May 8, 2013
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
Mizzou will head to Alabama for its final regular season road trip of the 2013 season as it will play a three-game series with the Crimson Tide at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The series will commence at 6:35 p.m. on Friday and resume at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox SportSouth. The Sunday series finale will be played at 1 p.m.
Series History Mizzou and Alabama have never met, but Mizzou has played nine games against SEC West schools this season, compiling just a 2-7 record. Alabama comes into the weekend series with a 27-21 overall record, including an 11-12 mark in league play. Mizzou enters the Alabama series at just 4-15 on the road this season. Below are some notables on the road in 2013.
Notables on the Road
Dylan Kelly leads all Tigers with a .313 average on the road.
Dane Opel is a .300 hitter on the road and leads the team in RBI (10), slugging, OBP and runs.
Josh Lester has hit both of his homers this season in road games.
Shane Segovia has a team-leading six doubles on the road this season.
The Final Push As Mizzou heads to Alabama this weekend, it will be looking to shore up a return trip to the Heart of Dixie and a berth in the SEC Tournament. Currently, Mizzou sits at 7-17 in SEC during its inaugural season. That record is good enough for 12th place in the league, ahead of Tennessee (6-16) and Georgia (5-16). The top 12 teams qualify to go to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, so the Tigers need to take care of business at Alabama.
The Race For Hoover
11th Place - Auburn - 9-15 (..375) - Mizzou owns tiebreaker - Remaining: at Florida, vs. Arkansas
12th Place - Mizzou - 7-17 (.292)
13th Place - Tennessee - 6-16 (.273) - UT owns tiebreaker - Remaining: at Arkansas, vs. Texas A&M
14th Place - Georgia - 5-16 (.238) - Mizzou owns tiebreaker - Remaining: at South Carolina, vs. Florida
REcapping LAst Week
Mizzou lost four consecutive games last week, dropping the team to 15-28 on the season and 7-17 in SEC play. The Tigers lost to in-state rival SEMO, 9-7, on Tuesday (April 30) despite carrying a 5-3 lead into the sixth inning of that game. Mizzou was then swept at Texas A&M in three straight games over the weekend in College Station. On Friday night, the Tigers wasted a great start from Rob Zastryzny, who went 8.0 innings, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven. Mizzou scored in the first inning of that game but couldn't overcome three consecutive hits to open the fourth inning as the Aggies plated their only two runs of the game in that frame. The Tigers again held a 5-3 lead, this time on Saturday headed into the ninth inning at Texas A&M, but the defense committed four errors in the inning, which led to three unearned runs to give Texas A&M a walkoff, 6-5, win. All six runs in the game were unearned as Brett Graves pitched well enough to earn his second win of the season, going 6.2 innings, scattering just seven hits while striking out four and walking none with his only blemish being three unearned runs in the first inning. Freshman Josh Lester hit his second career homer, a game-tying three-run shot in the sixth inning and junior infielder Shane Segovia hit a go-ahead two-run single with two outs in the seventh, but the defense could not hold up in the ninth ... Mizzou again struck first on Sunday at Texas A&M as Logan Pearson led off the game with a walk and was batted around to score on a Dylan Kelly single to center field with two outs, but that was the only run production for the Tigers on the day as they lost 4-1.
Rob Z Approaching Career Top-10 in Strikeouts
Junior lefty Rob Zastryzny struck out seven Texas A&M batters last Friday in a 2-1 defeat, moving his career total to 217 over his three years. That puts him just six strikeouts shy of cracking the all-time top-10 in career strikeouts in Mizzou history. In his career, Zastryzny has started 29 Friday night games and has been the Tigers' Friday night guy since his freshman year. Once he cracks the top 10, his name will stand alongside such Tiger greats as Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson and Nick Tepesch.
