May 15, 2013
|Series: Mizzou (16-30, 8-19 SEC) vs. Kentucky (29-22, 10-17 SEC)|
|When||May 10-12, 2013 | 6 p.m., 6 p.m., 1 p.m.|
|Location||Columbia, Mo. | Taylor Stadium|
|TV||Mizzou Sports Network (Saturday)|
|Radio||KTGR - 103.1 FM, 100.5 FM, 1580 AM|
|Online Coverage||Listen Live (Free) | GT- Thursday | GT- Friday | GT- Saturday|
|Printable Game Notes||Missouri|
|Season Stats||Missouri | Kentucky|
|Series History||UK leads, 1-0|
|Last Meeting||1984 - 11-4 loss|
|Social Media||@MUTigerBaseball, @MUTigersOnDeck | Mizzou Network|
FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
It is the final week of the regular season for the Mizzou baseball team as it makes its push for a berth in the SEC Tournament. This weekend, Mizzou will welcome Kentucky to Taylor Stadium for games on Thursday (May 16) through Saturday (May 18). Thursday and Friday's games will be played at 6 p.m. and Saturday's series finale will be at 1 p.m. Saturday will mark the Senior Day festivities, in which Mizzou will honor its three seniors.
Series History Mizzou and Kentucky have met just once, but it has been awhile since the two teams have met. In fact, Mizzou and UK last met in 1984, an 11-4 win for the Wildcats. Of course, Gene McArtor, who will be recognized as an SEC Legend at next week's SEC Tournament was the Tiger coach that year.
The Final Push As Mizzou returns home to face UK this weekend, it will be looking to shore up a trip to Hoover and a berth in the SEC Tournament. Currently, Mizzou sits at 8-19 in SEC play during its inaugural season. That record is good enough for 12th place in the league, ahead of Tennessee (7-18) and Georgia (5-19). The top 12 teams qualify to go to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, so the Tigers need to stay one win ahead of Tennessee this week.
The Race For Hoover
12th Place - Mizzou - 8-19 (.296)
13th Place - Tennessee - 7-18 (.280) - UT owns tiebreaker - Remaining: vs. Texas A&M
14th Place - Georgia - 5-19 (.208) - Mizzou owns tiebreaker - Remaining: vs. Florida
Champagne - .267, 15 2B, 72 Runs, 57 RBI, .375 OBP, 30 Stolen Bases, 129 hits
Opel - .275, 30 2B, 9 3B, 18 HR, 118 Runs, 111 RBI, .981 fielder, .432 slugging, .376 OBP
Sommerfeld - .285, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 47 Runs, 55 RBI, .997 fielder, .365 OBP
Recapping Last Week
Mizzou lost two games of a three-game set at Alabama last weekend, losing 9-7 on Friday night, winning 7-3 on Saturday and falling on a walk-off ninth-inning hit on Sunday, 7-6, despite carrying a 6-4 lead into the game's final inning. The series loss drops Mizzou to 16-30 on the season and 8-19 in SEC play. Despite losing the series, Mizzou remains in 12th place in the SEC as it battles for the final spot in the SEC Tournament, just edging Tennessee, which is 7-18 in SEC play, as Mizzou holds the 12th spot by the slimmest of margins. Mizzou's bats have actually broken out of a funk as of late, especially over the weekend as they hit .314 as a team against an Alabama team that carried a 3.30 staff ERA and a .254 opponent batting average into the weekend. Dane Opel led the team with a .600 average and he reached base in 11 of his 15 plate appearances over the weekend. He drove in three runs and scored four more with a double and a triple while slugging .900. Junior Dillon Everett also had a huge weekend with seven hits, including a career-high three Friday night. He also tallied three extra-base hits (two double, a triple) while scoring six runs. In all, Mizzou scored more runs than Alabama in the three-game series last weekend (20-19). On Friday, Mizzou fell behind 9-0 before rallying for five runs in the eighth and two in the ninth, but Josh Lester struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth to give Alabama the 9-7 win ... On Saturday, Mizzou got a huge day from Keaton Steele, who went 3-for-4 from the dish with three RBI while pitching the final 4.1 innings, allowing just one earned run en-route to the win, his fifth of the season. On Sunday, the Tigers trailed 4-1 heading into the seventh but scored five two-out runs, sparked by triples from Everett and Opel, to take a 6-4 lead, but reliever Jake Walsh allowed four hits and three runs in the bottom of the ninth to allow Alabama to take the series with a 7-6, walk-off win.
Rob Z Approaching Career Top-10 in Strikeouts
Junior lefty Rob Zastryzny struck out four Alabama batters last Sunday in a 7-6 defeat, moving his career total to 221 over his three years. That puts him just two 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.
