ranked seventh in the Big 12 while Zastryzny's 2.66 ERA has him ranked 13th. Of the seven relievers on that list, McCormick owns the second-best opponent batting average at .162. The best mark is by Corey Knebel of Texas at .070.
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 be off during the mid-week schedule next week before playing in a three-game Big 12 series at Baylor, beginning Friday. The teams will play on Saturday and Sunday in Waco as well. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.
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