Opel Lands on Sportscenter Top Plays
Senior outfielder Dane Opel did something that most college players dream of when he landed at #1 on ESPN's Sportscenter Top Plays last weekend after robbing Texas A&M's Troy Stein of a homer. He lept over the wall in right field and ended up halfway over the wall while bringing the ball back. The video has since went viral with nearly 7,000 views on YouTube and landing on the front page of Yahoo.com.
Pitching Has Been Great Lately
Despite Mizzou's struggles as of late, the blame cannot be put on the Tiger pitching staff. In fact, over the last 10 games, the Tigers' ERA is a very good 2.41 while in the last eight SEC games, the Tiger pitching staff boasts a combined ERA of 1.63. In those eight league games, Mizzou has allowed just 13 earned runs over 71.2 innings pitched. Heading into the Tigers' April 6 contest at Georgia, the Tiger pitching staff owned a very solid 3.28 ERA. But in its next seven games, the staff really struggled, posting a staff ERA of 9.00 while allowing opponents to hit an eye-popping .392 with a WHIP of 2.19. It's no surprise that the Tigers went 2-5 in those seven games, but since that point, the pitching has seemed to return to form in the last 10 games.
Everett Launches First Career Homer
Mizzou junior shortstop Dillon Everett launched his first career homer against SEMO last Tuesday, blasting a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left center in the fifth inning, which at the time was the go-ahead run, only Mizzou couldn't hold the lead. Everett, who has played a lot since his freshman year including all but one game last season, went 349 at-bats before his first homer.
Lester Plays Every Infield Position
Mizzou freshman Josh Lester played at second base for Mizzou last Tuesday night against SEMO as he has now played every infield position for the Tigers in his first year in black and gold. He has seen the most time at first base, playing in 20 games there, but he started six games at short while Dillon Everett and Shane Segovia were recovering from injuries and he has played at third base seven times as well. Lester has been a key contributor for Mizzou with 21 RBI. He had a huge game-tying, three-run homer at Texas A&M last weekend in the Saturday game before the Tigers blew the lead late. He is third on the team with 21 RBI. Not only that, but he has just four errors on the season, a team-low among Tiger infielders and leads the Tiger infielders with a .984 fielding percentage.
Second Inning a Big one For Tigers
Another trend for the Tigers has been their ability to score in the second inning this season as it has outscored its opponents, 26-6, in the second this season. In fact, the second and fourth innings (26-18) are the only two innings in which Mizzou is outscoring its opponents this season and the plus-20 margin in the second inning is clearly the Tigers' largest in any inning this season.
Steele Continues to Do It All
After becoming the first SEC player to earn SEC Player of the Week and SEC Pitcher of the Week in the same season since Tennessee's Scott Schroeffel in 1996, a span of 17 years, it was pretty evident that Keaton Steele could do it all, but did something that hadn't been done in nearly 12 years again in Mizzou's Sunday game at Vanderbilt. He became the first Tiger to hit in the three-hole while starting a game on the mound since May 12, 2001, when Ryan Stegall did so in an 8-5 win against Texas A&M.
But that's not all for Steele. He leads the Tigers in a pair of categories that don't often go hand-in-hand as he is team's leader in wins on the mound (four) and home runs at the plate (four). After a nationwide inquiry, it appears that Steele is the only player in a power conference to lead the team in pitching wins while batting from the cleanup spot. There were several two-way players at mid-majors that led their team in wins while hitting in the middle of the order, but Steele was the only regular cleanup hitter in a power conference to do so. Steele tossed his first career complete game in a win over Auburn last Sunday and then homered in the second game of the doubleheader.
Logan Pearson Shines in Leadoff Spot
Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson made a change to his batting order prior to the Florida series as he moved Logan Pearson to the leadoff spot, and the move paid off. In fact, Pearson has reached base safely and scored to lead off five of the 11 games since he has been in the leadoff spot, including twice last weekend at Texas A&M. Since his move to the leadoff spot, Pearson leads the team in hitting at .333 while slugging a team-best .462 with a team-best .480 on-base percentage. In those 11 games, he has scored seven runs and driven in four more.
