Mizzou Baseball Set For Series at No. 6 Florida



April 24, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (19-21, 6-12 SEC) at #8 Florida (27-15, 12-6 SEC)
When   Friday - 6 p.m. (CT) | Saturday - 11 a.m. (CT) | Sunday - Noon (CT)
Location Gainesville, Fla. | McKethan Stadium at Perry Field
Tickets Click Here
TV Fox Sports Midwest - Saturday (Dave Neal, Larry Conley)
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT- Sunday | ESPN3 - Saturday
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | Florida
Series History Mizzou Trails UF, 7-2
Last Meeting Florida took 2 of 3 in Columbia
Streak Mizzou - Won 1
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

The Mizzou baseball team, fresh off of a pair of midweek wins at Major Leagues stadiums, will resume SEC play at No. 8 and SEC East-leader Florida this weekend for a three-game series in Gainesville. The series opener will be Friday night at McKethan Stadium at 6 p.m. with Brett Graves squaring off against UF's Logan Shore at 6 p.m. (CT). Saturday's game will be televised on Fox Sport Midwest at 11 a.m. (CT) as Eric Anderson gets the ball for Mizzou. The Sunday finale will be held at noon (CT).

This weekend will be Mizzou's seventh SEC series of the season and it will be the sixth time that Mizzou has played a nationally-ranked opponent in those seven series. Despite playing on the road against a ranked opponent this weekend, Mizzou has actually been very good in those series this season. In fact, two of its series wins this season have come on the road against ranked teams - at No. 21 Auburn and at No 15 Kentucky. Those are the last two series that Mizzou has played on the road as well.

Looking at Mizzou's weekend rotation, there is a noticeable shake-up in the normal rotation. Eric Anderson had been starting Sundays for Mizzou, but he is one of the best two-way players in the SEC this season. By moving Anderson to Saturdays, the Tiger coaching staff hopes to get more out of Anderson since he will not have hit in two previous games in a weekend series prior to his start.

Mizzou played a pair of midweek games at Major League Stadiums, first at Kauffman Stadium in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame Classic at The K and then in the annual Braggin' Rights at Busch Stadium game against Illinois. Senior Dillon Everett lined a single down the right field line on the first pitch he saw of his fifth at-bat, helping Mizzou walk off with an extra-inning win over Wichita State at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night. The senior finished the day with two RBI, the first coming on a double in the second inning. The victory was the first for the Tigers in Kauffman Stadium, and Everett's single ended a five-game extra-innings losing streak. Everett's knock was the first walk-off hit for Mizzou since Ben Turner's (St. Charles, Mo.) walk-off single against High Point on March 16, 2012. On Wednesday at Busch, sophomore Peter Fairbanks tossed the best outing of his career, going 8.0 innings while allowing just four hits and two earned runs while striking out three and walking none in a 5-2 win.

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 23 games against RPI top-50 teams, posting a 9-14 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 23 games against RPI top-50 competition.

The Gators come into the weekend as the top team in the SEC East with a 12-6 conference record. The Gators own a two-game lead in the east standings and are tied for the top spot among all SEC teams with Alabama. The Gators are 28-14 overall and are ranked as high as No. 8 nationally in the four major polls. The Gators had won six in a row before dropping a midweek contest to Jacksonville on Tuesday. Mizzou will face freshman righty Logan Shore (4-2, 1.83 ERA) on Friday night. Shore leads the team with 59.0 innings pitched and has struck out 36. Aaron Rhodes (4-2, 2.51 ERA) will get the start Saturday and Danny Young (5-0, 1.80 ERA) will start Sunday. Rhodes leads the team with 43 strikeouts while Young has a team-high five wins. Young and Rhodes both pitched in a 15-inning game between Mizzou and Florida last season. Young was tagged for six hits and three earned runs over 2.1 innings while Rhodes tossed 1.2 shutout innings in relief of Young. Florida won that game, 4-3, in the 15th inning.

Mizzou and Florida have met nine times in history with the first meeting coming at the 1981 NCAA South Regional in which Florida eliminated Gene McArtor's Tigers from the tournament with a 7-3 win. In all, Florida holds a 7-2 advantage in the all-time series after taking two of three in Columbia last season. Tim Jamieson is 2-2 all-time vs. Florida after the series last year and a 14-5 win in 2006. Florida was ranked No. 1 that year while the Tigers checked in at No. 12 nationally. Future big leaguer Max Scherzer started that game for Mizzou and went 7.0 innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run while striking out eight. Current graduate assistant coach Hunter Mense also played in that game, going 3-for-5 at the dish with three RBI and two runs scored, including an RBI double in the first and a stolen base. Below is a look at the meetings between Mizzou and Florida.

