Monday, February 28, 2011

Cal Bears Watching

The College Baseball Oscars Edition (collegebaseballtoday.com)
BEST LOVE STORY: Cal.

Everybody wants to cheer for these boys this year and we all know why. And so far, these dudes haven’t disappointed. This weekend, the Bears were golden for sure, putting absolute clamps on anyone and everyone that dared to wave a bat at them. UC-Berkeley beat No. 17 Coastal Carolina 17-0, North Carolina State 4-0 and Kansas State 8-1. The Bears gave up a grand total of 10 hits all weekend.
Cal, others have golden weekend (perfectgame.org)
It’s tough to ponder that this is the California baseball program that athletic director Sandy Barbour and other university officials want to do away with.

You know, the Cal baseball team that earned wins over Kansas State, Coastal Carolina and N.C. State – all three solid teams – and outscored the trio by a whopping 29-1 over the weekend.

With an incredible showing, the motivated Golden Bears improved their record to 5-1 with important contests against San Diego, San Diego State, Oklahoma and Connecticut coming up this week.
Renda hoping to send Cal baseball out with a bang (San Francisco Examiner)
If this really will be the last year in the 12 decades of baseball at Cal, then the Golden Bears have every intention to go out with a bang.

“We’re going to give them one hell of a last season,” Bears coach David Esquer said.

Mizzou Baseball struggling

Pitchers struggle in Missouri baseball's blow-out loss to Charlotte (ColumbiaMissourian.com)
After three innings, the Missouri baseball team had already allowed 10 runs. In the final two innings, the Tigers allowed another 11. It was not a good day for Missouri pitchers.
Charlotte pounds Missouri, takes series (ninersreport.com)
Sunday's game time was the same as the 4-2 Missouri win in 12 innings as the second game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Charlotte has wins of 20 and 17 runs (vs. Coppin State) and 15 runs (Missouri) in their first eight games. The Niners poured in more runs Sunday than they did in the first three games combined (10).
■ Seven Games, 2-5 record (there are very detailed breakdowns of the stats to date at mutigers.com - more detailed than usual)


  • Total score: Opp. 61-MU 33

  • MU ERA: Starters: 4.67; Bullpen: 12.55; Overall: 7.87

  • Opponents' Batting Average: .339

  • MU Team Batting Average: .243

  • MU errors: 12; Fielding %: .955

  • LOB: 45

  • 37 of the 61 runs given up came in the 6th inning or later

■ Next weekend's opponent, the UIC Flames are 1-5, with a single win against Kentucky

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mizzou Baseball Game Day: Charlotte split DH, 2-3, 4-2

Missouri baseball splits doubleheader against Charlotte (Columbia Missourian)

The Tigers held on thanks to senior reliever Phil McCormick, who pitched the last four innings and allowed one unearned run. Charlotte scored that run in the ninth inning to tie the game because of two Missouri errors.

McCormick earned the win while giving up two hits, two walks and striking out three times. Missouri starter Jeff Scardino pitched eight innings, allowed five hits and one run, and had six strikeouts.
■ From the Cheap Seats:

  • Our pitching was outstanding all day today. Phil McCormick was outstanding in relief. Wow. Great performance from Scardino too. Now let's build on this win. (tigerboard.com)
  • Not easy to go out and win in extra's in game 2 of a DH where you blow the first one late...good job by the Tigers today. (tigerboard.com)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mizzou Baseball Game Day: No broadcast for Game 2 of DH

From @MIZLive on Twitter:

BASE: Listen live to Tex & Hunter call game #1 on KTGR AM/FM. Game #2 today IS NOT being broadcast due to conflict w/women's basketball
@MIZLive is the official update twitter ID for MU Athletics Media Relations. This weekend it is being manned in Charlotte by Chad Moeller, Director of Media Relations.

Trrip Note: Apparently the Zimmer Radio Group cannot find room on their 7 Columbia stations to broadcast men's basketball, women's basketball and both games of a baseball doubleheader all in one afternoon.
Alternatives for keeping up with Game 2:
  • Charlotte has a paid-subscription live feed Video broadcast. There appears to be no Audio-only version available for today's games. As I discovered yesterday, listening to their play-by-play guy is somewhat like listening to a Saturday Night Live parody of a sportscaster, but it's better than nothing. Go to their Schedule Page and click on Niner Network Video (paid subscription).

  • There is a GameTracker available from the mutigers.com schedule page.