Pearson Also Very Good With RISP
Another element of Pearson's game that has flown under the radar has been his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. In fact, Pearson leads the team with a .355 clip with runners in scoring position and also leads the team in batting with runners on base a .328. Pearson is the only Tiger hitting better than .300 in each of the two categories.
Segovia Swinging a Hot Bat
After leading the team in a lot of offensive categories in the fall and being penciled in at shortstop as the best defensive infielder in the preseason, Shane Segovia had been fighting nagging injuries all season but he finally had his day last Sunday in a doubleheader against Auburn. In the two games, we went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored while playing great defense at third base. He followed that up with a 2-for-4 performance while driving in two and scoring another against SEMO Tuesday night. In fact, in his last six games, Segovia leads the team with a .421 batting average while notching a pair of doubles and a team-best six RBI. He is slugging .526 in that span and owns an OBP of .450.
Zastryzny Tallies Third Game With 10 or More Strikeouts
Junior Friday night starter Rob Zastryzny struck out 11 Auburn batters on April 26, just one off of his career-high. It was also the third time this season that Zastryzny has fanned at least 10 batters. Earlier this season he struck out 10 in back-to-back starts against San Francisco and South Carolina, making him the first Tiger to tally back-to-back games with 10 or more strikeouts since Kyle Gibson did so on March 20, 2009. He is also the first Tiger since Gibson in 2009 to have three games with 10-plus strikeouts in the same season.
Tigers Have Been in Every Game
Although the Tigers have a losing record at this point of the season, Mizzou has been in nearly every game and the numbers prove it. In fact, Mizzou has lost 17 games by three of fewer runs, including eight by just two runs and six by a single tally. All three of Mizzou's losses last weekend at Texas A&M were by three or fewer runs and two were by just a single run. In fact, the Tigers' last eight losses have all been by three or fewer runs.
Graves Gets A Win
Mizzou averaged eight runs per game in games started by freshman Alec Rash, as the Tigers have given him amazing run support. Unfortunately, it was not the same for Saturday starter Brett Graves, who remained winless heading into the Auburn despite pitching very well all season. But Graves finally got his first win of the season vs. Auburn on Sunday, going 5.0 innings and scattering just three hits and one unearned run, helping Mizzou to a 4-1 win. He was in line for his second win of the season against allowing no earned runs over 6.2 innings while striking out four and walking none at Texas A&M, but the Tiger defense committed four errors in the ninth to blow the lead, and Graves' second win.
Mizzou Playing Tough Schedule
This week, LSU, Vanderbilt and South Carolina are the top three SEC teams in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll at No. 2, No. 4 and No. 10, respectively. Mizzou joins Florida as the only teams in the SEC this season to play all three of those teams.
Hit Me Baby, One More Time
Heading into the weekend, the Tigers rank second in the SEC in hit batsmen as they have been hit 68 times this year. Kentucky leads the league with 75 this season, but has played four more games than Mizzou as the Tigers lead the league with an average of 1.68 hit batters per game. In SEC play, Mizzou ranks second in hit batters to only Kentucky with 32; Kentucky has 36.
Mizzou Still Limiting Doubles, Walks
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou is still doing a nice job of limiting its opponents' doubles and walks as Mizzou has allowed the fifth-fewest doubles (54) and the fourth-fewest walks (128) after allowing just four doubles and five walks to Texas A&M last weekend. In fact, in SEC play, Mizzou has allowed just 27 doubles in 24 games, the fourth-best mark in the conference - an impressive mark being as Mizzou has played three teams ranked in the top five in SEC play (No. 5 South Carolina, No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Vanderbilt). Vanderbilt, LSU and South Carolina rank 1-2-4 in the SEC in batting and rank 1-2-3 in doubles, making the Tigers' mark even more impressive.
