Sunday, May 31, 2009

MU 6, WKU 11

Kyle Mach got yet another clutch hit in the 9th inning of the final game, and was replaced by a pinch runner, his brother Conner, in a move overflowing with symbolism, a passing of the torch. And just a few minutes later, despite a last-minute rally by the Tigers, the 2009 season ends, and the 2010 season awaits us all.

Congratulations to the Tim Jamieson and the Tigers for an incredible season, battling back from adversity to achieve far more than most expected after that disastrous season-opening road trip:

■ 3rd place in the Big 12 Conference

■ Reached the championship game of the Big 12 Tournament

■ 7th straight NCAA Regional appearance

At least 6 players likely to be drafted in the Major League Draft next week

Coming up in the next 2-3 weeks at SimmonsField.com:

You Make the Call poll: Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Newcomer of the Year

■ Our annual "Tip of the Cap" Awards, taking a look back at the 2009 season

■ The 2009 Major League Amateur Draft is coming up, June 9-10. We'll be tracking which Tigers are drafted and which ones sign.

■ Continuing coverage of MU alums in the Minors and Majors throughout the Summer.


Thanks for all the support and "thank you's" during the season. As always, it was a good time to be a Tiger fan.

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do, I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Rogers Hornsby

Mizzou 8, Monmouth 0

Schedule:

Sunday

Game 5: Western Kentucky vs. Missouri, 1 PM (loser is eliminated)

Game 6: Mississippi vs. Game 5 winner, 5 PM

Monday: If Mississippi loses game 6, Game 7 will be played on Monday

Game 7: Game 6 rematch, 7 PM

■ Post-game Press Conference quotes (from Oxford Regional Central):
Tim Jamieson on pitching plans for Sunday: “I will talk to Coach (Tony) Vitello about it. I guess it will be (Ian) Berger in the first game with everyone available except for Kyle. If we don’t use Berger in the first game, we will probably use Scooter (Hicks) or Johnny Wholestaff or some combination of that.”

Monmouth Senior OF Brett Holland on facing (Kyle) Gibson“I myself was excited to face a kid of that kind of caliber. I knew it was going to be tough for us. He pitched a heck of a ballgame. He was throwing three pitches for strikes, especially to right-handers his slider was tough. He threw me a couple of change-ups and he was spotting each pitch to make it really tough on the hitters.”

■ It was a record-setting day for Kyle Gibson, according to MUTigers.com:

Junior Kyle Gibson tied the school record for strikeouts in a season after he struck out eight in eight scoreless innings pitched in a 9-0 Missouri win over Monmouth on Saturday in the NCAA Oxford Regional. Gibson now has 131 strikeouts on the year, tying the MU record set by Max Scherzer in 2005.

For his career, Gibson has 304 strikeouts, moving him into second place in the Mizzou record books. He allowed six runs and walked one on Saturday afternoon, improving to 11-3 on the season. He has won his last six starts. The win was the 28th of Gibson's career, which is tied for second all-time at Mizzou.
Gibson keeps Tigers alive (Columbia Tribune)
“Our plans were to throw Kyle and have him go as far as he could and save the bullpen and save everybody,” Jamieson said, “so if we do get the chance to play two games tomorrow, we have everybody available and rested. We’ll take our shot with that."

Despite arm issue, Gibson keeps tigers in NCAA tournament (Columbia Missourian):

Missouri pitcher Kyle Gibson's arm was hurting again.

For the past couple weeks, Gibson has experienced forearm tightness in his pitching arm and it happened again on Saturday. His fastball, that usually reaches 93 mph, only reached 87. Despite the tightness, Gibson dominated another opponent.
. . .
Gibson nursed his forearm by icing it and taking an extended rest between starts. Trainer Matt Long supervised Gibson's pregame warmup on Saturday and has helped Gibson work through the problem. Also, Gibson has had 12 days and 10 days to rest in between his last two starts which helped the problem.

“It’s not hurt. My forearm has tightened up a little bit just from the long season,”
Gibson said. “It’s something that I have had the trainers work on and try to make it just as good as I can. You have to battle through tightness once in a while.”


Go figure (Clarion Ledger)
Missouri coach Tim Jamieson didn't pitch his ace Kyle Gibson against Western Kentucky Friday and paid the price. He said it was a gamble he felt he had to take, figuring he needed Gibson to beat host and top-seed Ole Miss.

If that was the right move Friday, then why did he pitch Gibson against Monmouth on Saturday? Gibson went eight innings and beat Hawks 9-0.

"I came out and watched Monmouth play Ole Miss last night and was impressed with the way they battled," Jamieson said. "We needed somebody to pitch deep into the game tonight to have enough pitchers to have a chance on Sunday."

Gibson gave up six hits, striking out eight over eight innings. But pro scouts, with their radar guns, were shaking their heads. Gibson, normally in the low to mid 90s with his fastball was topping out in the mid-80. Several of his fastballs were in the
82-83 mph range.

"That's a red flag right there," one said.

Gibson said afterward he felt tightness in his forearm that probably affected his velocity.

One now wonders whether the arm issue had anything to do with Jamieson's Friday
decision. That would make more sense than the way Jamieson has pitched it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

WKU 11, MU 5

■ Saturday's Schedule:

Game 3: Missouri vs. Monmouth, 1 PM (Loser is eliminated)

Game 4: Western Kentucky vs. Mississippi, 5 PM

Western Kentucky Rips Missouri (Clarion Ledger)

The Hilltoppers have been a great hitting team all season, with a .331 team batting average and 80 homers. All nine of today starters were hitting at least .300 before the start of the game.

But Jamieson held his best pitcher Gibson, who has a 10-3 record and 123 strikeouts this season, because he figured Ole Miss will win tonight and he wanted to use the 6-foot-6 right-hander against the Rebels in a winner’s bracket game on Saturday night.

And WKU wasted little time making Jamieson’s decision look bad. Matt Payton walked and Matt Hightower reached on an error to open the game before Wade Gaynor crushed a homer over the left-field wall for a quick 3-0 lead.

Missouri drops regional opener (Columbia Tribune)

Johnny Wholestaff made an unscheduled and unwanted regional debut.

After sophomore right-hander Nick Tepesch struggled in the first inning, the Missouri Tigers reverted to survival mode early in the Oxford, Miss., Regional. Tepesch was chased after just one inning, forcing Missouri to go to its pitcher-by-committee approach.

It was too little, too late.

Missouri baseball team upset in regional opener (Columbia Missourian)

Western Kentucky scored six runs in the top of the first inning after shortstop Michael Liberto booted a ball that could have been a double play to put Tepesch one out away from getting out of the first inning.

“I thought it was a routine double play ball,” Jamieson said. “We make that play and the whole complexion changes."

Instead, the Hilltoppers sent 10 batters to the plate. Tepesch allowed three hits and walked two batters, and Western Kentucky took control of the game.

Loss hurts, but Mizzou coach right in pitching gamble (Clarion Ledger)
In baseball’s version of a roll of the dice, Jamieson tossed snake eyes. Missouri’s chances of winning this regional out of the losers’ bracket are next to nil, especially with a pitching staff that Jamieson admits is thin.

And by now, you are thinking this is going to be a column ripping the Missouri coach for his decision. Not so. I agree with Jamieson’s line of thinking, that his only chance to win this tournament was to beat Western Kentucky with someone else in anticipation of using Gibson against top-seeded Ole Miss in the winners’ bracket today.

“We did what we thought was best for this pitching staff and this team to win the tournament,” Jamieson said.

Agreed. The column ripping Jamieson would come if he were to throw Gibson in the losers’ bracket today against Monmouth. My guess: He won’t.

Yes, he runs the very real risk of going home to Columbia without ever using a future millionaire pitcher. But if his strategy was sound to begin with, then it still is. The only chance he has to win — and it’s slim — is to beat Monmouth with Johnny Wholestaff and then have his ace ready to pitch in Sunday’s first game.

■ More of the same:
- Toppers reach 40 wins with convincing win over Missouri (WBKO.com)

- Western Kentucky conquers Missouri baseball team (Kansas City Star)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Is it 3:00 yet ????

■ Friday's Schedule:

Game 1: #3 Western Kentucky (39-18) vs. #2 Missouri (34-25), 3PM CST
Game 2: #4 Monmouth (32-23) vs. #1 Mississippi (40-17)*, 7 PM CST.

■ Reminder: There is no cable or broadcast TV for this Tournament. There is online streaming video at Ole Miss RebelVision. And you can listen to Tex and Hudson call the game, as usual, at KTGR.

■ The Clarion Ledger covers its college baseball team better than any other newspaper I've seen. Including today's The Starting Nine:

• WKU coach Chris Finwood on Jamieson’s decision [to hold back Gibson]: “It they want to save him, they can save him.”