  • @MIZLive on Twitter will provide occasional updates

Game Day: Charlotte 5, Mizzou 4

■ From the Cheap Seats:
  • Surprised that the batting order still had Garcia in 3 hole. I like Champ at lead off. Still maybe Schmidt in 3 hole. Garcia moved to 6 or 7. Let him get a hit then see what happens. Opel also move down. I believe in them just let them get on track. They produced well in those spots last year. Garcia still only has 1 K. But how long do you let them go? (tigerboard.com)
  • We must keep in mind that it is 4 games into the year and we have been outside very few times outside of the four games already played.. (tigerboard.com)
  • Champ called for stepping into the HBP . . . (tigerboard.com)
  • I kinda hope NCAA starts calling that more. Each year it seems like there are 10 kids hit a game in Omaha. This is not dodgeball, it's baseball. (tigerboard.com)
  • . . . that Charlotte broadcaster is like an SNL parody. (http://twitter.com/#!/trripleplay)

Missouri bullpen in need of relief (columbiatribune.com)

Of the 29 runs scored against Missouri, 19 came in the sixth inning or later — and even that’s skewed, as the opener was called after six innings and Missouri has yet to pitch the home half of the ninth. Only three of those runs can be charged to a starter, Zack Hardoin, who hit a wall after pitching five shutout innings Sunday.
Trrip Note: The above numbers are for the opening weekend. After last night's loss at Charlotte, of the 34 runs scored against Missouri, 22 came in the sixth inning or later - although 4 of last night's runs were charged to starter Matt Stites.

Baseball falls at Charlotte, 5-4 (mutigers.com)


Mizzou (1-3 overall) held a 4-2 lead after scoring three runs in the fifth inning, but the 49ers, the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champions, tied the game with two in their half of the sixth and got a two-out single in the seventh to take the lead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quotes & Notes: Put me in Coach

■ Having trouble with the KTGR feed? Charlotte has a live feed as well:. Go to their Schedule Page and click on Niner Network Radio.

Trrip Note: Having listened to the Charlotte broadcaster for an inning or two, I recommend sticking with Tex and Hunter unless they just completely go off the air. The "Voice of the 49ers" sounds like an SNL parody.

■ To get your blood pumping:

WoE-Ballgame by Weapons Of Expression

Opinions mixed on BBCOR impact (ncaa.com)
While it is too early to judge the statistics as a whole, there were some glaring differences, especially in two of the Division I conferences that are known for its power numbers. Atlantic Coast Conference teams hit 47 homers in 38 games during the opening weekend of play last year, but blasted just 18 round-trippers in the same amount of games this season. In the Southeastern Conference, teams belted 44 home runs in 36 games last year, but managed to hit just 21 out of the park in 38 contests during this year’s opening weekend.

Centerfield by provine

■ Columbia native Garrison McLagan has voluntarily left the Mizzou baseball team. I'm told he's decided to transfer to D2. @BlumbergOTB on Twitter.com

Game Day: Mizzou vs.Norm

■ At right: Charlotte 49ers mascot, Norm the Niner

Montalbano wins first A-10 Player of the Week (charlotte49ers.com)
Charlotte redshirt sophomore Tony Montalbano (New Orleans, La. / Bossier Parrish Junior College) was named the first Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week of the season after his outstanding debut with the 49ers over the weekend. He shared the weekly award with Richmond's Jacob Mayers.

Montalbano made the most of his collegiate debut, pounding a pair of doubles and driving in six RBI against Coppin State on Friday night. For the weekend, he led the 49ers (4-0) with 10 hits and 10 RBI, including five doubles and was 3-for-4 with the bases loaded. He had a hit, with at least one double in each game, scored at least one run and drove in at least one run in all four seven-inning contests. The New Orleans native finished the week hitting .667 (10-15), adding eight runs scored and a stolen base.
Charlotte 49ers Panning for Gold is a weekly video program onCharlotte49ers.com and on YouTube. In this week's episode, 49ers Baseball is feature. If you can't get it to load here, go to YouTube.
At 1:20 on the video is some good info for anyone going to the games; at 5:35 is a weekend weather forecast (Friday's game looks iffy); and at 7:00 is a 4-minute feature on the baseball team, including a look at a 49er player ready to give MU's Jonah Schmidt some competition - in the "best hair" contest - and a preview of the horrendous and inexplicable (nearly as inexplicable as their 49ers nickname) "Moose Call" tradition. Oh, and A-10 Player of the Week (see below) Tony Montalbano perhaps protests too much about not being too "gimpy" after a strain rounding first in a game last weekend.
video

5 Big 12 teams still unbeaten as 2011 baseball season swings into Week 2 (examiner.com)
As Missouri coach Tim Jamieson put it, “If we’re the 10th best team in the league (according to the preseason vote of conference coaches), it’s a pretty damn good league.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Game Day: MU vs. Charlotte 49ers

MU @ Charlotte 49ers (4-game series)
  • Friday, 2/25, 3:00 PM CT
  • Saturday, 2/26, Double-header 11:00 AM / 2:30 PM CT
  • Sunday, 2/27, 11:00 AM CT
Weekend mound excellence(collegebaseballtoday.com)
The 49ers end their weekend with an 11-0 win over Coppin State. For the four-game series, Cornbread Maxwell U. outscored the Eagles 61-1. They held CSU to a .132 team average along the way. Yaye!
Trrip Note: According to Boyd's World, in 2010 Coppin State's final RPI was ranked 294th out of 300 D-1 baseball schools.