Walsh is the Tigers' Ironman
It is no secret that as the Tigers' top lefty bullpen arm, Jake Walsh has been one of the Tigers' most used arms. In fact, Walsh has appeared in a team high 24 of 43 games this season and has been trotted out in 19 of the last 29 games. In the Sunday game vs. Florida, Walsh pitched a career-long 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run (a solo, wind-aided homer off the top of the wall). He earned the win in the game and got the Tigers out of a huge jam in the fourth. He came into the game with runners on second and third with no outs and did not allow a run. The win was his first of the season and his first since April 10 of last season against Arkansas Little Rock.
Triple The Fun
In Mizzou's 8-2 win over Florida on April 21, the Tigers tallied three triples - Logan Pearson, Dane Opel and Dillon Everett each had a triple in the win. It marked the first time that Mizzou had three triples in a game since May 13, 2011, in an 11-1 win over Texas Tech. The three triples in that game are the most by any SEC team in a league game this season and are tied for the most among SEC teams in all games as Georgia tallied three triples in a March 1 game vs. UAB.
Lester With a Big Day
Mizzou freshman Josh Lester tallied a career-best four hits in the Tigers' 8-2 win over Florida on April 21. It was the first four-hit game by a Tiger since May 19, 2012, when Conner Mach tallied four hits against archrival Kansas. It is also the Tigers' first four-hit game by a freshman since CJ Jarvis tallied four hits in a Saturday win at Baylor on April 23, 2011.
Anderson Back on the Bump
Mizzou righty Eric Anderson made his second start of the season last Sunday at Texas A&M and first since being shut down for six weeks as he continues to recover Tommy John surgery last May. Anderson went 4.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs on six hits in the start. The 4.2 inning-start was his longest since March 9, 2012, the game in which he hurt his elbow last season. Anderson was offered six figures out of high school and was big-time pitching prospect and has been the Tigers' Friday night guy at times in his career, so if he continues to pitch well following his surgery, he could give Mizzou a huge boost during their push towards the postseason.
Newcomers Making Impact
So far this season, it has been the Tiger newcomers that have supplied the bulk of the Tiger stats, specifically at the plate. In fact, six of the 19 Tiger position players this year are newcomers and those six players have combined to take 53-percent of the teams at-bats, score 48-percent of the team's runs, drive in 61-percent of the team's RBIs and have 55-percent of the team's hits. In fact, Mizzou has 16 first-year players in its program this season. As many as six first-year players could be in Mizzou's starting lineup this weekend.
The impact of the newcomers has also been felt on the mound as eight of the 14 Tigers to see action on the mound this season are first-year players. In fact, those eight players have combined for 81 of the team's 133 appearances (61-percent) and 149.2 of the team's 314.1 innings this season (47-percent).
A Quick Look at Newcomers' Contributions
61% of RBIs 55% of team's hits 53% of team's at-bats 48% of team's run
91 of the team's 157 pitching appearances 167 of 371 innings pitched
16 first-year players including six junior college transfers
Kelly Continues to Produce
Junior catcher Dylan Kelly continues to be one of the Tigers' top offensive weapons this season. The lefty is hitting a team-best .307. Kelly hit his first career Division I homer at Tennessee, sending a three-run shot over the scoreboard in right field. He leads the team in batting (.307), doubles (eight) and is second in RBI (23). He has also played tremendous defense and has asserted himself as the No. 1 catcher after handling the Tiger pitching staff very well.
A new Era Begins
2013 marks the beginning of a new era for the Mizzou baseball program as it embarks upon its inaugural season as members of the Southeastern Conference. Widely considered as the premier conference in all of college baseball, Mizzou has fared well against SEC competition in the past, boasting an all-time record of 38-36-1 against the 12 schools that both Mizzou and Texas A&M will join this season. Mizzou played two series against SEC teams last year, taking two of three at Auburn while being swept at Arkansas in a two-game midweek series. As another note, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson is the only current SEC coach to win at least 600 games at his current school.