• The Rebels stumbled with two losses in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, but can they turn it around in front of a partisan crowd that figures to push 10,000?

• Beyond the right-field fence will be more than a thousand rowdy Ole Miss students who have honed their heckling skills for more than three months. They should be in postseason form. Though Western Kentucky and Missouri have played in some solid atmospheres, Monmouth, which averages about 200 per home game, hasn’t seen anything like this.
So what do we have to do to get 1,000 rowdy students to show up regularly at Taylor Stadium?

■ Speaking of the Rebel fans, Red Cup Rebellion has some pointers for the Ole Miss fans:
• First, share the love. The single greatest thing about the "best college baseball atmosphere in America" is the camaraderie among all in attendance. To folks in the grandstand, don’t hesitate to talk baseball with those around you. In direct contrast with Rebel football and basketball fans, Rebel baseball fans generally know what they’re talking about and I’ve had many a great conversation in the stands of Swayze

• Second, don’t botch the cheers. It’s "throw it in the dirt." It’s not "throw her at the dirt," "throw ‘em on the dirt," or "bean the batter!" Chip Clinton didn’t spend years atop the stands at Swayze making that cheer the phenomenon it has become just so you can screw it up all willy-nilly like.
Tepesch to start for Missouri (Columbia Tribune)
Jamieson announced that sophomore right-hander Nick Tepesch would start today’s regional opener at 3 p.m. against Western Kentucky on Swayze Field. That leaves Kyle Gibson available for an expected start tomorrow against the top-seeded Rebels.

Tepesch “beat Oklahoma in the conference tournament. He pitched very well,” Jamieson said at yesterday’s press conference. “Hopefully, we’ll win the ballgame and come back with Kyle on Saturday.”

At the Big 12 Tournament last week, Tepesch allowed just two earned runs on eight hits while striking out six in seven innings against the Sooners, who are the No. 7 national seed.

With crowds of 10,000 expected to attend, Jamieson felt Gibson, a semifinalist for
the Golden Spikes award, was best suited to deal with the atmosphere.
Mizzou leadoff man siezes opportunity (Stltoday.com)

It started with his torrid hitting over three straight weekends against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Nebraska in mid-April and early May. In nine games, he hit a blistering .419 with three doubles and a home run while scoring 11 times.

The Kansas City native also drew eight walks and got hit by three pitches, helping him reach base better than 50 percent of the time. Most importantly, the Tigers went 8-1 to jump from eighth to fourth in the Big 12 and get back into NCAA contention.

"I think I was just sticking with that leadoff approach," Holt said. "I was hitting pitches, I was getting in deeper counts, maybe foul a couple off and hopefully making them where they just throw it down the middle."

Mizzou Baseball Quotes: Gambling in Baseball

Trripleplay's prediction: This Regional will be decided on the first day.
• Tim Jamieson is gambling that Nick Tepesch can contain the potent offense of Western Kentucky, and is saving Kyle Gibson for Ole Miss, who will NOT have their ace available for this weekend.

• The Rebels will be sending their #3 guy to face Monmouth's ace, who is good enough to beat just about anyone.
I'm guessing one of those two games will be an upset. Whichever of the top 2 seeds - Ole Miss or Mizzou - wins their first game - that's the team that wins it all.

It's entirely possible, if upsets abound, that the tournament will be decided on Monday in a final game between the top 2 seeds. If that happens, all the doubters and critics of Johnny Wholestaff will see the payback as JW notches the win.

Missouri holds out ace, Mississippi sits Bittle (SunHerald.com)
Missouri coach Tim Jamieson is going to gamble at the Oxford Regional. Mississippi coach Mike Bianco is not.

Jamieson announced Thursday that he will not take the conventional approach and start ace Kyle Gibson in the second-seeded Tigers' first-round game Friday against No. 3 Western Kentucky.

Many coaches send their ace to the mound on the first day of a regional to help ensure their teams remain in the winners' bracket. Jamieson, though, anticipates a Saturday matchup with top seed Ole Miss.
. . .
While Jamieson was shuffling his pieces, Bianco decided to take one of his off the board. He kept ace Scott Bittle off the 25-man roster this weekend because of a shoulder injury. While Bittle has been tossing the ball with no pain, Bianco believes he's not ready to pitch from the mound. Bittle, who's been both a starter and closer this season, has been unavailable to the team since May 3, a stretch of nine games.

"His rehab this week has been more promising and we hope if we make it to a super regional he will be available," Bianco said.
Tepesch gets ball for Missouri in baseball regional opener (Kansas City Star):


Tim Jamieson was a catcher in his playing days, but Thursday proved he could
throw a curveball.

Missouri won’t start ace and All-Big 12 pitcher Kyle Gibson in today’s opening game against Western Kentucky in the NCAA baseball regional in Oxford, Miss. Nick Tepesch, a former Blue Springs High standout, will get the ball.
Missouri's Gibson a top prospect (Columbia Missourian)

Kyle Gibson isn’t spoiled and he isn’t a prima donna. He has a care-free attitude and there is always a smile on his face. Gibson knows he has been given a gift. He has been given the tools to become a success and he’s used them.
. . .
"He was so talented to begin with, that he was thrown into every situation possible," Tigers pitching coach Tony Vitello said. "He wants to do great in everything he does from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed."

In a few weeks, Gibson will have the opportunity to be a millionaire. For now, he just wants to help Missouri advance in the NCAA baseball tournament and this weekend he will take the mound for the Tigers Missouri in an NCAA regional in Oxford, Ms.

“It’s been a pretty good journey for me,” “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
Monmouth eyes elusive NCAA breakthrough win (ClarionLedger.com)

"It's about keeping the game simple," Ehehart said. "Throwing strikes, making routine plays, staying out of big innings and then getting some clutch hitting when you need it."

Monmouth has played only one nationally ranked team this season and that was a three-game series against East Carolina. The Hawks were swept by a combined score of 27-7.
Baseball America previews the Regionals, including Oxford:
• Bittle's status is very much in question going forward, but the Rebels just might have enough pitching to win a regional without him.

• Offensively, the Tigers are an older, gritty unit without much firepower beyond undersized junior Greg Folgia (.330 with 12 homers and 69 RBIs).

• Offense is WKU's calling card, and it has a good one, with power, speed, patience and maturity. Few lineups anywhere have a murderer's row that compares with Western Kentucky's quartet of Matt Hightower (.312 with 11 homers, 51 RBIs and 23 steals), Wade Gaynor (.374 with 22 homers, 70 RBIs and 19 steals), Chad Cregar (.316 with 17 homers, 56 RBIs and 17 steals) and Matt Rice (.393 with eight homers and 66 RBIs).

• The Hawks also have the ability to cause problems for other teams in this regional using their speed: They rank 26th in the nation with 97 stolen bases, and five different starters have double-digit steals
Baseball America also has a podcast discussion of the Regionals.

• Ole Miss and Missouri are like mirrors of each other. Both named after mirrors, and both have been to several Regionals recently but always the bridesmaid and not the bride.

• If they don't have Scott Bittle, its almost like Linus without the blanket.

• Missouri's a good team, a scrappy team, but I just don't know if they have reliable pitching after Kyle Gibson.

• The best offensive team in this Regional is Western Kentucky. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Hilltoppers bash their way through here.

• If you're Missouri you sure can't throw Nick Tepesch at Western Kentucky, who has given up 34 extra base hits this year.

• This is the perfect setting for Johnny Wholestaff.

The College Baseball Blog has a preview of the Oxford Regional, with nothing but names and numbers.

■ CollegeBaseballToday.com says What, You think I'll be able to sleep tonight?
Just 11 months after Fresno State showed what the possibilities could be for all mid-major schools by winning the whole ball of wax against an SEC power, the selection committee all but eliminated at-large bids to northern mid-majors, denying championship teams like Rhode Island, Eastern Illinois, Missouri State and even San Jose State a chance to play in the Big Dance, while rewarding slovenly big-money programs for below-average seasons.

