Tigers Return Home to Face No. 22 Mississippi State



April 17, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (17-18, 6-9 SEC) vs. #22 Mississippi State (23-15, 7-8 SEC)
When   Friday - 6 p.m. | Saturday - 2 p.m. | Sunday - 1 p.m.
Location Columbia, Mo. | Taylor Stadium
Tickets Click Here
TV Friday // Mediacom 22 (Beau Baehman, Gene McArtor)
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT - Sunday | Stat Broadcast
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | MSU
Series History Mississippi State leads, 2-0
Last Meeting MSU won, 2-1 in 17 innings, last season in SEC Tournament
Streak MSU - Won 2
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

Following a slight setback with a midweek loss at in-state rival Missouri State, Mizzou baseball will return home this weekend for a three-game series with No. 22 Mississippi State. Game one will be at 6 p.m. Friday and will be televised live on Mediacom22 with Chris Gervino and Gene McArtor on the call. First pitch Saturday will be at 2 p.m. and the series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m.

This weekend will be a homecoming for Mississippi State head coach John Cohen, who was an assistant coach at Mizzou from 1992-1997. A graduate assistant coach from 1992-94, Cohen coached under legendary Tiger coach Gene McArtor before becoming Tim Jamieson's top assistant from 1995-97. He helped the team to a 39-19 overall record and an NCAA Regional appearance in 1996. Mizzou tallied a 185-147 record with Cohen as an assistant.

This weekend's matchup is the first between Mizzou and Mississippi State since an epic, 17-inning game in the opening round of the SEC Tournament last May. MSU won that game, 2-1, on a walk-off single by senior catcher Mitch Slaughter. Dillon Everett and Shane Segovia each had a pair of hits in that game but Mizzou was limited to just 11 knocks in the 17 innings.

The only other meeting between the two schools came in 2003, a 10-5 Bulldog win in NCAA Regional action in the Strakville Regional.

Mizzou dropped a midweek contest on Tuesday at in-state rival Missouri State, 9-0. The Tigers were limited to just five hits while MSU pounded out 15 hits. The Tigers stranded five runners in the first three innings, including a runners on second and third, no out spot in the third and a bases-loaded, one-out spot in the second inning. The loss means that Mizzou splits the season series with Missouri State, 1-1. The Tigers defeated Missouri State, 9-4, on April 8 at Taylor Stadium.

Mizzou has played one of the toughest schedules in the country to date and the latest NCAA RPI rankings back that statement up. In fact, Mizzou has played an SEC-high 20 games against RPI top-50 teams, posting a 9-11 record in those contests. More than half of the Tigers' wins have come against RPI top-50 teams. Mizzou is also on pace to play 32 games against teams ranked in the RPI top 50. Florida is the only other SEC team to play 20 games against RPI top-50 competition. MSU checks in at 42 this week, which means Mizzou will have three more games against top-50 RPI teams this weekend.

The key player in Mizzou's series win at No. 15 Kentucky last weekend was fifth year senior Eric Anderson, who was named SEC Player of the Week for the first time in his career. He is the third Tiger to be honored by the SEC this season, joining SEC Pitcher of the Week Brett Graves and Keaton Steele. He is the first Tiger to earn SEC Player of the Week distinction since Steele did so following the Georgia series last April. Anderson was outstanding, putting together one of the best weeks of his career, both at the plate and on the mound. On Friday night, he went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI, all coming on a game-winning three-run homer in the eighth inning at No. 15 Kentucky. His homer came a half inning after Mizzou coughed up a 5-2 lead, allowing UK to score five runs in the seventh to take a 7-5 lead. Anderson then came back following a 12-0 loss on Saturday and did it all Sunday to will Mizzou to an 8-3 lead. Anderson tossed 7.0 innings, holding the SEC's top offense to just three runs on nine hits while walking just one and striking out 10. He also had the game-winning hit with a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning of that game as he finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and a walk in that game.

Eric Anderson became the first Tiger since second-round draft pick Rob Zastryzny to strike out 10 or more batters in two consecutive starts after fanning 10 UK batters on Sunday. Anderson now has 22 strikeouts over his last 16.0 innings of work after striking out 12 in a complete game effort against Georgia on April 6. In his last two starts, Anderson owns a 2.81 ERA in 16.0 innings, allowing just 15 hits and a walk. His WHIP is at 1.00 in those two starts and batters are hitting just .234 against him. He has fanned 22 against just the one walk. He is 2-0 in those two starts as well. Looking into Anderson's strikeout numbers over his last two starts, his 22 Ks in those games are more than his previous six outings combined (21 over 25.2 innings pitched, five starts). He ranks 12th nationally in K/BB ratio and 22nd in K/9. He will get the ball Sunday.