Four Tigers on Big League Rosters
With last Monday (April 1) being Opening Day for Major League Baseball, Tiger fans will see four former Tigers on active big league Opening Day rosters. The three that most have grown accustomed to - Ian Kinsler with the Texas Rangers, Aaron Crow with the Kansas City Royals and Max Scherzer with the Detroit Tigers - were joined by former Tiger Nick Tepesch, who joins Kinsler in Texas as the No. 5 starter for the Rangers this season. He just put together a great start for the Rangers in his first big league appearance, going 7.1 innings, striking out five while allowing just one earned run on four hits. He was the first Rangers pitcher to pitch into the eighth inning since John Dettmer in 1994, who coincidentally is also a Mizzou alum. The Tigers were close to having five players as former All-American Kyle Gibson made the active 40-man roster for the Minnesota Twins before being sent down to Triple A.
Recruiting Class Garners National Praise
the Mizzou baseball team transitions to the SEC this season, it will be bolstered by a 2012 recruiting that ranks 24th nationally according to Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com. The Tigers ranked one spot ahead of defending NCAA National Champion Arizona, the same team that eliminated Mizzou from the NCAA Tournament last year. The class, put together by the Mizzou coaching staff includes 19 student-athletes.
Rash Turns Down Big Money For Mizzou
One of the key contributors to the Tigers' recruiting class garnering national attention was the addition of Iowa-native Alec Rash. A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, Rash was the highest-drafted high school player to elect to go to school instead of beginning a major league career.
Little League World Series Connection
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.
Ian Kinsler Inducted into Mizzou Hall of Fame
Former Mizzou standout Ian Kinsler was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in February. Although he played only one season at Mizzou, Tiger Head Coach Tim Jamieson credits him with being a key figure in helping turn the program around, as he was instrumental in leading Mizzou back to the NCAA Tournament in 2003, after a six-year drought. That 2003 NCAA appearance started a string of seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the Tiger program. After transferring to Mizzou from Arizona State and junior college, Kinsler batted .335 for Mizzou in 2003, and was third on the team with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also went 16-of-17 in stolen bases during the season, earning All-Big 12 honors.
Jamieson Signs Extension
The Mizzou Department of the Athletics and Athletics Director Mike Alden announced back in September that a two-year contract extension for Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson had been reached. The two-year deal will keep Jamieson, who is the school's longest current-tenured head coach, at Mizzou through the 2015 season.
Francis Howell Connection
For sophomores Brett Graves, Jake Ivory and Case Munson, the 2013 season will just be an extension of their high school careers where they played together for four seasons, winning a MSHSAA State Title for Francis Howell High School last season. The trio has been playing together for nearly 10 years and should give Mizzou a strong foundation moving forward. All three are playing a much bigger role this season.
Georgia on My Mind
With the Tigers moving to the SEC this season, three Tigers grew up in the heart of SEC country and chose to play their collegiate ball at Mizzou. Mike McGraw (Newnan, Ga.), Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) and Dylan Kelly (Roswell, Ga.) all call the Empire State their home.
Tigers Televised Through SEC DEal
With the Mizzou baseball program entering its inaugural season as a member of the Southeastern Conference, the program will see four of its games televised to a national audience as part of the SEC's television deal. The Tigers will appear on ESPNU twice while appearing on the SEC Network through Fox Sports for two additional games.
Televised SEC Games
March 30 vs. No. 10 LSU - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports - Cancelled
April 6 at Georgia - 7 p.m. - ESPNU - Loss, 6-5
April 13 at No. 2 Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. - ESPNU - Loss, 12-1
May 11 at Alabama - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
May18 vs. Kentucky - 1 p.m. - Metro Sports
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 103.1-FM, 100.5-FM and 1580-AM. The games can also be heard online at KTGR.com. Tex Little is in his 23rd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his third year as part of the MU broadcast team.
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2013 is available at mutigers.tv as part of the Mizzou Network. Mizzou Network is the Tiger fans home for live and archived games, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and more. For more information, visit mutigers.tv and click on the Mizzou Network icon.
Mizzou will return home for a three-game series with Kentucky next weekend. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.