In essence, the committee has announced that Fresno’s Cinderella run to the national title, while it might have pleased the college baseball public to no end, isn’t what the NCAA wants at all.
. . .
Although they’ve been a tad cold lately, I still see the Rebels pulling through at home this weekend. But it won’t be easy and it won’t end anytime before Monday. By the way, also watch out for Ryan Buch of Monmouth in game one against Ole Miss. He’s got 87 Ks in 71 innings and should be a high-round draftee two weeks from now.
RockMNation takes a look at Monmouth:
Clearly I would love for Mizzou to play Monmouth in the winners' bracket on Saturday, but it's probably not going to happen. While the Hawks have some offense, the Rebels' balanced lineup will more than likely eat up Brach and an iffy Monmouth defense. That said, facing the dynamic Buch in the losers' bracket is a bit scary. He's just enough of a strikeout pitcher that he could catch a demoralized Tiger offense off-guard. So how's about we just beat WKU and not have to face that scenario, mmmkay?
■ RockMNation has the Fastest 40 Minutes in Podcasting, joining up with their brother site, Red Cup Rebellion, for a discussion of the Oxford Regional.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Tepesch to go in Game 1

Missouri to hold ace for expected UM game (ClarionLedger.com)
No. 2 seed Missouri is holding ace pitcher Kyle Gibson for Saturday’s game in the Oxford Regional, meaning top-seeded Ole Miss would have to face the right-hander if both the Tigers and Rebels win their Friday games.
. . .
“Kyle is our most experienced pitcher and part of the argument might be that you need to throw him the first game because there’s no guarantee, which there isn’t, but for us to win the regional he's going to have to beat (Ole Miss in the second round),” Jamieson said.Later he added: “We’re not here to win on Friday. We’re here to win the regional.”
Post-practice press conference in Oxford today

Bulked up ace key for Tigers in tourney (Columbia Tribune):

Missouri pitching coach Tony Vitello knew the best way to get results out of then-freshman Kyle Gibson — the long and lean right-hander was not going to back down from a challenge.

So Vitello set up a running competition to see which of them could reach 200 pounds the quickest.
. . .
So of all the stats Gibson has collected during his three-year career at Missouri, his favorite is 40. He is now a solid 208, and he has bragging rights over his coach.

“I was at 190, and he was at 192, and he was always ragging me because he weighed more than I did,” Gibson said. “I just had to put him in silence, because he talks enough during practice.”


■ The 2009 Louisville Slugger All-American Baseball Team was announced today at CollegiateBaseball.com. Kyle Gibson was named to the 2nd Team.

Live Webcasts of Oxford Regional

The games of the Oxford Regional will NOT be televised on ESPN or any other cable or broadcast station. But live video of the games WILL be available:

RebelVision Gamecenter offering FREE live webcasts of Regional (olemisssports.com):

Fans can catch all the action from this weekend's NCAA Baseball Oxford Regional live and for free on OleMissSports.com, as the Rebels' official athletics site will be streaming every game on RebelVision.

The webcasts will be showcased in the new RebelVision Gamecenter, which debuted for the final regular-season home series against Mississippi State. The state-of-the-art portal gives fans an incredible interactive experience with an integrated ticker and built-in live stats, which feature an animated field view and player profile data.

To watch the games, click the Gamecenter link, or visit NCAA Oxford Regional Central for all in-game and postgame links and everything you want to know about this weekend's action.

In addition, RebelVision subscribers can catch all of the team press conferences in the standard media player. Each team will take part in a press conference Thursday and following each game.

RebelVision provides subscribers with live streaming video of press conferences, baseball games and select other sports and on-demand access to coaches' TV show, practice reports and replays of football and basketball. Subscribers can also listen to every Rebel football, baseball and men's and women's basketball game without subscribing to any other service.

OleMissSports.com's RebelVision is your ONLY online source for live streaming video and audio of Ole Miss athletics.

RebelVision Subscription cost is $99.95. There is no discount for one-weekend subscription. But, the online live video streaming is FREE and does not require subscription.

Oxford Education: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

■ Why the "Hilltoppers"?

The operations of Western Kentucky State Normal School were moved from its forerunner, Southern Normal School, to a commanding hill on the southwestern portion of Bowling Green on February 4, 1911. The move was completed as the entire student body marched to the new site, carrying various articles of school equipment.

Since the summit of "the Hill" rises 232 feet above nearby Barren River and the comparatively level plain that surrounds it, it was only natural that the athletes who represented the institution should come to be known as the "Hilltoppers."

Still, the name did not come into use until the 1925-26 school year. Prior to that, Westen teams were commonly referred to as "Pedagogues" or "Teachers" The first WKU uniform to bear the Hilltopper nickname was worn in 1927.
■ And the story of their mascot, as told in Chapter 12, a blog:

The mascot, who is a giant red blob, is simply called Big Red. If you watch enough ESPN, you’ve seen Big Red before, as he appears on many a SportsCenter commercial. Big Red was designed in the late 1970’s. Since it’s really difficult to convey visually what a “Hilltopper” might look like, the person commissioned to design the mascot didn’t even try. Captain Caveman was used to come up with some of the early prototypes. So, Big Red really, truely is “nothing.” Just a big red blob. I think he (or she) is pretty cool, though.
WKU Baseball Earns Program's First-Ever NCAA Tournament At-Large Bid

Following one of the most successful seasons in the program's 90-year history, Western Kentucky University (39-18) received an at-large bid to the 2009 NCAA Baseball Tournament, earning a three-seed in the Oxford, Miss. Regional. The Hilltoppers, who won a share of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Championship, will be making their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament, third in the last six years, and back-to-back appearances for the first time in history.
■ As of Tuesday morning, Western Kentucky is ranked 44th in RPI and 49th in ISR by Boyd's World. Their Strength of Schedule is ranked 89th (compared to Mizzou's 18th)

■ Offical website: WKUSports.com

Roster

Schedule & Results

Statistics
- Team BA: .331; 80 HR:
- Team ERA: 5.40
- Ace pitcher: Matt Hightower, 6-3; 3.92 ERA; Opp BA .271; 80-1/3 IP, 32 BB, 54 SO

Media Guide
■ Quotes from WKU's website:

SMALL WORLD: The last time WKU and Missouri met on the diamond, the Tigers head coach, Tim Jamieson, was finishing up his senior season at fellow Sun Belt Conference school New Orleans. The Hilltoppers took the one and only meeting with Missouri 5-4 on March 11, 1981 in Panama City, Fla. That 1981 Topper team went on to win 41 games and win the Ohio Valley Conference North Division.

TITLETOWN: WKU's two tournament titles in the last five seasons is the most over that span in the Sun Belt Conference. The Toppers also won a share of the 2009 Sun Belt Conference Regular Season crown for the first time in school history.

SEEING 20-20: Junior third baseman Wade Gaynor needs one stolen base to become the first player in WKU history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a single season.

HOME RUN TEAR: HOME RUN TEAR: Wade Gaynor ranks third all-time at WKU with 40 career home runs (22 this season) while teammate Chad Cregar is fourth with 38 (17 this year).
HilltopperHaven.com is a message board for fans of Western Kentucky. Some quotes from a May 15th discussion on the Baseball Board:

01Topper: Baseballers in a slump. The season comes down to one game tomorrow at 1:00, for all the marbles. Talk about a week finish. We've lost 4 in a row (including two by 6 runs & one by 8 at home). Even with a win tomorrow, we probably have to make the SBC finals for an at-large bid.

Hammer: this does not seem to be the same team I have been watching this season, we are trying to play our way out a championship and out of an at-large bid.

therightcall: you should be able to expect more out of your ace

hilltoppertom: We are all disappointed with the way the regular season ended. I hope the team comes out to play in the Sun Belt tournament with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove and I think they will. I believe when WKU is hitting on all cylinders they can go deep in theNCAA tournament


The bats go silent (Bowling Green Daily News):

“I don’t have (an explanation),” WKU coach Chris Finwood said. “We were terrible at the plate. It’s just a shame. I don’t know how that happens because we didn’t face good pitching today.”
. . .
Even more humbling for the Hilltoppers is the fact that they were stymied in the nightcap by a ULM pitcher who hadn’t started a game this season. ULM’s Corey Brown, who had only thrown 31 2⁄3 innings in 16 appearances, threw 7 1⁄3 innings and gave up only two earned runs on six hits and three walks.
■ RockMNation has a few nuggets in Know Your NCAA Regional Opponent: 3-seed Western Kentucky:
• In all, the closest thing WKU has to a marquee win is the win in Lexington and the strong performance against Troy. They beat who they needed to beat to make the tourney, but there's no single outstanding result.

• As a whole, pretty much everybody on the team has at least a .400 on-base %--the team as a whole gets on base a ridiculous 42.8% of the time. You don't score 8.8 runs per game without getting on base a ton, I guess.
The College Heights Herald reported on the Toppers changing pitching schedule back on April 28:

Hightower pitched his third Friday night game of the season after pitching the season's first six Saturday games.

Coach Chris Finwood gave junior pitcher Matt Ridings the chance to become the Friday starter this season after going 10-3 with a team-best 3.88 ERA in 16 appearances in 2008, mostly pitching on Saturdays, but moved him back to Saturday starts before the April 10-12 home series with New Orleans.

Ridings went 4-0 in six Friday appearances before pitching the last two innings of Western's 10-9 win at Kentucky on April 8, earning his second career save.