Aside from his dominance on the mound, Eric Anderson has been getting it done at the dish as well. Last week, he led Mizzou in hits, total bases, slugging, RBI, game-winning hits and was second in OBP. He hit .571 with runners in scoring position last week and has now reached base in his first at-bat in 16 of the last 25 games since moving to the leadoff spot. He is also 25-for-47 when leading off an inning this season (.553) and he has reached base safely in 10 consecutive games. He leads the team with 24 runs scored, is second in RBI (15) and leads the team in slugging (.504), extra-base hits (12), homers (three), total bases (57), OBP (.416) and OPS (.920).

Mississippi State comes into the weekend ranked as high as No. 22 in two of the major four top-25 polls and is coming off of a 2013 season that saw the team finish as the College World Series runner-up. At 23-15 overall, the Bulldogs are led by an offense that is hitting .271 as a unit and a pitching staff that has compiled a 3.37 staff ERA. Coach Cohen has a lot of quality arms on the mound, but he has yet to settle on a consistent weekend rotation as eight different pitchers have started a game this season with five of those arms having at least five starts. The incredible pitching depth has shown in the stats as no Bulldog pitcher has appeared in more than 14 games this season. Jacob Lindgren (1.35 ERA in 13 appearances) is one of the team's top arms, tossing 26.2 innings and allowing just 14 hits while striking out 49. Ross Mitchell owns a team-high 67.0 innings and boasts a 2.15 ERA. Trevor Fitts, who started the SEC Tournament game against Mizzou last season, has tossed 41.0 innings, striking out 42 while boasting an ERA of 3.29.

At the dish, Cohen has played a variety of different lineups. Brett Pirtle leads the team in at-bats at 141 and is hitting .333 with 15 RBI and 19 runs. Wes Rea is hitting .246 but leads the team with 28 RBI and eight extra-base hits, including a team-high three homers. Alex Detz has driven in 24 runs as well.

The only pitcher on the roster who pitched in last year's game against Mississippi State in Hoover is junior closer Keaton Steele. In one of his best outings of the season, Steele relieved Rob Zastryzny and tossed seven shutout innings, striking out five and allowing eight hits. He threw 105 pitches in that outing.


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 79, 11 ahead of second-place South Carolina which has 90. The Tigers rank fifth nationally and first in the SEC with their miniscule 2.28 BB/9 average.

Aside from ranking fifth nationally in walks per nine innings, the Tigers also rank in the top-10 in strikeout-walk ratio. In fact, Hobbs' hurlers rank sixth nationally at 3.10, a mark that ranks first in the pitching-heavy SEC.

Mizzou junior closer Keaton Steele ranks 12th nationally and first in the SEC with his nine saves this season. He is just three back of the Mizzou single season record (12). In his seven saves, Steele has been virtually untouchable. He has a 0.00 ERA in 15.1 innings with a 0.78 WHIP in those nine outings.

The bullpen trio of Keaton Steele, Breckin Williams and Austin Tribby has been as good as any trio in the SEC this season. Steele has an SEC-best nine saves, Tribby an SEC-best 23 appearances. Williams currently has an ERA of 1.42. 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 26 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 five pitching starts. In his last 25 games in the leadoff spot, Anderson is hitting .333 with an OBP of .424 while slugging .535. He has scored a team-high 21 runs and driven in 14 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 16 of the last 25 games and is reaching base at a .553 clip when leading off an 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 23 appearances. In fact, he is leading the team in opponent batting average at .222. Six of his team-leading 23 appearances have been to get one batter - usually a lefty - out. He is eighth nationally with his 23 appearances.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 3.10 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 3.10 clip.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 245-79 - 3.10
    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 2.28 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 2.28 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: 2.28

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.

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 of 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.

The Tigers hit the road for five straight games, beginning with a midweek tour of some big league ballparks. Tuesday, Mizzou will take on Wichita State at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City before renewing its border showdown with Illinois at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTiger.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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