Tigers Host No. 24 Arkansas Starting Thursday



May 13, 2014

Mizzou Baseball (20-30, 6-21 SEC) vs. #24 Arkansas (32-21, 13-14 SEC)
When   Thursday - 6 p.m. | Friday - 6 p.m. | Saturday - 3 p.m.
Location Columbia, Mo. | Taylor Stadium
Tickets Click Here
TV Cox Cable (Friday, Saturday) | ESPN3 - Friday | ESPN3 - Saturday
Radio KTGR 103.1 FM/1580 AM - Tex Little (PBP), Hunter Mense (Color)
Online Coverage GT - Thursday | GT - Friday | GT - Saturday
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
2014 Season Stats Mizzou | Arkansas
Series History Mizzou leads, 28-20-1
Last Meeting Arkansas took two in 2012
Streak Arkansas - Won 6
Social Media @MizzouBaseball,| Mizzou Network 

Mizzou baseball will close out the 2014 season this weekend as it hosts border rival No. 24 Arkansas for a three-game series at Taylor Stadium, beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. Game two will be Friday night at 6 p.m. and the series finale will be Saturday at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday's games will be televised live on Cox Sports and ESPN3. It is the ninth time in 10 SEC series that Mizzou will play a ranked opponent.

This weekend will mark a homecoming for Arkansas assistant coach Tony Vitello, who spent eight seasons coaching at Mizzou under head coach Tim Jamieson. In his eight seasons at Mizzou, he helped the Tigers to seven NCAA Regionals as the pitching coach while also helping with hitters. Under Vitello, the Tigers' ERA was consistently among the best in the Big 12 Conference, highlighted by a 3.17 mark in 2005 and a 3.36 ERA in 2006. The 2006 ERA led the Big 12 and was 11th best nationally. He was the primary pitching coach for first round draft picks Aaron Crow and Kyle Gibson, both of whom are now in the majors. Vitello coached at Mizzou from 2003-2010 before leaving for TCU. This is his first season with Arkansas.

This weekend will mark the first meeting between Mizzou and Arkansas as members of the Southeastern Conference. Despite never having met as SEC foes, Mizzou's history with Arkansas runs deeper than any other team in the league. The all-time series dates back to 1904 with Mizzou holding a 28-20-1 advantage. The last meeting came in 2012 at Arkansas, a two-game midweek Razorback sweep.

Mizzou went 0-3 last weekend, playing a three-game series at No. 11 South Carolina and dropping all three. The Tigers managed just four runs against the SEC's top pitching staff, which entered the series with a league-best 2.09 staff ERA. The Tigers lost, 8-2, on Friday night as Brett Graves struggled, allowing eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits while walking three. The eight runs and three walks were season-worsts for Graves. Dylan Kelly and Kendall Keeton tallied RBIs in the loss, Kelly's a game-tying single in the fourth. Aside from Friday, Mizzou pitched very well over the weekend, posting a 1.69 ERA over the final two games of the series. The quality pitching began with sophomore Peter Fairbanks on Saturday as he allowed just one earned run on 10 hits over 6.2 innings, striking out two. South Carolina tacked on two unearned runs to win the game, 3-1, as his pitching effort was for not. It was Fairbanks' second SEC start as he now owns a 1.40 ERA over his last 25.2 innings pitched, spanning five performances. Josh Lester launched his first homer since May 4 of last season in the game, a solo shot on a 2-1 pitch in the first inning. On Sunday, junior Keaton Steele gave Mizzou another qualify effort, allowing seven hits over 8.0 innings before the Gamecocks tallied a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, 2-1. Kelly homered in that game, his third of the year and first since April 11 at Kentucky

Arkansas comes into the weekend at 32-21 overall and 13-14 in SEC play after taking two of three from Texas A&M last weekend in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks are led by their incredible pitching staff that owns a 2.39 staff ERA and a .207 opponent batting average. An even more impressive stat may be the Razorbacks' 1.08 WHIP in 53 games. Arkansas has announced starters for both Thursday and Friday's games and both have ERAs under 3.00, highlighted by Trey Killian's 2.29 clip in a team-high 78.2 innings. Friday starter Chris Oliver owns an ERA of 2.84 in 76.0 innings this season as the Hogs' starting pitching has been very good. Jacob Stone (4-0, 1 save, 0.61 ERA) and Michael Gunn (3-2, 7 saves, 1.01 ERA) highlight the Razorback bullpen.

Looking at the Arkansas offense, the team is hitting .266 while slugging .356 with 103 extra-base hits in 53 games. Brian Anderson leads the team with a .327 average and has a team-high 40 RBI and 13 doubles. He is the only player to start every game for Dave Van Horn. Joe Serrano is hitting .304 with 10 doubles and has walked a team-high 24 times this season. Eric Fisher has eight of the Razorbacks' 22 homers and has added 12 doubles while hitting .259. Arkansas has stolen 48 bags on 61 attempts this season.

On Thursday night, both team's Friday night guys will move up a day as Brett Graves will look to out-duel Trey Killian. Graves, at 3-5 overall with a 3.71 ERA has struggled over his last several starts, most recently allowing eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits with three walks at South Carolina last Friday. He will look to right the ship against Killian, who is coming off of an 8.0-inning, two hit outing in a 3-2 win over Texas A&M last weekend. He struck out seven and walked none while allowing one earned run.