"That happened to be on a Wednesday, and I couldn't have come back to throw on Friday," Ridings said. "They moved me back to Saturday, and Hightower's throwing really well, so it just happened to work out both ways for us."

Oxford Education: Mississippi Rebels

■ About the the nickname "Ole Miss"
There is a valid distinction between The University and Ole Miss even though the separate threads are closely interwoven.

The University is buildings, trees and people. Ole Miss is mood,emotion and personality. One is physical, and the other is spiritual. One is tangible, and the other intangible.

The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss.
■ Commons opponents: Mizzou and Ole Miss have only one common opponent from the 2009 season:
Mississippi lost, 15-11, to St. Louis U on 3/24
Missouri's Johnny Wholestaff defeated SLU at Busch Stadium, 19-6, in 4/1.
OleMissSports.com is the official website for Mississippi athletics:
Roster

Schedule/ Results
Statistics
Team BA: .315
Team ERA: 4.18

Media Guide
■ As I discovered last year, Clarion Ledger sports writer Rick Cleveland has a Blog that is always entertaining and informative, and his regular columns are always a good read.

■ Ole Miss' ace pitcher is unlikely to pitch in this Regional
Bittle still resting (American Chronicle, 5/25):
It's wait-and-see also for the Rebels' All-America pitcher, Scott Bittle. Nothing has changed since Wednesday ,when Birmingham physician Dr. James Andrews diagnosed Bittle with a strained anterior capsule and prescribed rest.

"We feel very confident that he will throw eventually, and we hope it will be in the next week or so or sometime this season for us," Bianco said.

Life without Bittle: Can the Ole Miss staff really handle it? (Clarion Ledger)
On paper, even without superman Scott Bittle, this Ole Miss baseball team appears to have a good pitching staff. Even with two rough games in Hoover, the Rebels have a 4.18 ERA as a team. But there's been a disturbing trend among the Ole Miss starting pitching since Bittle went down with his shoulder injury on May 3. To put it bluntly, it just hasn't been very good
. . .
Total: 48 innings (averaging 5.33 innings per start), 35 runs, 32 earned: Starters ERA in nine games: 6.00, Record 5-4.Needless to say, that's not very good. Notice that only once during that stretch did a starter pitch into the seventh inning.
Bad news outweighs good for UM (clarionledger.com)
Worst of all, gone, most likely, is senior ace pitcher Scott Bittle. As you've read in this space before, Ole Miss is a really good college baseball team without Bittle. With him, they are much, much better.

Which brings us to today's literally million dollar questions: What in the heck is an anterior capsule? And how serious is it when said capsule is strained?
. . .
So I called good friend Gene Barrett, an orthopedic surgeon at Mississippi Sports Medicine, and asked for a definition in layman's terms.

"That's hard," Barrett said. "The capsule helps hold the ball in the socket of your
shoulder."

I thought the labrum did that. A labrum tear is what ended Boo Ferriss' pitching career.

"Actually it's the labrum and the capsule that hold it in place," Barrett said. "The capsule is fibrous, gristly looking stuff that can get stretched or strained."
■ How deep is Ole Miss pitching? Consider that they were 16-2 in midweek games, which says a lot about the success of their 4th and 5th starters.

RebelSports.net has some smack talk on their board:
Rebel_richman: What are you whining about? Our regional is as easy as we've ever had and UC Irvine has a very difficult regional that they could struggle with

jeddreb: My high-school stadium was bigger than theirs, lol.
Ole Miss Spirit is an active message board. A few recent comments:
moixca: We couldn't have asked for a better matchup...The Regional is a cakewalk and our National Seed pairing is A) Overrated as hell and B) likely to be upset in their regional because it is a beast. This is the year, no big name team to be intimidated by... we should seriously sweep our way to OMAHA

LoneStarReb: Mizzou has been a tough team in the Big(flop)XII this season. they have had some upsets! We need to watch for them!

supertone: Easy draw for Mizzou. Much better than hoped for. This could be a cake walk to the CWS for ole Mizzou.

Red Cup Rebellion is an Ole Miss blog with a sense of humor:
• Kyle Gibson is a beast on the mound(10-3, 3.47 ERA). I've heard reports from team managers in Columbia that Gibson struck out Mizzou alum Ian Kinsler during a simulated game. Kinsler was swinging with a wiffle ball bat and was drunk. And yes, Gibson was throwing coffee can lids, but still wow, what an arm.

• There's only two players with batting averages over .300 with Greg Folgia leading the team in nearly every offensive category. Folgia is majoring in General Studies, which is by far the most popular choice for the learning disabled but physically gifted.
Blue Springs grads put in same NCAA baseball regional (Examiner.net)
Missouri features three Blue Springs High School graduates – pitcher Nick Tepesch and infielders T.J. Schieber and Austin Holt – as well as one Blue Springs South grad, pitcher Ryan Gargano

Ole Miss features one Blue Springs graduate, pitcher Kyle Barbeck.

Barbeck, Tepesch and Schieber were teammates in the 2007 team that claimed the Class 4 state title with an 11-3 victory over Wentzville Holt in the championship game. Schieber and Barbeck each pitched in that championship game and Schieber and Tepesch each had an RBI.

■ Police Blotter: SS Tim Ferguson

Oxford Education: Missouri Tigers

■ Official Website: MUTigers.com
Roster

Schedule

Statistics
Team BA: .270
Team ERA: 4.97
Despite ugly stats, Missouri baseball continues to win (Columbia Missourian):

The Tigers finished last in hitting in Big 12 Conference games, finished fifth in pitching, finished sixth in team fielding and often used its bullpen to pitch an entire game. Only two hitters finished with a batting average over .300 and only outfielder Greg Folgia hit more than six home runs.

Yet, at the end of the season, Missouri (35-26) stood in third place in the conference and played for the Big 12 tournament championship Sunday.

“If people look at our numbers, they’re going to underestimate us,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’ve had timely hitting, we’ve had timely pitching and when we’ve pitched well enough, the offense has scored enough runs.”

Athletic success now nearly routine at Missouri (AP)

Baseball coach Tim Jamieson remembers the dark days well. Now in his 21st year as a Missouri coach, including six as an assistant, he described an athletic department in disarray, save for Norm Stewart's basketball program.

"When I first got here, in all sports other than basketball, it was as bad as bad could be," Jamieson said. "The atmosphere within the department, the facilities, the budget ... you can't imagine a school in a big-time conference being any worse than we were."
. . .
"It's the complete package now," said Jamieson. "The first 18, 19 years of my career, Missouri athletics was a stepping stone (for coaches). Now it's a destination."

Oxford Education: Monmouth Hawks

■ Offical Website: GoMUHawks.com

Schedule & Results

Roster

Statistics
- Team BA: .323
- Team ERA: 5.32
- Top 2 pitchers:
Ryan Buch: 7-4, 4.11 ERA, 72.1 IP, 31 BB, 87 SO, 7 HR
BrettBrach: 7-2, 4.61 ERA, 68.1 IP, 12 BB, 69 SO, 10 HR

Media Guide

■ As of Tuesday morning, Monmouth's RPI is ranked 195th and their ISR is 195th (Boyd'sWorld). Their Strength of Schedule is ranked 264th (out of 300 teams).

■ The newspaper of record for Monmouth sports seems to be the Asbury Park Press.
According to a Monday article, Monmouth will be pitching Brett Brach in Game 1 against Mississipi, not the more highly touted Ryan Buch.

■ Monmouth's ace, Ryan Buch, played with Mizzou's Greg Folgia in summer ball, for the Quakerstown Blazers.

■ Buch is projected to be drafted in the early rounds this June:

The Monmouth University product has been throwing 91-93 consistently and has an average curveball which shows flashes of being very good and a decent change up. The inconsistency of Buch's curveball prevents him from rising on draft boards, but [ESPN] still projects him in between the 3rd and 5th rounds. baseballrumormill.com)
MU baseball preview (APP.com):
Monmouth senior second baseman Chris Collazo, a Wall High School graduate who led the Hawks with a .375 average, said Monmouth’s potent attack was no shock to him. “”I knew we were going to swing the bats good this year from Day One in the Fall,”said the 2009 NEC Tournament MVP. “”Everyone on our team is a quality hitter and a tough out,” Collazo said. . “”Eventhe guys who aren’t hitting .300 are still tough outs. ”‘We wear other team’s pitching down, score a lot of runs.’
Red Cup Rebellion has some humorous thoughts on Monmouth:
Comes he to you from New Jersey with wins - 32 of them and an aweful Northeastern Conference Tournament victory. Cower in his eerie yellow stare. He has defeated your puny Navy and slain mighty Rutgers, Princeton, and New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is, verifiably, the king of Garden State baseball.