■ Get the daily scoop on 49ers baseball from Associate Head Coach Brandon Hall on Twitter: @49erHall

Niner Baseball 2011 (ninerpride.net)
We should have a sick, and I mean SICK pitching staff. All 3 starters are back Rothlin, Pilkinton, and Roberts + you ad Yermal back and Barnette!!! I spoke with both Hibbs and Hall in Oct and I watched a practice, and the pitching looks legit barring injuries or suprises (see basketball haha). Yermal (SR- who is legit when healthy), Barnette (highest MLB pick ever at Char), Roberts (stud rookie last yr), and Bryan Hamilton is a fine relief guy. And Wes Hatley put up some solid relief stats last yr for a frosh.
Click the link to read more -- A good [albeit biased] assessment of the 2011 Charlotte 49ers

Highlight video from Charlotte's series against Coppin State:


video


The nickname "49ers" derives from the fact that the university's predecessor—Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina (CCUNC - established in 1946) was saved from being shut down by the state in 1949 by Bonnie Cone, when the Charlotte Center became Charlotte College. Due to this "49er spirit" that Cone felt embodied the University, referring to the settlers that endured much hardships in traveling across the United States to seek fortune in the California Gold Rush, students of the fledgling UNC Charlotte chose "49ers" as the school's mascot. The fact that the site of the U.S.'s first major gold discovery, Reids Gold Mine, is located nearby may also be a contributing factor to the nickname. The fact that the University's Main Campus front entrance is located on North Carolina Highway 49 is pure coincidence.

Prior to the "49ers" moniker, the athletic teams were known as the "Owls" due to CCUNC's beginnings as a night school.
Charlotte picked to repeat as Atlantic 10 conference champion (charlotte49ers.com)
Charlotte looks to repeat as Atlantic 10 regular season champions for the second time since joining the league during the 2006 campaign. The 49ers last took back-to-back league titles in 2007 and 2008. Charlotte has won three titles in the last five seasons as a member of the league, capturing 96 conference victories -- 10 more than the next highest team total during that span. Veteran head coach Loren Hibbs returns 21 letterwinners, including six position starters and 11 pitchers, from a team that went 39-17 overall last season. On the mound, Charlotte also returns all three weekend starters from a year ago, with a combined 16-8 season record, along with redshirt senior relief pitcher Bryan Hamilton, who recently garnered Preseason All-America status.
Niners set to defend A-10 (ninersonline.com)
The Niners enter this season without their top two power hitters from last year. With the three starting pitchers returning for 2011, the Niners will be more pitching and defensive-oriented this year, which will favor the Niners as the National Collegiate Athletic Association modified the rules on bat composition this year. The new bats will suppress power-hitting offenses. Yet, it serves as an advantage to the Niners and their playing style.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 MU Baseball Roster

■ The official 2011 Baseball Roster is now available at mutigers.com.

Keith Weber, 1942-2011

■ We're saddened to learn of passing of #Mizzou Hall of Fame pitcher Keith Weber. Was part of a '64 staff that set NCAA record-low 0.65 ERA. (@mutigers.com on twitter)

Anthony Keith Weber (Kansas City Star obituary)
Anthony Keith Weber, age 68, Mission Hills, Kan,, passed away Friday, February 18, 2011, at Saint Luke's Hospital in Houston, Texas. After four years of fighting the strongest battle imaginable against kidney cancer, Keith left this world in peace surrounded by his family. Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at Stine and McClure Chapel, 3235 Gilham Plaza, Kansas City, Mo. The funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at Country Club Christian Church, 6101 Ward Parkway, Kansas City. A reception will immediately follow the service at the Kansas City Country Club.
. . .
Keith attended the University of Missouri where he received a bachelor's degree in economics and the degree of Juris Doctorate. While in college, he excelled in football and baseball. Keith still holds the lowest career ERA record in the NCAA Division I. He was the team Captain and received all-American honors. He was one of three pitchers chosen in the U.S. to pitch for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1964 Olympics held in Japan. Later, he signed with the New York Mets. He was also a quarterback for the Missouri Tigers. Keith's Senior year he was selected into Mystical Seven and The QEBH society, two honorary societies based on leadership, academics and contribution to the University: Keith served as assistant varsity football coach for four years under Dan Devine while attending law school at Missouri University. Later in 1998, Keith was inducted to the Intercollegiate Athletics MU Hall of Fame.
. . .
Throughout his life, Keith loved sports, especially golf. He made time to play regularly enjoying the outdoors and the fellowship of his friends, but most of all he loved spending time with his family. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He will be incredibly missed but never forgotten. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Keith Weber to Saint Luke's Hospital Foundation for Oncology Research, 4225 Baltimore Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64111. Share a memory, sign an online guestbook, or express your condolences at www.overlandparkchapel.com D
Keith Weber's bio at the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame page:
May well be the greatest pitcher in Missouri's long and glorious baseball history. In 1964, he set the MU record for earned run average (0.56), won 11 games and struck out 90 batters as the Tigers went 26-5-1 and advanced to the College World Series. Those 11 wins are still tied for the school record, and the strikeout total stood as the MU record for 26 years. His ERA contributed to a team figure of 0.65 that still stands as the NCAA record, and in this era of the aluminum bat, will probably never be broken. Weber, from Jefferson City, was all-Big Eight, all-District V and all-America in 1964, and signed with the New York Mets. He was also a quarterback in football, but injuries ended his career before he competed on the varsity level. Weber now lives in Kansas City.

