Tigers Hit the Road For SEC Series at No. 11 South Carolina



May 7, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (20-27, 6-18 SEC) at #11 South Carolina (36-13, 13-11 SEC)
When   Friday - 6 p.m. | Saturday - 2:15 p.m. | Sunday - 12:30 p.m.
Location Columbia, S.C. | Carolina Stadium
Tickets Click Here
TV FSMidwest Plus (Friday, Saturday) | ESPN3 - Saturday
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Friday | GT - Saturday | GT - Sunday
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | South Carolina
Series History South Carolina leads, 2-1
Last Meeting SC took 2 of 3 in Columbia, Mo., in 2013
Streak Mizzou - Won 1
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

Mizzou will play its penultimate SEC series of the 2014 season as it heads to Columbia, S.C., for a three-game series with the No. 11 Gamecocks at Carolina Stadium. Friday and Saturday's contests will air live on Fox Sports Midwest-Plus in the Mid-Missouri area. Friday's game will begin at 6 p.m. (CT) and Saturday's contest will start at 2:15 p.m. (CT). First pitch in the series finale Sunday will be at 12:30 p.m. (CT).

The Gamecocks come into the weekend boasting the nation's No. 11 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. With this being the Tigers' ninth SEC series this season, the national-ranking for the Gamecocks means that Mizzou will play its eighth SEC series against a ranked opponent this season.

Injuries to Tiger starting pitchers have shuffled this weekend's rotation as the Tigers have yet to announce starters for the Saturday and Sunday contests. Despite the injuries to those starters, Mizzou was very good on the mound last Saturday and Sunday against No. 9 Vanderbilt, which ranks second in the SEC in extra-base hits. In fact, Mizzou allowed just four earned runs over the final two games of the Vanderbilt series, good for an ERA of 2.00. Peter Fairbanks tossed 7.0 innings without an earned run in relief of an injured John Miles Saturday before Keaton Steele tossed a complete game loss on Sunday, allowing just seven hits and three earned runs. Mizzou's Saturday and Sunday pitchers had a 15-2 strikeout-walk ratio last weekend and averaged just 1.00 walks per nine innings with a 0.83 WHIP.

Mizzou went 1-3 last week, starting with a midweek, come-from-behind, 11-inning thriller against in-state rival SEMO on Tuesday, before a three-game sweep at the hands of No. 9 Vanderbilt. The sweep over the weekend moves Mizzou's SEC losing streak to nine consecutive games. On Tuesday, fifth-year senior Eric Anderson, who did not pitch last week due to elbow tightness, made his presence felt at the plate in the come-from-behind effort over Ohio Valley leader SEMO. Anderson knocked a two-out, two run double in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 5-5, sending the game to extra innings - Mizzou's fifth extra-inning game in nine contests at that point. He then roped a walk-off triple into right center and advanced home on a throwing error as he won the game for Mizzou with his first career walk-off hit. Mizzou finishes the season with a 2-1 mark against teams from Missouri after that win over SEMO. Mizzou then hosted Vanderbilt for a three-game set, beginning Friday in an ace-off between projected first-round draft picks Brett Graves and Tyler Beede. Mizzou built a 3-1 lead through three innings, but Vanderbilt tallied seven two-out hits through the first four innings to wear out Graves and the Commodores tagged on six runs in the final four innings to earn an 8-3 win. Three Tigers tallied multi-hit efforts in the loss. On Saturday, Mizzou fell 5-1 as starter John Miles had to leave the game in the third inning with an arm issue. The Tigers changed to sophomore Peter Fairbanks, who was tagged for four unearned runs in that third inning as Vandy scored all five of its runs in the third after Miles was removed from the game and before Fairbanks settled in. Fairbanks tossed a total of 7.0 innings and allowed just five hits and a walk. Two of his five hits and his walk came after he was rushed to the mound in the third after Miles' injury. Over his last six innings, he allowed just three hits, no runs, no walks and fanned three in a shutdown effort that saved the Tiger bullpen. Keaton Steele tossed a complete game on Sunday in a 3-1 loss, becoming the first Tiger since Graves in 2013 to toss a complete game in a loss.

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 29 games against RPI top-50 teams. Nearly 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. Vanderbilt will be another top-50 opponent this weekend.

South Carolina, at 36-13 and 13-11 in SEC play, is coming off a weekend series with Georgia where the Bulldogs took two out of three from the Gamecocks in Athens. Catcher Grayson Greiner put together an impressive series, hitting .400 (4-for-10) with two home runs, four RBIs, three runs, and three walks. Jack Wynkoop picked up the win in the middle game, going six innings, giving up two runs and earning three Ks.

A lights-out bullpen has helped South Carolina to an SEC best 2.09 ERA this season. The Gamecocks have six pitchers who have made at least ten appearances and have an ERA under 1.00. Closer Joel Seddon has earned 13 saves on the season, pitching 32.1 innings and posting a 0.56 ERA. Cody Mincey has four wins in relief appearances earning a 0.61 ERA and has 41 Ks. The starters have also performed well for the Gamecocks. Their three main starters, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Wynkoop, and Wil Crowe, have a combined record of 18-10 in their 36 starts for South Carolina. Wynkoop has the lowest ERA of the three at 2.21.

On Offense, the Gamecocks have hit .280 as a team. Connor Grayson leads the team with seven home runs and 36 RBIs. Connor Bright and Kyle Martin are also hitting over .300 for the Gamecocks, hitting .336 and .335 respectively. The Gamecocks rank fourth in the SEC in RBIs with 236. Tanner English leads the team with 12 stolen bases.