MVPs of the Month for May

It's time again to cast your votes for the Player of the Month and Pitcher of the Month in our SimmonsField.com "You Make the Call" poll.

The stats below are for May only, for the 13 games from May 1 through the Big 12 Tournament; Stat leaders in BOLD):

Player of the Month

Ryan Ampleman: .293 BA (12-for-41), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 2 HBP, 14 SO, 0-1 SB

Greg Folgia: .267 BA (12-for-45), 9 R, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 8 BB, 3 HBP, 12 SO

Steve Gray: .245 BA (13-for-53), 8 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 15 SO, 1-3 SB

Austin Holt: .190 BA (8-for-42), 13 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 12 BB, 7 HBP, 13 SO, 2-2 SB

Ryan Lollis: .269 BA (14-of-52), 10 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBI, 9 BB, 1 HBP, 9 SO, 4-4 SB

Kyle Mach: .392 BA (20-for-51), 13 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 4 SO, 0-1 SB

Aaron Senne: .224 BA (11-for-48), 8 RBI, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 10 BB, 11 SO


Pitcher of the Month

Brad Buehler: 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 10 APP, 4 SAVES, 9-1/3 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 8 BB, 11 SO

Ryan Gargano: 0-0, 2.16 ERA, 8 APP, 8-1/3 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

Kyle Gibson: 3-0, 3.13 ERA, 4 APP, 23 IP, 18 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 24 SO

Scooter Hicks: 2-2, 6 APP, 15-2/3 IP, 14 G, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO

Phil McCormick: 1-1, 7.50 ERA, 10 APP, 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO

<<<< The polls are located in the left-hand column here at SimmonsField.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Oxford Regional

OXFORD REGIONAL
May 29-June 1 Oxford, Miss.

Friday
Game 1: #3 Western Kentucky (39-18) vs. #2 Missouri (34-25), 3PM CST
Game 2: #4 Monmouth (32-23) vs. #1 Mississippi (40-17)*, 7 PM CST.

Saturday
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 1 PM
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5 PM

Sunday
Game 5: Game 4 loser vs. Game 3 winner, 1 PM
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 PM

Monday
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if first loss), 7 PM

TV Coverage: Still undetermined/unannounced

Listen Live: KTGR AM 1580 (KTGR.com live streaming audio)

Live Stats

Oxford Regional Central: Ticket information, schedules, weather, visitor's guide

Official NCAA 2009 Oxford Regional Manual (pdf): More detailed information than you could possibly want or need (unless you're a representative of a participating team):

■ Delays because of long games or weather will mean adjustment in the above schedule will have to be made. The times will stay relative to the game starting time. There will be a minimum of 50 minutes between each game

■ The home team will occupy the third base dugout for all games

■ Determination of Home Team

For first round games, the highest seeded team shall be designated as the home team. In subsequent games, the home team shall be determined according to a formula applied by the games committee. In determining which of two teams in any
game will be the home team, the games committee uses the following guidelines:

• The institution that has been the home team the fewer number of times in that particular tournament shall be designated the home team.

• If the two teams are equal in this respect but unequal in the number of times they were the visitor, then the team that has been the visitor more often will be designated the home team.

If the two teams are equal in the number of times that they have been home and visitor, the games committee or the NCAA game representative shall observe the following procedures in the order stated:

1. If the two teams have met previously in that particular tournament, the visitor in the previous game shall be the home team in the game in question.

2. The team that was visitor in its preceding game shall be the home team, unless both teams were visitors in their preceding games.

3. If the above procedures do not resolve the matter, the home team shall be determined by a coin toss. The coin toss will be held on the field immediately after the game that causes the situation to develop and both coaches are to be in attendance.
■ The 12 run rule shall not be used for regionals or super regionals.

■ Mizzou's hotel for the tournament: Holiday In Express, 112 Heritage Dr.

Coming Thursday at SimmonsField.com: Notes, Quotes, Links and Laughs on OleMiss, Western Kentucky and Monmouth.

Oxford Regional Previews & Predictions:

Tigers headed to Mississippi (PowerMizzou.com):

Missouri will play at Swayze Field which can hold close to 3,000 people and gives the Rebels a big home-field advantage. Ole Miss finished the year at 40-17 and won the regular season SEC title. They were eliminated from the SEC Tournament after losses to Georgia and Florida. Even though the Rebels have an impressive resume, catcher Trevor Coleman said Missouri is taking it one game at a time. "We can't look at Ole Miss," he said. "There are 64 of the best teams in the country, and any one of those 64 teams can beat any of the other ones at any given time. We're not about to look past Western Kentucky."
Putting it behind them (Columbia Tribune):
The Tigers faced the Rebels twice last season in the Coral Gables, Fla., Regional. Missouri won 7-0 in the opening game but was eliminated with a 9-6 loss two days later. Logan Power, whose eighth-inning grand slam defeated the Tigers in the elimination round, is hitting .314 with a team-high 52 RBI. The Rebels have nine players hitting better than .300.

“We played them last year, so we know what to expect from them,” Missouri junior Aaron Senne said. “I remember they hit well.”

They pitched well, too. Though ace Lance Lynn was drafted, reliever Scott Bittle is back. Bittle, who developed a pitch that’s a cross between a slider and a cut fastball, struck out 12 Tigers in 41/3 innings last year. This season, the senior right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 452/3 innings.

Oxford Regional Capsules (Clarion Ledger)

• MU comes into the regional with some momentum after making the Big 12 Tournament finals before losing to Texas. The Tigers don't have a lot of stars
outside of Gibson, but are good at finding ways to win. Missouri and UM are in the same regional for the second year in a row, with the two teams splitting two games last season.

• Western Kentucky: Though a No. 3 seed, this is a very dangerous team from an underrated conference. If the bats get hot, it could be hard to slow down the Hilltoppers. Ole Miss knows that WKU can be a spoiler after losing to the Toppers 1-0 in the opening round of the 2004 NCAA Regional in Oxford

• Monmouth certainly has some momentum after scoring 35 runs in three games to win the Northeast Conference Tournament.


Boyd's World has statistical probabilities for the Tournament field of 64, based on ISR.
Mizzou has a 20% probability of winning the Regional, a 5.8% probability of winning a Super Regional, 0.4% of reaching the final championship series at the College World Series, and 0.1% of winning the CWS. That puts MU tied with 10 other teams for 23rd most likely to win it all.
And in non-Regional related news:

USA Baseball announces 30 semi-finalists for 2009 Golden Spikes Award: Kyle Gibson is among the semi-finalists.

MU vs. W. Ky Friday, 3PM CT

LINK: Detailed schedule for Oxford Tournament

Mizzou Baseball Recruits

■ One that got away: If Travis Mitchell had passed up the pros and come to Mizzou, he could now be a Junior for the Tigers, preparing for his third straight NCAA Regional.

River Bandit outfielder has shot at dream job with Cardinals (QCTimes.com):
Growing up in the shadows of St. Louis' old Busch Stadium, Travis Mitchell always dreamed of playing baseball for his hometown team.
. . .
He is off to a .267 start at the plate for the Class A Quad-Cities River Bandits and has demonstrated the quickness and instincts in the outfield that were among the reasons St. Louis made the Chesterfield, Mo., native its 13th-round choice in the 2006 draft.

At the time, Mitchell had already signed a letter of intent to follow in his father's footsteps. He had signed to continue his career at Missouri, where his father Jim Mitchell played center field for the Tigers before a shoulder injury brought his career to an abrupt end.
. . .
Mitchell was prepared to begin his college career in the Big 12, but opted to begin his professional career after being selected by the Cardinals.
. . .
"He has good quickness and has shown good enthusiasm and a willingness to work," Dillard said. "We just need to harness his energy into the right direction and that will help him a lot."

Mitchell, now 21 years old, has a better understanding of that as his fourth professional season begins.

"This game is about learning, about growing, and I see that now more than ever," he
said.

Growing up in the neighborhood of the parent club he now works for hasn't hurt. Mitchell has access to the Cardinals' training facilities at Busch Stadium in the offseason and having a chance to be around other St. Louis players who live in that area as they work is one perk he relishes.

"To have a chance to be around guys like Kyle McClellan and Chris Duncan, guys who have made it to the majors, and to see how hard they work, I learn a lot by watching
them," Mitchell said. "I'm trying to get where they are at."

Mizzou Baseball in the Minors

■ RHP Andrew Johnston (05) was 13-for-13 in save opportunities until he blew one on May 24. He earned his first win instead (milb.com)

First round draft pick Aaron Crow pitches Fort Worth Cats to victory (Forth Worth Star-Telegram):
Crow (06-07), a 2008 first-round selection in the major league draft, pitched six shutout innings, allowing only three hits, with four strikeouts and no walks on 67 pitches.

