May 12, 2011
Mizzou (21-27, 8-12 Big 12) vs. Texas Tech (30-20, 9-12 Big 12)
Date: May 13-15
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Stadium: Taylor Stadium Stadium (2,331)
Radio: KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM
Media Notes: Click Here
First Pitch - What You Need to Know
The Mizzou baseball team, which has now won three straight Big 12 series, will close out its home schedule this weekend as it hosts Texas Tech in a crucial Big 12 series at Taylor Stadium. Currently the Tigers sit seventh in the Big 12 while Texas Tech is fifth, but the two are separated by just half a game, making this a big series for both teams. The first game will be played on Friday at 6 p.m. and the middle game will be Saturday at 2 p.m. and the Tigers' nine seniors will be honored in senior day festivities prior to that game. The series finale will be contested at 1 p.m.
Series History Mizzou leads the all-time series with Texas Tech, 26-21, despite dropping two of three in Lubbock last season. Prior to the series loss to the Raiders last season, Mizzou had won seven of the last 10 against Tech and has still won eight of the past 13 meetings. The last time the two teams met in Columbia, the Tigers blasted the Raiders, sweeping a three-game series, scoring 42 runs in the three games.
Player of the Week Senior designated hitter Jonah Schmidt was named Big 12 Player of the Week for his efforts at Kansas State last weekend. He hit .500 and slugged 1.083 with a pair of home runs and a double while driving in three runs and scoring five more. The weekly Big 12 honor is the first career nod for Schmidt.
Closing in on 100 Senior lefty Phil McCormick has been more reliable than nearly any pitcher in Mizzou history and his durability is putting him in elite company. In fact, with one appearance this weekend, McCormick will have appeared in 100 games while at Mizzou, becoming only the third Tiger pitcher in program history to do so. Taylor Parker (2003-06) and Scott Black (1987-90) are tied for the school record with 108 career appearances.
In conjunction with the Tiger softball game taking place on Saturday, the Mizzou athletic department will be holding `Fan Fest' on Saturday as fans are encouraged to come join a pregame tailgate party prior to the Tigers' baseball game against Texas Tech and softball game against Iowa State. The festival will take place inside Audrey J. Walton Stadium and food, beverages and games will be provided to Tiger fans of all ages. For more information, please visit MUTigers.com.
Last Time Out
The Tigers topped Kansas State in Manhattan, winning two games of a three-game series. The Tigers took Friday's contest, 5-4, in what was a thrilling game. The Tigers then lost on Saturday despite a spirited effort at the plate, 8-5. Mizzou jumped all over the Wildcats in the series finale, blasting three home runs and setting new season highs in at-bats (42), home runs (three), hits (16) and total bases (28) en-route to a 12-8 win, clinching the Tigers' third consecutive Big 12 series win.
Three-Straight Big 12 Series Wins
Now having won three straight Big 12 series, Mizzou will look to make it four straight this weekend. The Tigers had not won three straight Big 12 series since 2009 when they defeated Kansas State, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Kansas in consecutive weeks. The Tigers' three series wins in Big 12 play have all come against teams in the top 40 in the RPI rankings as well (Baylor, Texas A&M, Kansas State).
Climbing the Standings
The recent winning ways of the Tigers have led to a climb in the Big 12 standings. Following the Kansas series, the Tigers appeared to be out of the race at 2-9 in league play, ranking them last. But the Tigers have surged up the standings over the last three weeks and could conceivably rank fifth in the league with a series win this weekend. In fact, Mizzou enters play this weekend at seventh in Big 12, just a half game back of fifth-place Texas Tech, who happens to be Mizzou's opponent this weekend.
