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First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team will head to Waco, Texas, this week for a three-game series with Baylor, beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The Tigers and Bears will also play at 3 p.m. on Friday and the series finale will be played at noon on Saturday, giving both teams the day off for Easter Sunday. The series will mark the Tigers fourth series with a Big 12 south division foe this year. They have played just one against teams from the north.
Series History Baylor leads the all-time series with the Tigers, 29-24-1. Last year, Mizzou dropped the first two games of the series before rallying to win the series finale. Mizzou had won five straight against Baylor before dropping two of three games in each of the past two seasons. The last time that Mizzou and Baylor met in Waco (2009), the Bears took two of three from the Tigers.
Swinging A Hot Bat In the Tigers' last seven games, sophomore Eric Garcia leads the team in hitting (.429), slugging (.571), walks (five), OBP (.571) and doubles (three). He currently owns a season-best seven-game hitting streak, which is the second-best by any Tiger this season. With a hit in the series opener, Garcia will tie Brannon Champagne for the team's longest hit streak this season at eight games.
More McCormick Senior lefty reliever Phil McCormick has been one of the Tigers' top players in Big 12 play this season. In fact, he ranks fourth in the Big 12 in ERA in league games at 1.17. He is also second in the Big 12 in opponent batting average as he is holding opposing hitters to just a .156 average in league games this season. He also leads the Big 12 in appearances this season with 22 and he is 15th overall in all games in ERA this season at 3.11.
Grand Theft Base Mizzou continues to ranks second in the Big 12 in stolen bases with 71 this season, just one behind league leader Texas Tech (72). Mizzou has three individuals ranked in the league's top eight and six players with at least eight stolen bases this season.
Last Time Out
Mizzou dropped two of three in a series against Kansas at Taylor Stadium last weekend. The Tigers were topped 8-3 on Friday before winning in walk-off fashion on Saturday, 3-2. In the rubber match, Mizzou struggled to hit with men on base as KU shutout the Tigers, 6-0, to earn the series win. In all, the Tigers left 34 men on base in the three games. The walk-off single by Blake Brown in Saturday's win marked the Tigers' second walk-off win this season. Despite the series win for KU, it was just the Jayhawks' first series win in Columbia since 1983 as Mizzou has dominated the series at home over the past 28 seasons.
The Tigers tallied their second walk-off win of the season last Saturday against Kansas, snapping a season-long nine-game losing streak. Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown knocked a 2-0 slider into right field, scoring Brannon Champagne from second to complete the win for Mizzou. The Tigers' other walk-off win came against then-No. 7 ranked Oklahoma on March 25 on an 11th-inning single by Eric Garcia, scoring Jonah Schmidt. Mizzou is 2-2 this season in games decided in the last at-bat this season and is 3-0 in extra-inning contests.
Garcia Heating Up
As noted throughout the season, sophomore Eric Garcia has been a much better hitter at home this season, but he has actually been swinging the Tigers' hottest bat over the past seven games. He leads the team in that span with a .429 average, tallying nine hits in 21 at-bats. He has also walked five times and been hit by two pitches, owning an OBP of .571. He is riding a current seven-game hit streak as well and is 2-2 in the stolen base department in that span. In the last seven games, Garcia leads the team in hitting (.429), slugging (.571), walks (five), OBP (.571) and doubles (three).
Santo Has a Nice Week
Senior shortstop Jesse Santo also had a nice week last week, hitting .400 while owning a team-best OBP of .600 as he drew four walks and was hit by a pitch, going along with four hits. Just like his middle-infield counterpart Eric Garica, Santo has also been hot over the last two weeks, hitting .350 with an OBP of .500. He has started all seven games at shortstop in that span. Santo leads the team with a .353 average in league games this season as well, ranking him eighth in the conference.
Stites With Another Good Start
Junior starter Matt Stites turned in a gutty performance in his start against Kansas last Saturday. He threw 6.1 innings and gave up just one earned run in the contest while throwing 115 pitches. He saved the bullpen as well after being hit by a line drive on his left shin, staying in the game for the next four outs, gutting through the pain. He also struck out seven batters in the game, just one off of his career high at the Division I level. He now leads the team in innings pitched (56.2) and is tied for the team lead with 46 strikeouts this season.
Schmidt Great in Big 12 Play
Senior Jonah Schmidt has been arguably the Tigers' top player in Big 12 play this season. He is hitting .326 (up from .292 in non-conference games) and is slugging .535 with six RBI and four runs. He has 14 hits in 43 at-bats with a double, a triple and a pair of home runs. At Texas, he became the first player this season to homer off of Longhorn ace Taylor Jungmann. His .535 slugging percentage has him ranked eighth in the Big 12 during league games this season.