"I felt pretty good," Crow said. "I had really good command today and was throwing a lot of strikes, so I felt pretty good about that."

Crow, who is re-entering this year’s draft after declining a contract last year with the Washington Nationals, said he’ll throw one last time during the Cats’ May 29-31 homestand before the 2009 draft in June.

Things turned a bit interesting in Crow’s final inning when he hit Carlos Arroyo with a pitch. Arroyo didn’t take the plunking sportingly and threw a bat toward Crow. Cats catcher Kelley Gulledge immediately stepped in front of Arroyo as both teams wound up on the field. No punches were thrown.
■ San Antonio starter Nathan Culp (04-06) needed just 59 pitches to get through six innings. The Hooks’ situational hitting also was subpar, going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. (Caller.com)

■ Starting pitcher Rick Zagone (06-07) struck out 10 batters in six innings, and the Shorebirds held off Hickory, 1-0. The 22-year-old left-hander gave up two hits and issued three walks. (Baltimore Sun)

■ The Oklahoma City Redhawks may have also lost starting pitcher Doug Mathis (05) who went 2 1/3 innings on May 25th before being lifted for a possible call-up to Texas, according to NewsOK.com. AS of this morning (May 27th), that transaction had not yet taken place.

Erik Dessau (04-05) is now playing in the independent Golden League for the Calgary Vipers. He pitched his 1st league game 5/25/09 & got a win. The Vipers won 10-3 over the Victoria Seals.

James Boone (03-05), of the Altoona Curve, was on hand at the local Barnes & Noble, along with his General Manager and the Curve Mascot, to read baseball-themed stories to local kids.

Justin James (02-03) had a good outing for the Kansas City T-Bones this weekend, according to kansascitykansan.com:
Game two was considerably less quiet, as Justin James' shut down Winnipeg, pitching six solid innings and allowed just two runs and four hits.
Garret Broshuis (02-04) has a new Prospect Diary at Baseball America:
Collectively, the bullpen views kids much the same way the hippo views the oxpecker. The hippo gains a lot from this bird, as it eats all the bugs that inevitably cover its four-ton body—an impossible task for those stumpy little legs to perform. But all that pecking and noise that birds make has to get annoying. They fly around, yap at each other, and invite their friends to the tea party. Before long, what began as a single symbiotic relationship turns into a bird fiesta. And birds smell. After a while, all the hippo wants to do is lay in his muck in peace. Yet the birds keep yapping and pecking, yapping and pecking, yapping and pecking. Before long, the hippo loses it: he opens his giant mouth and screams. The birds frantically scatter.
■ Speaking of blogging ballplayers, Hunter Mense (04-06) has a recent entry at The Life and Times of Aitch:
They actually keep a hard hit column from team to team in our organization. The first month I was second on the team in hard hit balls, so the way I look at it is if I keep hitting the ball hard eventually they’ll find holes and eventually the balls that I hit hard and got out on will lead to a broken bat hit or an infield single. The challenge when you struggle numbers wise is to get away from what works and mentally try to do things that aren’t capable of doing from at- bat to at-bat. For example, in a single at-bat you’re only going to be able to at most get one hit. It’s a slow and gradual process to turning things around but if you stick with your plan and stay positive then things will turn around.

Mizzou Baseball Recruits


■ Final 2009 season stats for Eric Anderson, Mountain Vista HS:

Batting: .507 Avg (38-for-75), 38 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI 5 SO, 14 BB, 8-FOR-9 SB, .602 ob%, .960 slg %, 21 PO, 3 #, .909 Fielding %

Pitching: 9-0, 1.806 ERA, 26 G, 5 CG, 2 SHO, 62 IP, 34 H, 21 R, 16 ER, 19 BB, 81 SO, 4.263 K/BB, 0.45 K/7, 0.855 WHIP
West baseball star Blake Brown 'pretty special' (pantagraph.com):
Whether sending the baseball sailing over the outfield fence or taking the extra base on a hit to the gap, Blake Brown appears almost effortless.

The swing is smooth and balanced. The stride is swift and efficient.Yet what appears to come easy to the Normal West High School outfielder has been honed by plenty of effort.

And when that off-field labor merges splendidly with Brown’s considerable natural talent, the result is a sight — and a baseball player — to behold.

“He’s pretty special,” West coach Chris Hawkins said. “He’s tough to get out. He’s
very mechanically sound and willing to hit to all fields.”

A University of Missouri recruit who also has drawn the interest of professional scouts, Brown is batting .446 with a school-record 12 home runs, 35 RBIs and 19 stolen bases for the 25-5 Wildcats.

“He’s got a cannon (for an arm), he can swing for power, hit for average and he can run,” said teammate, close friend and offseason training partner Colton Moore. “He’s got all the tools, and he’s using them well.”
. . .
Bloomington coach Steve Clapp, who has coached Brown in summer ball, saw plenty of those abilities last week when Brown blasted five home runs in two games against the Purple Raiders.

“A lot of times people think this is a football, basketball community all the time,” Clapp said. “It’s a shame the community doesn’t come out and see him play. I think he’ll have a great career at Missouri and then opportunities past that. The kid is special.”

Although Brown could be selected in the June first-year player draft, he plans to attend Missouri.

“It’s an honor to be considered for that,” he said. “But I’m putting that on the backburner. I’m thinking about that in my free time and trying to stay focused on the season.”
Kale Gaden has been receiving end-of-season accolades. He was named to the Oklahoma All State Team (Large East). He also was named to the Rawlings/Perfect Game All Region Team. And he has been nominated for consideration as the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year and for High School Louisville Slugger All American.

■ From Tigerboard.com:
tigereye: While we may be losing some good players soon I met a couple of recruits this weekend at the BIG 12 Champ. The Garcia kid [Eric Garcia] just looks like a ball player. He has the body type and build of a MIF. He said he is excited and ready to get started at Mizzou. The other was a position player who just played and won the NJCAA Division III world series. [I don't have a name on thi splayer as of yet - trrip]

Mizzou Baseball Recruit: Scott Sommerfild, 1B, OF, C

Manchester, MO
Parkway South HS
6'1", 185 lb, R/R

■ 2009 stats (as of 5/27): .545 BA, .624 OB%, 1.091 Slg%, 96 PA, 77 AB, 34 R, 42 H, 6 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 43 RBI, 84 TB, 0.054 Ks/PA, 12 BB, 5 K, 4 HBP, 8-8 SB, 3 SAC

Parkway South's Sommrefeld to join Tigers, not Illini (StlToday.com)

“It’s kind of a hard switch,” Sommerfeld said. “I had to go in with an open mind and find what was best for me in the future both academically and athletically. It was tough.”

Sommerfeld had earlier committed to join the Illinois baseball team as a recruited walk-on, with the opportunity to receive scholarship aid after his freshman season.
. . .
The Parkway South standout, who was batting .619 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs going into Monday’s game against Chaminade, said he was being recruited by the Tigers as an outfielder, but could also see time at first base next season and possibly at catcher down the road. He will receive a partial scholarship from Missouri.

He is looking forward to continuing his career in Columbia next season along with several of his teammates with the Rawlings Prospects summerteam: Edwardsville outfielder Dane Opel, St. Charles West outfielder Brannon Champagne and St. Charles West pitcher Andy Heifner.
Big Ten Network had a profile of Sommerfeld when he originally committed to Illinois:

• Named a first-team All-State outfielder by the Missouri High School Baseball
Coaches Association in 2008, one of only three juniors named to the 18-man squad

• 2008 Suburban West Conference Player of the Year runner-up

• Named to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro second team as an outfielder ... All-Suburban West first team outfielder in 2008 and first baseman in 2007

• Honorable mention All-Metro first baseman in 2007

• Led Parkway South to a district championship and a berth in the state quarterfinals in 2008

• Hit .475 in 2008 and .420 in 2007

• Six-time varsity letterman, earning three letters in football and two in baseball

• Named to the Post-Dispatch's 2008 All-Metro football team as a punter.
■ Sommerfeld also was the Quarterback for the Parkway South football team

■ Comments from Tigerboard.com:

mizzouinthestl13: Heck of a bat and a good utility athlete that can play all positions on the field. His swing has a few odd quirks that may need to be adjusted for him to experience the same success at the college level. He is a RH hitter. I have not heard anything about him committing at this time but I do know that his HS teammate, Kevin Pohle is a 2010 recruit that Mizzou is very high on and has already offered. He is already being clocked between 89-91 mph.

Mizzou415: One of only two juniors to make 1st-Team All-State Coaches' team last year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tigers happy, but a lot of College Baseball is not

Tigers headed to Mississippi (PowerMizzou.com):

No one seems to know too much about the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. "Not a whole lot," Gibson said. "I mean I'm sure they won their conference. They have to be a decent team to be a three seed in a regional. We're going to attack them like we have been doing to other teams."