    Mizzou vs. Florida Series History
    • 1981 - 7-3, Florida at NCAA South Regional
    • 1984 - 6-5, Florida
    • 1992 - 10-2, Florida
    • 1992 - 8-3, Florida
    • 1992 - 4-3, Florida
    • 2006 - 14-5, Mizzou
    • 2013 - 8-6, Florida
    • 2013 - 4-3 (15) - Florida
    • 2013 - 8-2 - Mizzou

Mizzou and Florida met last season in Columbia, so plenty of the current Tiger hurlers have faced the Gators. All but one Tiger hurler that returns to this year's roster has an ERA of under three against the Gators and all three weekend starters saw action against the Gators last season.

    - Friday starter Brett Graves tossed 5.1 innings in a Saturday start a year ago, allowing just five hits and two walks while surrendering a run. He struck out two and owns a career ERA of 1.69 against the Gators.

    - Saturday starter Eric Anderson tossed 2.0 innings, allowing just one unearned run with two strikeouts, two hits and a walk. He earned the loss in a 15-inning Saturday affair, which was started by Graves.

    - Sunday starter John Miles earned a two-inning save in the Sunday affair, tossing 2.1 innings, allowing two hits, an unearned run with a walk and two strikeouts. He was key in the Sunday win in the series.

    - Closer Keaton Steele pitched in the 15-inning affair on Saturday, tossing 7.0 innings, striking out five with six hits, six walks and two earned runs.

    - Alec Rash tossed 3.0 shutout innings, allowing just three hits, three walks with a K.

After playing a three-game series with Florida last year in Columbia, plenty of Tiger hitters have faced Gator pitching. Below is a look.

    - Josh Lester hit .545 with six hits in 11 at-bats, driving in a run. He also walked once for an OBP of .583.

    - Logan Pearson is a .462 career hitter against Florida and of his six hits a year ago, one was a homer and another a triple. He slugged .462 and walked three more times in the series for an OBP of .588 as he was arguably the Tigers' top hitter in the series last year. He scored three runs and drove in four more. Pearson slugged .846 and boasted an OPS of 1.434 against Florida.

    - Dillon Everett is a .429 career hitter with a triple and an RBI and a pair of runs scored against Florida.

    - Dylan Kelly is a .286 career hitter with a double, two RBI and a run scored against Florida.

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 94, 16 ahead of second-place Ole Miss which has 110. The Tigers rank ninth nationally and first in the SEC with their miniscule 2.34 BB/9 average.

Aside from ranking ninth nationally in walks per nine innings, the Tigers also rank in the top-15 in strikeout-walk ratio. In fact, Hobbs' hurlers rank sixth nationally at 2.97, a mark that ranks second in the SEC, trailing only South Carolina.

Mizzou junior closer Keaton Steele ranks 17th nationally and second in the SEC with his nine saves this season. He is just three back of the Mizzou single season record (12). In his nine 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.

Another key to the Tigers' success over the last 29 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 six pitching starts. In his last 27 games in the leadoff spot, Anderson is hitting .327 with an OBP of .420 while slugging .518. 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 18 of 27 games as a leadoff hitter and is reaching base at a .549 clip when leading off an inning.

Over his last five starts, Eric Anderson has been dominating opposing pitchers as he has arguably been the best Sunday starter in the SEC. Over his last three starts he owns a 29-3 strikeout-walk ratio and it is even better over his last five outings at 41-6. He has had quality starts in each of his last five outings as well. Anderson ranks first in the SEC and 21st nationally in K-BB ratio.

Junior righty Brett Graves seems to be helping his draft stock with every start this season. After tossing 7.0 innings, allowing just six hits and two runs last Friday against No. 22 Mississippi State, he has tossed at least seven innings in seven of his 10 starts. He did not walk a batter against Mississippi State, marking the first time he has done that since Feb. 22 at Wake Forest. He owns a streak of seven straight starts with one or less walks and is walking just 1.6 batters per nine, the best mark of his career.

Another key cog to the Tiger lineup has been the re-emergence of Logan Pearson. After missing 15 games with a hamstring injury, Pearson has been one of the Tigers' top hitters since returning to the lineup. In fact, in the 22 games he has played since returning to the lineup, he is hitting a team-best .347 with seven extra-base hits (six doubles, one triple) and is reaching base at a .466 clip in that span. Only Eric Anderson has put up better power numbers for the Tigers than Pearson in that span as well. Last weekend against No. 22 Mississippi State, Pearson was on fire, batting .429 with two runs, two doubles and a triple in three games. He slugged .714 and had an OBP of .467. He tallied a career-best four hits, including two doubles, in the series finale on Sunday, also scoring a pair of runs in the losing effort. He was 2-for-6 with three runs scored in the midweek games.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 2.97 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 2.97 clip.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 279-94 - 2.97
    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 2.34 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 2.34 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: 2.34

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 will return home for a Tuesday game against in-state foe SEMO on April 29 before taking on Vanderbilt in a weekend series at Taylor Stadium, beginning May 2. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTiger.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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