MU in the Minors

Crow learns from struggles in Royals bid (mlb.com)
"I was having trouble throwing strikes and being consistent," Crow said. "I think I was trying to overthrow last year, so I'm just trying to stay within myself, throw strikes and keep the ball down and I should be OK."

The basic problem, according to Northwest Arkansas pitching coach Larry Carter, was too many walks to innings pitched (59 in 119 1/3 innings for the Naturals). But Crow did his best to correct the problem.

"He's a great kid, probably one of the hardest-working individuals I've ever been around," Carter said. "He goes at it as hard as he can as long as he can. I don't know if he ever wears down."

Audio interview with Tyler Clark (tagsgf.com)

Brock Bond headed to Spring Training (patch.com)
Former LHS sports stand-out Brock Bond is heading to spring training this week. Fans will remember he played baseball for Lindbergh and was the quarterback for the football team. “He’s with the San Francisco Giants organization and played in Triple A last summer,” said Evan Pratte, director of baseball operations at the University of Missouri where Bond played college ball. Last year, Bond was a mid-season All-Star.

“I’m excited to get started this year,” Bond said in a phone interview from Spring Training in Scottsdale, AZ. “Last year [in Spring Training] I got to play in a major league game and I’m hoping I’ll get to do that this year.” Bond finished his degree at Mizzou this year, during baseball's off-season.
Rockies announce non-roster invitations (mlb.com)
Friedrich and right-hander Andrew Johnston are among homegrown players who haven't appeared in a Major League game and are attending big league camp for the second time.
MiLB roster breakdown (AZSnakepit.com)
Evan Frey - .286/.373/.356 line, .348 wOBA, 104 wOBA+ for Mobile - Frey's repeat campaign at Mobile was an incredible disappointment, as his wOBA+ jumped just one point from his 2009 mark of 103. Ollie Linton deserves a promotion to Reno more so than Frey does after their respective 2011 seasons, so Frey could find himself spending a third straight season with the BayBears


■ Still no 2011 Roster posted at mutigers.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mizzou starts season 1-2

■ from Tigerboard.com:

  • Baseball and Softball both off to 1-2 starts...Not too surprised about baseball, but didn't see that coming for the ladies. Ouch.

  • Very encouraged about our starting pitching from the weekend. I can certainly see why Stites and Zastryzny were picked for Fri and Sat. Stites did not seem to be real overpowering (high 80's?) but looked fine. And Rob Z has a very lively fastball and a nice breaking slider. Had trouble controlling his off speed pitch but good grief, he's a freshman pitching his first game. And Hardoin did not give up a hit til the 4th or 5th inning.
Middle innings sink Tigers, 11-3 (mutigers.com)
North Carolina scored 11 runs in a key three-inning stretch Sunday afternoon to register an 11-3 win over Mizzou in the Tigers' final game of the USC Tournament at Dedeaux Field.

North Carolina (collegebaseballtoday.com)
As hinted at in yesterday’s entry, this may not be a rebuilding season at all in Chapel Hill. These guys appear to be for REAL, man. The Heels finished up their West coast trek with two more wins today – an 11-3 decision over Missouri and an 11-7 win at USC – to go unbeaten in four games against four pretty good teams. The biggest win was on Saturday as they took down highly-regarded Cal State Fullerton 4-3 in 11 innings at Goodwin Field. Strong work Heels

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MU Athletics

MU teams thriving in Big 12 despite fewer financial resources (columbiatribune.com)
While MU sponsors 20 athletic programs — third-most in the Big 12 — its total expenses last year were eighth in the conference at $53.2 million. In contrast, Texas spent a league-high $114 million on its 19 programs last year.
. . .
MU was last in eight sports, including baseball, women’s basketball and wrestling.

Game Day: MU vs. North Carolina Tarheels, Noon (CT)

USC earns 9-3 win over Missouri in season opener (usctrojans.com)
Alex Sherrod went 3-for-5 with a double as the USC Trojans opened the 2011 season with a 9-3 win over the Missouri Tigers at Dedeaux Field. Mike Greco and Garret Houts had two hits and two RBI each as the Trojans banged out 14 hits in their first USC Tournament action, giving USC interim head coach Frank Cruz his first win on the year.
USC bats overpower Mizzou, 9-3 (mutigers.com)
USC pounded out 14 hits against six Missouri pitchers en route to a 9-3 win Saturday afternoon at the USC Tournament at Dedeaux Field.

USC took an early lead in the second with three straight hits off freshman lefty Rob Zastryzny (Corpus Christi, Texas / Calallen), and tallied a key two-run Garret Houts single to jump to a 3-0 advantage. The Trojans added two unearned runs in the fourth on a two-out booted grounder to third and a dropped fly to center. Zastryzny (0-1) took the loss for the Tigers (1-1).

