Sept. 28, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou baseball program will open its fall schedule on Saturday (Oct. 1) at 3 p.m. as it squares off against the Ontario Blue Jays, a high school team based out of Ontario, Canada. This marks the first time that Mizzou has brought in outside teams during fall competition as it will also play a pair of games next weekend against Iowa in hopes of raising money for Joplin, Mo., Little League.
Mizzou is coming off of a season in which it found itself one pitch away from winning a Big 12 Tournament title after a ferocious second-half run through league play. In fact, the Tigers won four of their final five Big 12 series while becoming the first-ever No. 8 seed to advance all the way to the Big 12 Championship Game. Three of those four series wins came against teams that qualified for NCAA Regional Appearances as well, including 2011 College World Series participant Texas A&M.
Mizzou returns the bulk of its offensive production and two of their three weekend starters, including Friday-night starter Eric Anderson and sophomore lefty Rob Zastryzny. Anderson was one of the league's top pitchers last season after he was fully recovered from a shoulder injury as Mizzou won all but one of his starts after he was inserted back into the weekend rotation prior to the Baylor series. Anderson also pitched in the Cape Cod League and as a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National team where he combined for four starts between the two leagues with a miniscule 0.75 ERA in 24.0 innings of work. He also led Team USA in ERA (0.00), wins (two) and was second in innings pitched (12.0).
Offensively, Mizzou returns the majority of its production from a season ago, highlighted by players like Blake Brown, Eric Garcia, Conner Mach, Brannon Champagne and Dane Opel. Each of those players had sensational summers playing in a variety of different summer leagues. Mach, a late-round draft pick by the New York Yankees, has chosen to come back to Mizzou for his senior season and will look to build on a great second half last year. In 2011, Mach hit .285 with four home runs, 12 doubles and 32 RBI while scoring 31 runs. Mach, along with the other Tigers mentioned, will likely anchor a Tiger lineup that returns all but three starters from a season ago.
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