"Not a whole lot. I know that I hit a home run against them in 1980," coach Tim Jamieson said with a chuckle.

Catcher hopes to return for Missouri's appearance in NCAA regional (Columbia Missourian):


“Hopefully, I’ll be ready for Friday,” Coleman said. “That’s the goal.”

Coleman had two pins surgically removed from the injured hand last Thursday and immediately started trying to get his arm back in shape . Coleman plans to test out his arm, his swing and catching abilities in a scrimmage Tuesday.

“Throwing is a concern, but I think hitting is the biggest concern,” Coleman said.
■ CollegeBaseballBlog has a very informative NCAA Tourney Preview Chat, including a discussion about the Mississippi Regional:
  • Colin Weber: What's the status of Scott Bittle (Ole Miss ace pitcher)?
  • Brian Foley: Last I heard, but this was last week that they expected him out for a substantial amount of time...I think he has to be out this week. I think he has a strain in his arm according to Baseball America which got this quote from Coach Bianco

    "I’m not a doctor, but I was told it’s a strain," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said Friday afternoon. "We were told that with rest, there’s a very good chance his shoulder will be fine, and he will not need surgery."
  • Donald Boyles: If Missouri can get by Western Kentucky as the three seed with out using Kyle Gibson, Then this sets up Missouri very well!
  • Brian Foley: That is the most important thing here...whether or not Gibson pitches against Western Kentucky....Wade Gaynor of Western Kentucky has a .374 average and 22 homers so he can rake.
  • Colin Weber: Can I do a "if" prediction? :) If Gibson pitches in the first game, I like Ole Miss. If Missouri can get by Western Kentucky without pitching Gibson, I like Missouri to win the regional.
■ Baseball America weighs on the NCAA Tournament selections, both in the College Baseball Blog and in a Podcast:
• Oklahoma State is a horrendous, horrendous choice as an at-large bid. . . . Oklahoma State went 5-6-2 in weekend series

• And Baylor gets in as well. So eight of the ten teams in the Big 12 are in regionals. Disgusting.

■ CollegeBaseball.Rivals.com weighs in with Selection committee makes puzzling decisions:
It was a big day for the Big 12 and not such a great day for others. Oklahoma earned a national seed that was somewhat deserving considering it established amazing consistency in Big 12 play. The committee, though, threw everyone for a loop by including Baylor and Oklahoma State – two bad and undeserving teams – in the regional field.
CollegeBaseballToday isn't much happier:
How hard can it be? Why is it that I am confident if you put me, Mark Etheridge, Aaron Fitt, Brian DeCaussin, Brian Foley, Phil Stanton, Sean Ryan, The Doctor of College Baseball, my dog… okay Kendall, you can join in too, and of course, Professor Glenn Tanner, into a room we could EASILY come up with a better field of teams? Mainly because we follow college baseball all season long.
■ The Kansas City Star talks about Eight Big 12 baseball teams selected for NCAA field:
The Big 12 landed a record eight teams on the 64-team bracket. A nod to selection-committee chairman Tim Weiser, the Big 12 deputy commissioner?

He can’t be in the room when teams from his conference are being discussed, but Big 12 coaches said throughout the league tournament in Oklahoma City last week the conference played stronger than ever.
. . .
This is Missouri’s seventh straight appearance in the NCAA. The Tigers made the super regional in 2006.

As good as the Big 12 has been this season, coaches know the conference ultimately will be judged on what happens over the next two weekends. No Big 12 team has reached the College World Series since Texas won the 2005 championship.

“We have to get some teams to Omaha,” Jamieson said.
■ An odd turn of phrase at TexasSports.com: With bases loaded and Texas up 4-1 and still no outs in the fourth, Ryan Clubb took the mound for Missouri, but was unable to coagulate the bleeding.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tigers headed to Oxford, MS for NCAA Regional

■ The Missouri Tigers will be the 2nd seed in the Oxford, MS Regional. Participants and seeding:
#1 Ole Miss (17th RPI)
#2 Missouri (31st)
#3 Western Kentucky (44th)
#4 Monmouth (177th)

The detailed schedule of games will be released later today or tomorrow at mutigers.com.

Wearing Black & Gold worth every penny (Columbia Tribune):

At Missouri and top schools across the country, many of the athletes so celebrated in high school are paying significant sums to play in college.

It’s a reality largely overlooked — or misunderstood — because of the glamour surrounding football and basketball. But the next time an accomplished high school athlete holds a signing-day ceremony, there’s a good chance they’re paying for much of their education.

In most sports, full scholarships are scarce. Baseball, for instance, is allowed only 11.7 scholarships to divide among a 35-man roster. Wrestling has 9.9 scholarships for a roster of 30, men’s track and field must split 12 scholarships among nearly 50 athletes and softball carries 12 scholarships for 22 players.
Tigers fall short of title (Columbia Tribune):

Hicks, who started yesterday after being out the first few days of the event with the flu, retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, though that one hit was Preston Clark’s long home run to left field in the third inning.

“I’m still getting over that sickness right now,” Hicks said. “From the start of the
game, just from finishing stretching, I was already winded and pretty exhausted. Throughout the game, I was just trying to battle that. That was probably my biggest opponent.”

Texas demolishes Missouri in Big 12 title game (Columbia Missourian):
Senior outfielder Ryan Lollis was the only player Missouri player named to the All-Tournament team.

Missouri batters drew 10 walks but left eight base runners stranded. All season, Missouri has made the most of the offensive opportunities that the opponents gave it but today struggled.

"We didn't get hits when we wanted to," Lollis said. "We didn't get timely hitting."

Defense big part of the college game (NewsOK.com):
So the offensive sacrifice often comes at those key positions up the middle — catcher, shortstop, second base, center field.

"If you’re going to give up something at those positions, it’s going to be offense,” Jamieson said. "Then hopefully you can find enough guys at the other spots to provide your offense.”

In general, there has become more reliance on speed in the Big 12, with a recent spike in stolen bases. And speed can translate to better defense, too.

Q & A with Kyle gibson (NewsOK.com): You really need to read the whole Q&A sessin yourself, But just one quote:

Q: What’s your favorite baseball movie and why?

A: "For Love of the Game.” I like the pitching aspect of it. I like watching (Kevin Costner) battling through adversity and coming back from it.

Oh, and Gibby confesses his greatest adversity: he's a Cubs fan.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MU Softball headed to World Series

Congratulations to the Mizzou Softball team, who defeated #2 ranked UCLA this weekend 2 games to 1 to advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, OK.

UT 12, MU 7

■ Missouri loses to the Longhorns, so they failed to win the Big 12 tourney title, but most assuredly helped their status in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee by getting to the championship game this weekend.


■ NCAA Regional Hosts were announced Sunday afternoon. Details at NCAA.com

Arizona State, Tempe, AZ
UC Irvine, Irvine, CA
Cal State Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Clemson, Clemson, SC
East Carolina, Greenville, NC
Florida, Gainesville, FL
Florida St., Tallahassee, Fla
Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA
Louisiana State, Baton Rouge, LA
Louisville, Louisville, KY
Mississippi, Oxford, MS
North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Rice, Houston, TX
Texas, Austin, TX
Texas Christian, Fort Worth, TX


Where will Mizzou go? The remaining at-large teams, top-eight national seeds, first-round regional pairings and site assignments will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, Monday,
May 25, during a live, half-hour program on ESPN.

The Tigers will host a watch party for the selection show at the Clinton Club in Mizzou Arena. Doors will open at 11 a.m.

You can also see Mizzou's destination and pairings posted at mutigers.com. The quickest online way to learn MU's destination would be on the All Sports board at Tigerboard.com, where there are always several folks quick to post the details as they are announced.


Don't look here at Simmonsfield.com for quick info - I'll be away from my computer most of the day. But I'll be posting info about MU's Regional opponents throughout this week.


So . . . where do we WANT Mizzou to go?


MU won't be going to Austin, TX or Norman, OK - they don't want to match up teams in the same conference in a Regional.


Every Regional will be tough, but MU doesn't want to get sent to one of the top 5 or 6 ranked teams, like they did last year (going to the toughest regional in the tournament, at Miami). So we'd like to avoid Fullerton, North Carolina, Georgia Tech or Arizona State.


On the other hand, going to a Regional in Tempe, AZ would be an ironic and somewhat fitting full-circle twist on the Tigers' 2009 season, after MU's disastrous opening road trip to Arizona.

The hosting teams with the lowest RPI rankings (according to Boyd's World) are Mississippi (17th), Louisville (21st) and Eastern Carolina (23rd).