North Carolina Tarheels

Tarheel baseball team hopes to grow (newsobserver.com)
And while this year's incoming class is large, Fox is hoping that last year's incoming group, now with a year under its belt, can build on the experience of finding its stride late.

"It was important," Fox said. "You can't coach experience. You can't teach it. So all these freshmen [now sophomores] know what it's like to play in a regional, ... what it's like to play on the road, what it's like to play at Miami, trying to scratch out a win on Sunday and not losing games in the end."

ACC baseball teams strive for gains as new season starts (thetimesnews.com)
Fox said the Tar Heels could be strong defensively and he likes the overall team speed he can send out to cover ground.

But overall, there’s the sense that the Tar Heels can’t take anything for granted.

“We’re motivated because we want to get back to Omaha,” said junior Levi Michael, who has converted from second baseman to shortstop.
Baseball Media Day Interviews (insidecarolina.com)
Will the depth of the pitching staff make up for the lack of a definite ace on the staff?

“We certainly hope so. I think what it does is it gives you a lot more options and a mixture. It will make sure if nothing else that you will run a fresh guy out there every time that you need to put him on the mound. Not someone that is tired, not somebody who threw 50 pitches two days ago and tells you that he is ready to go but physically he is not. So we like the fact that we have a good mixture. We have some lefties but we have some different types of lefties. We have a power lefty and a funky lefty; we have this and we have that.
UNC Tarheels Baseball Media Guide (pdf)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Game Day: Tournament Tossed Salad

Baseball opener rescheduled (usctrojans.com)

USC baseball's opening night will now be an opening day doubleheader Saturday at 10 a.m. at Dedeaux Field against Missouri.

Here is the new schedule of events for the USC Tournament:

Saturday
USC vs. Missouri at 10 a.m. (ET)
• USC vs. Cal Poly at 2 p.m.

Sunday
Missouri vs. UNC at 10 a.m. (ET)
• USC vs. North Carolina at 2 p.m.

Tigers win baseball opener (columbiatribune.com)

Brannon Champagne scored the winning run on a wild pitch after reaching base on an RBI single. Missouri had five hits in the inning. Three of the runs were unearned after Jonah Schmidt reached base on two-out error.

Conner Mach and Blake Brown went 2 for 3 with two RBI, Jesse Santo was 2 for 3 with one RBI and Champagne was 2 for 4 with two RBI.
Missouri baseball opens season with odd win (missourinet.com)

A bizarre sixth inning closed out Mizzou’s season-opening baseball game Friday afternoon at the USC Tournament at Dedeaux Field, as the Tigers plated six runs in between two rain delays for a 10-9, six-inning win over Cal Poly.

Play was delayed for 54 minutes by rain in the middle of the sixth and Mizzou down 9-4, and halted again following a freak accident in the Cal Poly dugout involving an errant bat that struck a Mustang. Rain resumed during that delay, and the game would eventually be called due to the rain.
Cal Poly baseball player hit in head with flying bat on opening day (ksby.com)

The Mustangs lost a pair of one run games in the USC Tournament and a freshman suffered a concussion in a freak accident. In Cal Poly's second game of the day, freshman infielder Jordan Brower was hit on the head by a flying bat while standing in the dugout during a rain delay. He suffered a concussion.
■ And a Tip of the Cap to Hunter Mense, who, in his first game as Tex Little's wingman in the booth, sounded like a seasoned pro. #himinliberty is indeed a "trending topic"

"So proud of the Tigers today...coming back from a 5 run deficit for a win says a lot about the character of a team. #oneandoh"

MU in the Minors

Minnesota Twins prospect humble after rise (news-press.com)
Gibson then finished the season with three starts, no decisions and a 1.72 ERA for Triple-A Rochester.

"He's been very level-headed and business-like," said Eric Rasmussen, Minnesota's minor league pitching coordinator. "He's doing what he's supposed to be doing. He's progressing real nice.

"His biggest strength is he pitches downstairs real well. He keeps the ball down. His fastball is smooth. He's a pretty good pitcher."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Make up your minds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

from @MIZLive on Twitter: CORRECTION: Game has been called. wins, 10-9. Tigers to play USC at Noon CT. Story update on mutigers.com shortly.

Mizzou-Cal Poly game suspended

Mizzou/Cal Poly suspended (mutigers.com)
Mizzou's season-opening baseball game has been suspended by a pair of rain delays in the top of the 7th inning, in Mizzou's first game of the USC Tournament at Dedeaux Field. The first stoppage of 54 minutes came in the middle of the sixth, and play was halted again at 4:45 p.m. PT following a freak accident in the Cal Poly dugout. Rain resumed during that delay, and play was suspended for the day at 5:45 p.m. PT.

Play will resume at the conclusion of a scheduled 10 a.m. PT (Noon CT) game between Mizzou and host USC. At that point, the Tigers will take the field in the top of the 7th with a 10-9 lead.

Rain Delay


6:23 - GAME ON !! CAlPoly reliever warming up on the mound, Tigers up to bat, bottom of the 6th.

6:12 - from @MIZLive on Twitter: The tarp is off!