On Friday, Mizzou will start a rising arm in Peter Fairbanks as his recent outings are turning heads across the SEC. In fact, Fairbanks has been very good over his last five outings, posting a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched. He will face Chris Oliver, who is coming off of a strong outing against Texas A&M in which he allowed five hits and two runs over 7.0 innings in a 7-3 win.

On Saturday, Mizzou will send Keaton Steele to the mound. Steele owns a 2.75 ERA in 24 appearances and has thrown 59.0 innings with complete games in each of his last two outings. Unfortunately for him, he has lost both outings despite allowing just five earned runs. Steele has a 2.13 ERA in his last 12 appearances and in two starts this year, he owns a 2.65 ERA. Arkansas has yet to announce a starter for Saturday.

Mizzou and Arkansas have met plenty of times over the year, most recently in 2012. In all, Mizzou holds a 28-20-1 record over the Razorbacks. Despite the 49 meetings, the program have met just twice since 2000. Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson is 0-6 all-time vs. Arkansas. The last win for Mizzou over Arkansas came in 1991, an 11-3 win under former Tiger head coach Gene McArtor. The series dates back to 1904 and 18 of the 49 meetings came prior to 1950. Since 1950, Mizzou leads the series, 17-12, and the two foes have never met as SEC affiliates. Mizzou and Arkansas have also played in NCAA Regional action with the Hogs winning in 2004, 10-7, in Fayetteville.

As mentioned above, Mizzou and Arkansas met back in 2012 and in that two-game series, just one current Tiger pitcher saw action.

    - John Miles started the Wednesday game in that series and tossed 4.0 innings, allowing just three hits while striking out five against just one walk. He held Arkansas to .200 batting in what was his first career start.

The Tiger bats were quiet in 2012 against Arkansas, which was ranked No. 18 at the time of the series in 2012. The eventual Big 12 Champs were limited to just .129 hitting and just three runs over the two games. Below is a look at some of the notable Tigers who played in that series.

    - Case Munson went 1-for-4 with a double and run in that series.

    - Jake Ivory went 1-for-5 in two games that year.

    - Dillon Everett went 1-for-8 with a run scored in the two-game series.

Injuries to Tiger starting pitchers have shuffled this weekend's rotation, but the good news is Mizzou's pitching has been very good on Saturdays and Sundays. Although the Saturday and Sunday starters will each be moved up a day due to the Thursday-Friday-Saturday schedule, the Tigers should feel confident in their pitching Friday and Saturday. In fact, in the last two Saturday and Sunday outings, Mizzou owns a 1.85 ERA and is limiting batters to seven earned runs in 34.0 innings pitched.

Senior catcher Dylan Kelly has been a bright spot all season long for the Tigers. In fact, he is hitting a team-best .329 this year, but in SEC play he has been even better, hitting at a .333 clip. That mark ranks him 13th in the SEC and fourth among catchers, trailing only Florida's Taylor Gushue, Ole Miss' Will Allen and SC's Grayson Greiner.

Mizzou closer Keaton Steele was forced into the weekend rotation after an injury to Eric Anderson and he made his second start of the season last Sunday at South Carolina. He tossed his second consecutive complete game last Sunday, but unfortunately was tagged with his second consecutive loss. Despite being 0-2 in that span, Steele has a 2.65 ERA in those two starts, pitching 17.0 innings and allowing just five earned runs while walking three and striking out 11. He has thrown 219 pitches in his last two outings as he has been very efficient, averaging 12.9 pitches per frame.

The do-it-all pitcher has both started and closed and acted as a long reliever for the Tigers this season. He has been lights out since late March, posting a 2.01 ERA in 12 appearances, allowing just nine earned runs in 40.1 innings pitched while striking out 33. He also has four saves in that span with a WHIP of 1.06.

Over the last 13 Tiger games, it may be a little surprising to some which Tiger leads the team in ERA. Sophomore Peter Fairbanks owns a team-best 1.91 ERA over the last 13 games as he has appeared in six of those contests, pitching a team-high 28.1 innings, allowing just 26 hits. In his last six appearances, he has held the opposition to just .245 hitting. He has now been inserted into the Tigers' weekend rotation after an injury to John Miles in the Vanderbilt series and he made his second SEC start of the season last Saturday at South Carolina. He allowed just one earned run over 6.2 innings but took the loss for Mizzou. Looking deeper into his numbers, over his last five appearances, the tall righty owns a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings pitched having allowed just four earned runs.

Sophomore lefty Austin Tribby leads the SEC and is ranked 18th nationally in pitching appearances with 29 this season. He has appeared in nearly 60-percent of the Tigers' games this season. He has not allowed a run or a hit in each of his last two pitching performances and three of his last four as well.

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 116, 18 ahead of second-place South Carolina which has 134. The Tigers rank sixth nationally and first in the SEC with their miniscule 2.32 BB/9 average. Mizzou has walked no batters in seven games this season and has walked two or fewer in 32 contests this season. Mizzou walked just two Vanderbilt batters against 15 strikeouts two weeks ago. For the seventh time this season, Mizzou walked no batters in the Friday night game against the Commodores. Mizzou did not walk a batter Sunday at SC until intentionally walking two in the bottom of the ninth.

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 2.82, a mark that ranks second in the SEC, trailing only South Carolina.

The Tiger pitching staff has been very good at striking out batters while limiting walks. In fact, the Tigers average 2.82 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 2.82 clip.

    YR K-BB - Ratio
    2014: 327-116 - 2.82
    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 2.32 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 2.32 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.

This is the last series of the year for the Mizzou baseball team. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTiger.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.



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