If you're traveling to the Regional, California probably looks appealing, so Irvine would be a possibility.


There's really no telling whether MU will get sent to someplace that could actually qualify as "regional" or whether the Tiegrs will wind up in someplace far away.


Going to Houston with Rice as the #1 seed , or to Fort Worth with Texas Christian could be interesting, since Mizzou is scheduled to play in the 2010 Houston College Classic the first weekend in March, which will include games against each of those teams.


The most intriguing matchup would be at Louisville, where the villain of the 2006 Regional in Columbia, Chris Dominguez, is now a senior for the Louisville Cardinals. As they say, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." As for why Dominguez turned down the Draft last June, read THIS.

Big 12 Championship

Big 12 Tournament Championship Game:
Missouri vs. Texas, Today at 1:00 PM CT
Live TV coverage on Fox Sports Network
(Complete list of FSN Network)

Saturday Tournament results:
Baylor 8, Kansas 4
Texas 4, Kansas State 2
Missouri 5, Oklahoma 4
Texas A&M 11, Texas Tech 4

■ The last time MU and UT met was the very first Big 12 series of the year for the Tigers, who were still mired in that early season mega-slump. Mizzou's RPI was ranked 107th

Saturday double-header:
Game 1, MU 2, UT 0
Game 2, MU 0, UT 5

The Austin American-Statesman reports that UT splits doubleheader against Missouri: "Man, you want to talk about a good pitcher, that guy is no joke," Texas first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He spots up on every pitch. You go up there looking for a fastball and you get it, and he still gets it past you. Then that's it. He's good. He's the best we've seen this year."

Game 3, MU 3, UT 4: Tigers bullpen blow late lead against Longhorns


Double plays help Missouri advance in Big 12 tournament (Columbia Missourian)


In the eighth and ninth inning, Missouri turned double plays to escape jams. Buehler entered the game with one out in the ninth inning with the tying run at third base and the go-ahead run at first. Jamieson brought him into face Oklahoma’s J.T. Wise.
Wise hit a sharp ground ball up the middle but shortstop Michael Liberto was there to grab the ball, step on second for the first out and throw to first to end the game.
Tiebreakers become essential at Big 12 tournament (Missourian):
What does the stadium crew do when a game ends early and the next game won’t start for another hour and a half? Show old episodes of Seinfeld, of course. The leftover fans from Missouri's game against Texas Tech on Friday afternoon waiting for the Oklahoma-Texas A&M game to begin laughed in unison for the next hour.

Tigers advance to Big 12 final (Columbia Tribune):
Missouri shortstop Michael Liberto isn’t one to forget mistakes he makes on the
field. It’s learning from them that defines him.

“Trust me, I’ve made enough mistakes in my life, enough game-losing mistakes that cost our team the win,” the junior from Harahan, La., said. “I had a ball go through my legs when I was 13. I still remember that. I know Paul Bertuccini, pitches for LSU, he’d be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember that,’ because he was pitching.”

■ Missouri becomes the first team in Big 12 history to play in the championship game of the baseball and men’s basketball tournaments and football game in a school year.(Kansas City Star)
They also forgot that the soccer and softball teams have played and won their tourney championships this year too. That is five teams in their tourney finals, 3 championships, 1 loss and 1 game to be played. Great year! (Bobk at Tigerboard.com)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Round 3: MU vs. OU @ 4:00

Friday results:

TT 4, MU 2
A&M 15, OU 15

Standings in Poll #2 after Friday's games:

OU 1-1 MU 1-1 A&M 1-1 TT 1-1
Official tournament rules: If teams are tied, head-to-head competition will be used to break the tie. In case the teams are still tied, the highest-seeded team amongst the tied teams advances to the championship.

So, if MU beats OU and TexasA&M beats Tech, MU has the tie-breaker over A&M. If MU loses or if Tech wins, MU is out of the p icture for the championship game.

The Sooners used 6 pitchers last night, each of whom gave up earned runs,

Scorecard for Mizzou-Tech game (compliments of RockMNation.com)

■ Tech rallies late to defeat Missouri (Columbia Tribune):


Berger gave Missouri a quality start, holding the Raiders to one run on three hits through six innings, but Tigers relievers Kelly Fick and Buehler coughed up a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning.

Missouri’s relievers are a combined 7-9 with 10 saves. Three of those saves belong to Scooter Hicks, who has recently moved into the starting rotation.

Missouri bullpen struggles again in loss at big 12 tournament (Columbia Missourian):



Missouri can still win the pool and advance to Sunday’s title game if it wins its game against Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Saturday and if Texas A&M defeats Texas Tech in the final game on Saturday. Missouri coach Tim Jamieson still likes his chances of winning the pool.

“As much as we want to get to Sunday, I still think that is a real possibility,” Jamieson said.

■ The last time the Tigers and Sooners met:

Missouri drops 2 of 3 to Sooners -- 1-2, 4-7, 5-4

From RedRaiders.com: “We [the Sooners] finished a half-game out, so one more win for us any time during the season or Texas losing one more out of their 17 wins, that’s hard to swallow,” Golloway said. “All our guys when they go to study hall or to the weight room they see other players who have won a Big 12 title or a Big 12 championship, and our guys want to be Big 12 champs.”

Friday, May 22, 2009

Round 2: MU vs. Texas Tech, 3:00 PM

■ Thursday in Oklahoma City:
Texas 9, Kansas 3
Kansas State 9, Baylor 4

KSU and UT play Saturday - the winner advances to the championship game from that pool.

Today in OKC:
3:00 PM Mizzou vs. Texas Tech
7:30 PM Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
Live video available for all games at Big12Sports.com

■ What happened the last time the Tigers and Red Raiders met this season?

Johnny Wholeteam sweeps Tech: 18-7, 9-5, 15-2

Maybe it was the field: "Missouri in general is just a tough place for an away team," said Brian Cloud, who will take the mound today for the Red Raiders. "The facilities aren't exactly what you want, the playing surface isn't what you would want it to be, but it's a place where Missouri plays good." (Daily Toreador, 4/24)

■ Sources tell me the Founder and mentor of the infamous Tech Hecklers is at the Big 12 Tournament this week. There was a great article on him this weekend at Lubbock Online: For Chris Snead, heckling more than words:

Rather than simply be another face in the crowd, Snead took fandom to the next level. The result was the birth of an organization called the Tech Hecklers. Hays said Snead and Bill Gustafson, whose son, Mike, played for the Red Raiders, should get the lion's share of credit for not just starting the group but guiding it to success.
. . .
"We bill ourselves as baseball fans, and we're baseball guys and girls," Snead said. "When someone comes into our group, they learn our rules."

Indeed, posted right there on the Heckler Web site are the "10 Commandments of Heckling," taken straight from Snead's book. The mandates include admonitions such as "Thou shalt not use profanity," "Thou shalt not cross the line," and "Thou shalt remember the children."

■ What a shame: AJ "Papi Chulo" Ramos will not likely be pitching against the Tigers, since he pitched game 1 for Tech on Wednesday (and lost). If you truly miss him, you can read about him in Ramos ready to shoulder load for Tech in tourney (redraiders.com), including a video. Or revisit his myspace page, just for laughs.

Kendall at Rivals.com thinks MU could be a dark horse to host a Regional:


If there's an incredibly surprising No. 1 seed or host on Selection Monday, Missouri could be the team if it continues to take care of business in the Big 12 tournament. The Tigers have been red-hot the past few weeks and finished the regular season in impressive fashion. What may hold Missouri back, though, is the fact it is 12-16 against top-50 RPI teams. That is not very good for a team hosting a regional... so I think for now that is an extremely long shot, but you never know.
■ Latest projections for NCAA Regional locations/seedings:

The College Baseball Blog: Missouri a #2 seed at Baton Rouge, LA against #1 LSU, #3 Notre Dame, #4 Mississippi Valley State. An hilariously woeful MVSU came to Simmons Field a few years ago - they must have made huge improvements to be considered a likely conference champ.

Rivals.com: Missouri a #2 seed at Tempe, AZ against #1 Arizona State, #3 Gonzaga and #4 New Mexico. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

SEBaseball.com: Missouri a #2 seed at Oxford, MS against #1 Ole Miss, #3 Middle Tennessee and #4 Army. That one wouldn't be so bad.

■ Also up this weekend: Missouri softball team focused on Super Regional (Columbia Missourian):
With classes over, Allen and the other members of the No. 11 ranked Missouri softball team can focus on how to beat No. 2 UCLA in a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series this weekend in Los Angeles. A win over DePaul on Sunday put the Tigers (48-9) in what is essentially the Sweet 16 of college softball. The winner of the matchup this weekend will advance to the NCCAA College World Series of Softball.