5:53 -- from @MIZLive on Twitter: The teams were told that there is a window around 6;30 pm CT that will give us time to get the game in

5:45 -- KTGR.com will return to the air at 6:20 PM (CT) to update the status of the game.

5:32 -- Mizzou-Cal Poly is in a rain delay in the bottom of the 6th inning. The score is currently Cal Poly 9, Mizzou 4.

Tex Little says, though, that if the game is declared a Rain-out, the score will actually revert to what it was at the conclusion of the last completed inning. At the end of 5 innings, the score was a 4-4 tie

Game 1 Line-up

  1. CF Brannon Champagne
  2. DH Jonah Schmidt
  3. SS Eric Garcia
  4. 2B Conner Mach
  5. 1B Dane Opel
  6. C Andreas Plackis
  7. LF Ryan Gebhart
  8. RF Blake Brown
  9. 3B Jesse Santo
Junior JuCo transfer Matt Stites gets the start vs. Cal Poly.

MU is designated as the Home team for this game.

Game Day: MU-Cal Poly to start early

The game will be starting early - No aiming for 3:30 PM (CT).

The KTGR pregame show is already on the air.

North Carolina beat Cal Poly 2-1 in the tourney opener. Now the Mustangs turn around and play MU.

Opening Day


"The good time is approaching.

The season is at hand

When the merry click of the two-base lick

Will be heard throughout the land.

The frost still lingers on the earth, and

Budless are the trees,

But the merry ring of the voice of spring

Is borne on every breeze."

The Sporting News, 1886

Today's Schedule
(Confirmed @ 10:30 AM Friday with USC Baseball Office)
  • 4 PM CT MU vs. Cal Poly

  • 8 PM CT MU vs. USC

Game Day: MU vs. Cal Poly Mustangs & USC Trojans

From @MUTigers on Twitter.com:
And yet another schedule change: game time now @ 4 CST vs. #CalPoly & @ 8 CST vs. #USC. Just switched time for #CalPoly game.

[I'm thinking I'll tune in at noon, just in case they changed it back.]

Friday:
• Cal Poly vs. Missouri - 4PM CT
• USC vs. Missouri - 8 PM CT

Sunday:
• North Carolina vs. MU - Noon CT

A Mizzou fan in L.A. has given me contact information to the USC Baseball office, so I will try to keep up with changes as they hapen and will post here, on Twitter and on Tigerboard.com. Also, check with @MUTigers on Twitter for updates (his Twitter updates also appear in the left-hand column here at SimmonsField.com.

Directions, parking and the inside scoop from a Tiger fan in LA (tigerboard.com)


Cal Poly Mustangs

Cal Poly to open practice Friday in preparation for 2011 season opener (boxscorenews.com)
Coach Larry Lee and his staff will be working with five returning position starters and nine veteran pitchers when practice gets underway at 1:30 p.m. in Baggett Stadium.
. . .
"We need to have the right pitchers earn their Saturday and Sunday starting roles," said Lee, "to allow us to keep the pitchers more suited to the bullpen in the bullpen. We are more healthy at this point. This is the first year in the last three or four years that we've been relatively healthy on the mound."

Cal Poly fell 17 games below the .500 mark at 10-27 in the first 10 weeks of the 2010 season, but finished 23-32, posting a 13-5 mark in May and climbing from last place to fifth in the Big West Conference.

Cal Poly, which averaged just 6.0 runs and 9.7 hits in its first 36 games of the season, produced 9.8 runs and 13.5 hits a contest in the last five weeks of the year and hope to build on that momentum in 2011.

CollegeBaseballToday predicts the Mustangs will finish 7th in the Big West Conference this season
The pitching staff had a conference-worst 6.75 ERA and will miss weekend starters Matt Leonard (the only starter with a sub-5.00 ERA) and D.J. Mauldin (team-best five wins). The defense was also a sticking point, finishing with a second-to-last .965 fielding percentage. So returning infielders 3B Evan Busby (.286), SS J.J. Thompson (.277) and 2B Matt Jensen (.270) will need to play more solid ball this year


Southern California Trojans


■ Don't see #USC making a regional this year. Austin Wood is a nice start on the mound, but talent overall is an issue vs. big teams. (@KendallRogersYS)

Baseball America lists three Trojans in Top 100 College Prospects list (usctrojans.com)


Baseball America released its list Monday for the top 100 college prospects in the nation with three USC players gaining recognition. Right-hander Austin Wood was rated at No. 26 for the Trojans with first baseman Ricky Oropesa at No. 33 and right-hander Andrew Triggs at No. 100.

USC is one of eight teams to have posted three players on the list as the Trojans are tied in the Pac-10 Conference for the most players on the list along with Arizona State and California.

Wood was the highest draft pick (4th round, Tampa Bay) in the 2010 draft among Pac-10 Conference players who will be attending college after going 3-0 this summer in the famed Cape Cod Baseball League with a 0.74 ERA.

Oropesa earned 2011 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America second team honors as announced by Collegiate Baseball. He led the Trojans in the triple crown categories last season with a .353 batting average, 20 home runs and 67 RBI. He also hit 22 doubles, recorded a .711 slugging percentage and led the team with seven stolen bases as he earned Baseball America All-America second team honors.