Bats Heating Up
Over the weekend at Alabama, Mizzou tallied at least 10 hits in all three games and has now eclipsed the 10-hit mark in four of its last five games. The Alabama series marked just the second time that Mizzou has pounded out at least 10 hits of an SEC series this season and the current streak of 10 or more hits in four of the last five games is a season-best for MU. The Tigers are hitting .284 in that span and have 11 XBHs and 17 BBs.
Seniors Closing in On Some Milestones
As the three Tiger seniors career's wind down, they are close to a few notable milestones. Dane Opel sits one triple shy of cracking the all-time top-10 at Mizzou for career triples as he has nine heading into the series with Kentucky. Brannon Champagne, with 30 career stolen bases, is also just three back of seventh all-time at Mizzou in that category.
Seniors Ignite Lineup
In Friday's game at Alabama, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson inserted Brannon Champagne and Scott Sommerfeld into the lineup after the team fell behind 9-0. The presence of both of those players, who have not played much this season, sparked a rally as Mizzou nearly came back to win that game scoring seven runs in the final two innings. The two then helped Mizzou claim a 7-3 win on Saturday and helped Mizzou jump out to a 6-4 lead in the ninth inning on Sunday before ultimately falling.
The three Tiger senior last weekend combined to hit 13-for-31 (.419) with four extra-base hits, eight runs and six RBI. Sommerfeld launched his first homer of the season in Mizzou's win on Saturday; it was the fourth of his career. Champagne also had an RBI double in that game.
Opel With a Huge Week
Senior outfielder Dane Opel had one of his best weeks as a Tiger last weekend in Tuscaloosa. In fact, the outfielder batted .600 with an OBP of .733 while reaching base in 11 of 15 plate appearances while scoring four runs and driving in three more. He also had a double and a triple on the weekend while slugging .900. That gave him a ridiculous 1.633 OPS for the week. Opel will play his final three regular season games at Taylor Stadium this weekend.
Everett Also Breaks Out
Junior shortstop Dillon Everett also broke out at the plate last weekend at Alabama. Everett hit his first career homer against SEMO on April 30, but struggled with the bat at Texas A&M before exploding at Alabama. In the three-game set vs. the Tiger, Everett hit .583, matching a career-best three hits (two of which were doubles) in the series opener on Friday night. In all, he led Mizzou in hits last weekend with seven and scored a team-high six runs. He also slugged a team-best .917 with two doubles and a triple. The triple, at the time, was a big one as it sparked a five-run, two-out rally in the seventh inning on Sunday that gave Mizzou the lead in the rubber match. Unfortunately, Mizzou blew the lead in the ninth.
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 13 games, the Tigers' ERA is a very good 2.97 while in the last 11 SEC games, the Tiger pitching staff boasts a combined ERA of 2.67. In those 11 league games, Mizzou has allowed just 27 earned runs over 91.0 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 13 games.
Lester Plays Every Infield Position
Mizzou freshman Josh Lester played at second base for Mizzou April 30 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 22 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 24 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 24 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 .986 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, 27-6, in the second this season. In fact, the second and fourth innings (28-21) are the only two innings in which Mizzou is outscoring its opponents this season and the plus-21 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 (five) 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 and then homered in the second game of that doubleheader.
Steele again was unreal at Alabama last Saturday. The righty went 3-for-4 at the dish with three RBI and he pitched the final 4.1 innings of the game to earn the win, allowing just one earned run on four hits while striking out three. It was his team-leading fifth of the season.
Pearson Also Good With RISP
An element of Logan 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 .333 clip with runners in scoring position and also leads the team in batting with runners on base a .318. Pearson is the only Tiger hitting better than .300 in each of the two categories.
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 19 games by three of fewer runs, including nine by just two runs and seven by a single tally. Both of Mizzou's losses last weekend at Alabama were by two or fewer runs. In fact, the Tigers' last 10 losses have all been by three or fewer runs.
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 74 times this year. Kentucky leads the league with 82 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 38; Kentucky has 40.
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 and Kentucky as the only teams in the SEC this season to play all three of those teams.
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 (58) and the fourth-fewest walks (138). In fact, in SEC play, Mizzou has allowed just 31 doubles in 27 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 27 of 46 games this season and has been trotted out in 22 of the last 32 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 third start of the season last Friday at Alabama and second since being shut down for six weeks as he continues to recover Tommy John surgery last May. Anderson went 5.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out three. It was his longest outing since March 2, 2012, against Ball State and was the first time he went at least 5.0 innings with two or fewer runs since Feb. 24, 2012, at San Francisco as he continues to rebound from Tommy John surgery, but he was tagged with the loss. 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 95 of the team's 165 appearances (58-percent) and 173.0 of the team's 396.1 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
95 of the team's 165 pitching appearances 173 of 396.1 innings pitched
16 first-year players including six junior college transfers
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.
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.
Should the Tigers take care of business this weekend, they will head to Hoover, Ala., for their first-ever SEC Tournament. Action begins Tuesday in Hoover. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.
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