On Friday night, Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.33 ERA) will get the start against Mizzou's Brett Graves (3-4, 3.25 ERA). Last year, Graves pitched the first game of a Saturday doubleheader for the Tigers, going the complete nine innings in a 2-0 loss to South Carolina. Graves gave up two runs (one earned) on seven hits while having four Ks. This is Montgomery's first appearance against the Tigers. Montgomery leads South Carolina in strikeouts with 69.

On Saturday, South Carolina will send Jack Wynkoop (6-3, 2.21 ERA) to the mound. Wynkoop has allowed the least amount of runs (25) among the Gamecocks' regular starters. Mizzou has not announced a starter for Saturday.

On Sunday, Wil Crowe (6-3, 3.15 ERA) will get the start of the Gamecocks. Crowe has allowed the least amount of hits (64) among South Carolina's regular starters. Mizzou has not announced a starter for Sunday.

The Tigers and Gamecocks have played just one prior series in history and that came last season in Columbia at Taylor Stadium. The Gamecocks won two out of three in a series filled with good pitching performances. Both teams combined to score 11 runs over the three games.

    Mizzou vs. South Carolina
    • 2013 - South Carolina - 4-1
    • 2013 - South Carolina - 2-0
    • 2013 - Mizzou - 4-0
Mizzou lost two out of three against South Carolina last season, despite only giving up six runs. Five Tigers pitched against the Gamecocks, three of which are on this year's roster. Below is a look at notable pitchers against the Gamecocks.

    - Brett Graves pitched a complete game, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and four strikeouts. Graves suffered the loss in his performance.

    - Keaton Steele tossed six shutout innings in a relief appearance win in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader against the Gamecocks. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out seven; leading the Tigers to a 4-0 win.

    - Alec Rash made one start against the Gamecocks, pitching 2.1 innings, allowing two hits and two walks.

Mizzou hit .232 against South Carolina last year scoring five runs in three games. The Tigers hit four doubles off Gamecock pitching last season. Below is a look at some notable hitters heading into the weekend.

    - Dillon Everett went 4-for-9 with a double in last year's series.

    - Dylan Kelly is a career .333 hitter against South Carolina (4-for-12) with an RBI and a run scored. He also has two doubles.

    - Kendall Keeton hit .286 (4-for-14) with an RBI and a run scored in last year's series.

    - Logan Pearson tallied an RBI against South Carolina.

    - Josh Lester has scored a run in his career against the Gamecocks.

Injuries to Tiger starting pitchers have shuffled this weekend's rotation as the Tigers have yet to announce starters for the Saturday and Sunday contests. Despite the injuries to those starters, Mizzou was very good on the mound last Saturday and Sunday against No. 9 Vanderbilt, which ranks second in the SEC in extra-base hits. In fact, Mizzou allowed just four earned runs over the final two games of the Vanderbilt series, good for an ERA of 2.00. Peter Fairbanks tossed 7.0 innings without an earned run in relief of an injured John Miles Saturday before Keaton Steele tossed a complete game loss on Sunday, allowing just seven hits and three earned runs. Mizzou's Saturday and Sunday pitchers had a 15-2 strikeout-walk ratio last weekend and averaged just 1.00 walks per nine innings with a 0.83 WHIP.

Senior catcher Dylan Kelly has been a bright spot all season long for the Tigers. In fact, he is hitting a team-best .335 this year, but in SEC play he has been even better, hitting at a .345 clip. That mark ranks him 11th in the SEC and third among catchers, trailing only Florida's Taylor Gushue and Ole Miss' Will Allen. He is .001 ahead of South Carolina catcher as two of the league's top hitting catchers will be on display this weekend in Columbia.

Mizzou closer Keaton Steele was forced into the weekend rotation after an injury to Eric Anderson and he made his first start of the season last Sunday against Vanderbilt. Steele tossed his second career complete game but was tagged with a loss despite allowing just three runs on seven hits with one walks and seven strikeouts. Since a midseason hiccup in mid-March, Steele has been lights out in his last 12 appearances. He has five saves, one complete game and owns an ERA of 1.89, a team-best in that span. He has tossed 33.1 innings, allowing just 24 hits while striking out 20. He is holding batters to .211 hitting in that span.

Over the last 10 Tiger games, it may be a little suprising to some which Tiger leads the team in ERA. Sophomore Peter Fairbanks owns a team-best 2.08 ERA over the last 10 games as he has appeared in five of those contests, pitching a team-high 21.2 innings, allowing just 16 hits. In his last five appearances, he has held the opposition to just .213 hitting. Against Vanderbilt last Saturday, Fairbanks took over for an injured John Miles and allowed four unearned runs before settling in to allow just three hits over his final six innings, keeping Vanderbilt off the scoreboard.

Sophomore lefty Austin Tribby leads the SEC and is ranked 12th nationally in pitching appearances with 28 this season. He has appeared in nearly 60-percent of the Tigers' games this season.

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 109, 16 ahead of second-place Florida which has 124. The Tigers rank sixth nationally and first in the SEC with their miniscule 2.31 BB/9 average. Mizzou has walked no batters in seven games this season and has walked two or fewer in 30 contests this season. Mizzou walked just two Vanderbilt batters last weekend against 15 strikeouts. For the seventh time this season, Mizzou walked no batters in the Friday night game against the Commodores.

Aside from ranking sixth nationally in walks per nine innings, the Tigers also rank in the top-10 in strikeout-walk ratio. In fact, Hobbs' hurlers rank 10th nationally at 2.86, a mark that ranks third in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 2.86 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 2.86 clip.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 312-109 - 2.86
    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 2.30 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 2.30 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: 2.30

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.

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.

Mizzou will close the regular season against Arkansas at home for a Thursday-Saturday series. The games will be at 6 p.m., 6 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTiger.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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