Offense Comes to Life
The biggest reason for Mizzou's turnaround in league play as of late has been its increased production at the plate. As a team, Mizzou hit just .237 in the first 11 league games, averaging just two runs per game. But over the last nine league contests, Mizzou is scoring close to seven runs per game and is hitting .295 as a team. Mizzou has also seen an increase in extra-base hits (25 over the last nine vs. 18 over the first 11). One of the biggest contributing factors to the Tigers' success at the plate as of late is their ability to hit with runners in scoring position. In fact, over the first 11 Big 12 games, Mizzou hit just .168 with runners in scoring position. Since then, over the last nine league games, Mizzou is hitting .290 as a team in those spots.
Mixing Things Up
A lot of the increased production at the plate is due to a lineup change made by head coach Tim Jamieson prior to the Tigers' series at Baylor. In that switch, Jamieson moved Conner Mach from third base to left field and hit the Tiger junior in the leadoff spot. He also moved Blake Brown to the fifth hole in the order and moved Eric Garcia from second base to first base while inserting CJ Jarvis and Andrew Thigpen into the starting lineup. All nine of the Tigers' most recent league games have been played with that lineup and Mizzou is 6-3 in that span.
Big 12 Player of the Week
Although the Tigers' improved offensive numbers have come due to certain players getting hot at the right time, senior designated hitter Jonah Schmidt has been Mizzou's most consistent weapon at the plate all season long and he proved that last week, earning his first Big 12 Player of the Week award. The Tiger senior hit .500 with five runs scored and three RBI while slugging 1.083 at Kansas State last weekend, tallying a pair of home runs, a double and accounting for 13 total bases. The weekly conference honor marked the first career weekly award for Schmidt and he is the second Tiger to take home Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season. Conner Mach did so following the Baylor series.
Schmidt Keeps Hitting
Staying on the topic on Jonah Schmidt, the Tiger designated hitter is hitting .375 in Big 12 play, which has him ranked fourth in the league this season. Also, his .326 average in all games has him ranked 11th in the Big 12. He has 30 hits in Big 12 play, ranking him sixth in the league and he is seventh in total bases with 48 in league games. What is even more impressive is that he is third in the league in slugging during Big 12 games with his .600 clip.
A 1-2 Punch
The Tiger lineup has been much more potent due to Schmidt having some protection in the lineup lately and that has come in the form of Blake Brown. In league games, Brown is hitting .324 (ranking him 15th in the Big 12) and is slugging .622, ranking him second in the Big 12. He has a team-best 19 RBI in league games as well, ranking him fourth in the Big 12. Not only that but he boasts an OBP of .440 in Big 12 play, good for sixth in the league.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Brown has obviously been hot as of late, combining with Schmidt for a great 1-2 punch in the middle of the Tiger order, but he has also been very consistent at the plate all season. In fact, he ranks fifth in the Big 12 in stolen bases (18), fourth in walks (32), second in home runs during league play (five) and ranks just outside the league's top 10 in OBP at .419. Since the lineup change, Brown is hitting .326 with three home runs, 13 RBI, 29 total bases and nine runs scored. He also boasts an OBP of .431 and a slugging percentage of .674.
Mach Leading Off
Tiger junior Conner Mach was one of the key components of the lineup change made before the Baylor series. He had spent much of the season playing third base and batting in the heart of the order, but since then he has moved to left field and is the Tigers' leadoff hitter. The move has paid off as he is hitting .327 with 11 RBI, a .592 slugging percentage and an OBP of .424. He has nearly as many runs in the last 12 games as he did in the first 36 and he has nearly matched his amount of extra-base hits in that span as well. With Mach in the leadoff whole, Mizzou is 7-5 while the team was just 14-22 with him hitting in other spots of the lineup.
Champagne Carries Hit Streak
Brannon Champagne owns a season-long eight-game hit streak heading into this weekend's series. That is his longest of the season and the team's best this season. Champagne isn't the only Tiger to carry a hit streak into the week as Jonah Schmidt has hit safely in five straight games while Eric Garcia has done so in four straight games. Conner Mach has also hit safely in three straight games.