Brown Powers Up in Big 12 Play
Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown has enjoyed a power surge during Big 12 play as he leads the team in home runs (three), RBI (seven), slugging (.575) and runs scored (six). His three homers have him tied for fourth in the Big 12 during league play while his .575 slugging percentage has him ranked fifth during league games this season.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Staying on the topic of Blake Brown, the Tiger sophomore also ranks fifth in the league with 26 walks this season and is fifth with 15 steals, making him one of the most valuable players on the team. He homered in three straight games at Oklahoma State, becoming the first Tiger to do so since Greg Folgia did in 2009 in games against Missouri State and Kansas.
Walk This Way
A pair of Tigers rank in the Big 12's top 10 in walks this season. Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown is third in the Big 12 with 26 walks and sophomore infielder Eric Garcia is ranked fourth with 25. Mizzou joins Texas Tech as the only teams with two athletes ranked in the league's top five in bases on balls this season. In all, Mizzou has 154 walks as a team this season, which ranks fourth in the Big 12. Texas Tech leads the league with 178.
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 22 appearances this season and is ranked sixth in the league with his .198 opponent batting average this season. He leads the team with an ERA of 3.11, which also ranks 15th in the league.
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 37.2. 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 7.88 Ks per nine innings pitched this season.
McCormick Among Top Pitchers in League Play
Phil McCormick has obviously been very good this season, but he has been even better in league play. In fact, he is fourth in the Big 12 in ERA during league games at 1.17 while limiting batters to just a .156 batting average in league games, which is second in the conference. Only Texas' Corey Knebel has a better opponent batting average in league games this season.
McCormick threw 2.2 innings of work against Kansas last Saturday, allowing just one hit while earning his fourth win of the season, a team-best. McCormick has given up more than one earned run in just three of his 22 appearances this season and has allowed no earned runs in 15 of his 22 appearances.
Grand Theft Base
Mizzou slipped to second in the Big 12 Conference in stolen bases this week with 71 through 36 games this season. The 71 steals are just one behind league-leader Texas Tech, who enters the week with 72. Mizzou stole five bases last weekend, including a 2-3 series for Blake Brown.
More on Steals
In all, three Tigers rank in the Big 12's top 10 in stolen bases and all three rank among the top eight base stealers in the league. Blake Brown leads the team with 15, ranking him fifth in the league. Both Eric Garcia and Brannon Champagne have 11 steals on the season, ranking them in a tie for eighth overall in the league. Mizzou and Texas Tech are the only two schools in the Big 12 to have at least three players ranked in the top eight in the conference.
Three other Tigers have been impressive on the base paths as well this season. Conner Mach has nine steals while both Jonah Schmidt and Jesse Santo have eight, showing that the steals for Mizzou have been a true team approach this season.
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.
Buehler Seeing a Lot of Work Lately
Senior Brad Buehler has been a busy man out of the bullpen in the Tigers' last several games. In fact, he has pitched in four of the Tigers' last five games dating back to their series finale at Oklahoma State. In that span, he has thrown 10.1 innings of work and allowed just four earned runs while striking out 11 batters. He matched his season-high with 4.0 innings pitched against Kansas on Sunday, scattering just three hits and striking out a season-best five batters in the contest.
Hitting Streaks to Watch
Coming into the weekend, several Tigers are carrying hit streaks, including Eric Garcia, who is just one game shy of matching the Tigers' longest hit streak this season. He has hit safely in each of his last seven games after tallying a hit in all three games against Kansas. A hit on Thursday would give him a hit in eight straight games, tying Brannon Champagne for the longest by a Tiger his season. Blake Brown carries a three-game streak into the Baylor series, just one off of his season-best of four.
On the Road Again
Mizzou will be back on the road this week after playing four straight games at home as they will begin the four-game road trip with a three-game series at Baylor. The road trip will conclude with a mid-week tilt against Eastern Illinois at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo., next Tuesday. After that, Mizzou will be home once again for another mid-week game with Missouri State before welcoming top-10 foe Texas A&M to Taylor Stadium.
Tigers' Big Z
Freshman southpaw Rob Zastryzny has emerged as the Tigers' top starter this season as he boasts a team-best 3.60 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 (46) and ranks second in innings pitched (55.0). 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. He has had just one bad start in league play and that came against KU last Friday.
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.
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.
The Tigers will play a pair of midweek games upon their return from Baylor, beginning with a contest against Eastern Illinois at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo., at 6:30 p.m. on April 26. The Tigers will then host Missouri State at home on April 27 at 6 p.m. Big 12 play will then resume on April 29 as top-10 ranked Texas A&M pays visit to Mizzou for a three-game series. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.