Triggs was drafted last summer by the Cleveland Indians in the 24th round, but elected to return to school. He was 2-7 last season for the Trojans with a 3.95 ERA. In 70 2/3 innings, he allowed 71 hits with 21 walks, 62 strikeouts and a .257 opponents' batting average.
Chad Krueter fired (conquestchronicles.com, August 9, 2010)


Yes, it's about time. Granted, it's about two years too late, but at the very least, the man responsible for turning the USC baseball program into a perennial Pac-10 bottom dweller is no longer on the school's payroll.

Since Mike Gillespie, who led the Trojans to a College World Series title in 1998, was forced to retire by then-athletic director Mike Garrett following the 2006 season, Kreuter has gone on to compile a 111-117 record as manager at USC - a far cry from the days when the Trojans had arguably the best program in the country under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux.

And to make matters even worse for Kreuter, his predecessor, Gillespie, has led the Anteaters to three consecutive NCAA regionals and even one super regional in just three years as the manager at UC Irvine.

But in all likelihood, it was the 2010 season that proved to be most damaging to Kreuter's coaching career. Despite featuring a competent collection of pitchers and one of the top power hitters nationally in sophomore first baseman Ricky Oropesa, the Trojans finished last in the Pac-10, compiling a mark of 7-20 in conference play. In short, the team that had one of the fielding percentages in the country and seemed incompetent at fielding the most routine double plays, wasn't very good. In fact, they were awful.
CollegeBaseballToday picks the Trojans to finish 9th in the PAC 10 in 2011


There has been almost zero power beyond Oropesa the last few years, so some young talents will have to step in right away and become major players. There was also nearly no threats on the basepaths as USC stole just 34 bases last season.

2011 Bruin Baseball Preview (bruinnation.com)


Taking the number nine spot is the team that is historically the most successful program in the Pac-10, but has been dreadful for several years now and is in a state of flux still. USC may have the history, but they don't have a single thing to be proud of on the field lately. Four years of Chad Kreuter as head coach led to zero seasons in which the Trojans were postseason eligible, let alone in the postseason, and culminated in a last place finish in 2010. Kreuter was given the heave ho this offseason, but the move came so late in the offseason that instead of hiring a new coach to right the ship, the Trojans had to promote former LMU coach from assistant coach to interim head coach.

In an offseason in which the screams of joy that Kreuter was fired overshadowed the fact that the timing was so bad that the program is just hanging around, the high point of offseason was undoubtedly Austin Wood passing on signing with the Tampa Rays and going to USC. A former Florida St. pitcher who spent last season at a JC, Wood had a 0.58 ERA in the Cape Cod League this summer and gives the Trojans a pitcher they can lean on. They have a hitter they can lean on too in Ricky Oropesa who has insane power and proved it in hitting 20 home runs and driving in 67 runs a year ago. After that there isn't a ton to get Trojan fans excited, although there are a couple of promising freshman. Even at the end of the season, getting rid of Kreuter may still be the highlight of the campaign.
USC Tournament Media Release (usctrojans.com)


  • RHP Matt Stites vs. RHP Andrew Triggs (2-7, 3.95 ERA in ‘10)
  • Junior right-hander Andrew Triggs (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy) went 2-7 last season with a 3.95 ERA (70 2/3 IP, 71 H, 31 ER, 21 BB, 62 SO, .257 OBA) and earned Pac-10 Conference honorable mention. He was drafted in the 2010 major league draft in the 24th round by the Cleveland Indians. . . Triggs had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow prior to his senior season of high school, but bounced back after two years on the sidelines.
Glenn, Trojans baseball team look to tap into potential (DailyTrojan.com)

“Last year I was just so worried about not getting cut and then working to get playing time, that at times I stopped being myself out there,” Glenn said. “This year coach Cruz has told me that he wants me to be more aggressive. And I like that, because the one thing I pride myself most on is my speed.”

And if there is one glaring issue that has plagued USC throughout its five-year run of futility, it is base running.

Last year, the Trojans not only finished last in the Pac-10 with 34 stolen bases, but their top base-stealer, junior first baseman Ricky Oropesa, only swiped seven bags.

As a result, Glenn, who has the speed needed to swipe bags on a consistent basis, is looking to help the Trojans improve their non-existent running game.

Baseball Home Opener - iPad and iTunes Giveaway (WeAreSC.com)

Dear Supporters of SC Baseball:

On February 18th, SC Vs. Missouri, the objective is a home sellout crowd !!

To help give us all something extra to promote this opening game we are giving away a single ipad at the bottom of the 8th inning and itunes gift certificates ($50.00 each) at the bottom of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings.

Anyone who pays to enter or any SC student who enters (at no charge) will receive a ticket. The ticket stub must be submitted at the main gate (the two gents who collect regular tickets or check student ids) by the bottom of the 2nd inning. The user keeps the other half for the drawings.

Since everyone will be entered (get a ticket at the main box office if you do not have one) use this as a catalyst to "talk up the game" - try and bring 5 to 10 headcount with you.