Say Hello to CJ
Freshman infielder CJ Jarvis, like Conner Mach, was a big part of the lineup change that has the Tigers playing much better as of late. In fact, the idea behind moving Mach to left field was to get Jarvis more playing time at third, due in large part to his defense. But it has been his bat that has made the noise since the change. He is hitting .278 in the 12 games since the switch and has four RBI and four runs scored out of the ninth and eighth holes. He also has a pair of doubles in that span as well.
Walk This Way
A pair of Tigers rank among the league's top five in bases on balls this season as Blake Brown is fourth with 32 walks while Eric Garcia is just behind him in fifth with 30. Mizzou and Texas Tech are the only two schools with two players ranked in the league's top five, setting up an intriguing matchup this weekend. Garcia's 13 walks in league play rank him fourth as well. As a team, Mizzou has drawn 190 walks this season, which ranks it fourth in the Big 12. Texas Tech leads the league with 228.
Grand Theft Base
With five steals over the weekend, the Tigers moved to second in the Big 12 with 86 steals this season - mark that has them ranked 16th nationally. Kansas State leads the league with 94 while Texas Tech ranks just behind the Tigers with 84. Individually Blake Brown leads the team with 18, ranking him fifth in the league.
Five other Tigers have been impressive on the base paths as well this season. Eric Garcia has 14 steals on 16 attempts this season, making him the most efficient base stealer on the team. Brannon Champagne has 12 steals while Conner Mach and Jesse Santo each have 10. Jonah Schmidt is also one shy of double-digits with nine, showing that the steals for Mizzou have been a true team approach this season. Mach matched the school record with four steals against Le Moyne earlier this season, the most steals by a Tiger since 1956.
Milestone for Mccormick
Senior lefty Phil McCormick has appeared in 29 games this season, moving his career total to 99 in his four years at Mizzou. With an appearance this weekend, McCormick will become just the third Tiger pitcher in program history to eclipse the century mark in career appearances. he will also rank third on Mizzou's all-time list, just eight back of the school record. Taylor Parker (2003-06) and Scott Black (1987-90) are tied for the school record with 108 career appearances.
In all, McCormick has been one of the nation's most reliable relievers over the past two seasons. Last year, the lefty pitched in 36 games, a new school record. With 29 appearances this season, he now has 65 over the past two seasons, the most over a two-year span in program history. In fact, 95 of his 99 total appearances have come over the past three seasons, making it the most productive three year span for a Tiger pitcher in program history.
McCormick Continues to Shine
McCormick has been the Tigers' most consistent arm this season and he has emerged as one of the top relievers in the entire Big 12 Conference this season. Not only is he reliable (he leads the league with 29 appearances this season), but he has shut down nearly every team that he has faced this season. In league play, McCormick ranks eighth in ERA at 2.60 and he also ranks fourth in opponent batting average during league play, holding hitters to a .195 clip. Overall, he is seventh with his .211 opponent batting average. He also ranks sixth with six saves as he picked up two over the weekend.
Anderson Returns to Weekend Rotation
Sophomore Eric Anderson earned his third weekend start this season in the series-opener at Kansas State and picked up his first win in Big 12 play since coming off of season-ending shoulder surgery. The righty has been pitching very well as of late and his last start was a reflection of that. He lasted a season-long 7.0 innings en-route to the win. Having Anderson back in the weekend rotation has been huge for Mizzou as they are now 3-0 in the games in which he has started on weekends, all three of which were Big 12 series. Mizzou has not lost a weekend series that he has pitched in this year as well.
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. Mizzou also started freshmen CJ Jarvis and Dillon Everett regularly this season.
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.
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 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 close out the regular season in Lincoln, Neb., against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That will mark the last time that Mizzou and Nebraska will meet as members of the Big 12 Conference as Nebraska will depart for the Big Ten Conference next year. The three game series will begin on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. and Saturday's contest in that series will air live on NET in Nebraska. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.