Spread the word - see you at the game, Feb 18th !!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quotes & Notes: It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame

They're not kids anymore (ColumbiaTribune.com)
All are sophomores who look a lot like veterans.

“It started in the fall,” said Coach Tim Jamieson, whose Tigers are scheduled to open the 2011 season tomorrow against Cal Poly at the USC Tournament. “It’s been both maturity and it’s been their understanding of how to play the game at this level, some of the adjustments that they’ve had to make. … All of them have made significant growth.”
Jamieson looking to lead Missouri back to NCAA Tourney (collegebaseballdaily.com)
Dane Opel and Eric Garcia are two sophomores that really had pretty good freshman seasons last year,” explains Jamieson. “The difference between this year and last year is that there is a more significant line between the guys that are going to contribute and the guys that are going to be role players. Last year was really muddy. So I think we’re going to be playing 10, 11, 12 guys positionally and we’re going to be using as many pitchers as we have to, to win.”

If Opel and Schmidt can lead a formidable middle-of-the-order, with some help from the pitching staff, Missouri may be able to prove the preseason pollsters wrong.
■ A good rallying cry for all fans of college baseball is sounded at California! Wake up! Go see a college ballgame!! (roundingthird.blogspot.com)
And this year, more than ever, there's more to cheer for. Gone are the annoying Ping sounds of those minus three bats, one of the biggest criticisms of the game....While College baseball still uses metal, it's the dialed down BBCOR version this year and the crack of the bat is more natural...Look for exciting pitchers duals, small ball and of course the occasional bomb...this time hit by a true, square on the barrel power hitter, not a diminutive second baseman.

This is exciting college sports at its best!!! And this year, more than ever, Californians need to support college baseball.

The recent bungling of the Cal Athletic Department and it's horrible decision to cut baseball has sent an ominous message to the rest of the state...No non revenue generating sport is safe. And, unless we can make our sports self sustaining, they too can get axed.

Read the rest here


video

Quotes & Notes: California Dreamin'

SCHEDULE CHANGE: Due to impending rain, the USC Tournament schedule has changed. MU's schedule is as follows:
  • Friday, Noon (CT): MU vs. Cal Poly
  • Friday, 8 PM (CT): MU vs. Southern Cal
  • Sunday, Noon (CT): MU vs. North Carolina
There was some confusion as to the specifics of the adjusted schedule because the USC press release disagrees with the edited USC schedule. But the USC schedule agrees with both mutigers.com and gopoly.com.

Looking for redemption (PowerMizzou.com)
The new edition of the Tigers will be closer than last year's, according to Brown.

"We hang out a lot more off the field," Brown said. "You see us all together more often. On the field, the communication is better. We have a good feel for each other and what we can do with our abilities."

Missouri's baseball, softball teams open seasons in California on Friday (Columbia Misosurian)
Even with his pitching lineup set for the team’s first weekend of play, Jamieson said it will be interesting to see how his pitching staff, which consists of mostly underclassmen, will perform this year.

“We know physically they’re capable and, with what they’ve done in practice, we think they’re good competitors and ready,” Jamieson said. “But nobody has an ERA right now and nobody has a loss attached to their name."

Garcia, Mach bring power to middle infield (KBIAsportsextra)
“It’s been a while since we potentially had that much offensive production from those [positions],” said coach Tim Jamieson. “Usually we’ve had one guy at the top of the lineup and one guy at the bottom of the lineup, but with those two guys you’re talking about the 3-4 hole hitters.”

ESPN.com appears to be dedicating more attention to college baseball this season
• Video: New Bats for College Baseball

Seasons Greetings: Quick season preview by Eric Sorenson of CollegeBaseballToday.com
• UCLA earns top seed in early bracketology: by Jeremy Mills of D1Baseball.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Major schedule change for this weekend

■ According to USCTrojans.com, there has been a major schedule change for the USC Tournament this weekend. The revised schedule shows MU only playing 2 games, but @MUBaseball on Twitter and mutigers.com say the Tigers still will play UNC on Sunday at Noon CST, after playing Cal Poly at Noon Friday and then USC at 8PM Friday. The revised schedule at gopoly.com agrees with the MU published revised schedule.

The USC published schedule (all times Pacific time):
Due to impending rain in the Los Angeles area this weekend, the times for the USC Baseball Tournament at Dedeaux Field have been revised. All times are subject to change and fans are advised to go online at usctrojans.com for any changes in this weekend's schedule:

Friday (February 18)
Cal Poly vs. Missouri - 10 a.m.
Cal Poly vs. North Carolina - 2 p.m.
USC vs. Missouri - 6 p.m.

Saturday (February 19)
USC vs. North Carolina - 7 p.m.

Sunday (February 20)
Cal Poly vs. North Carolina - 10 a.m.
USC vs. Cal Poly - 3 p.m.

If Saturday's game is rained out, USC and North Carolina would play at 3 p.m. on Sunday with USC and Cal Poly then playing at 7 p.m.


Our previously scheduled preview of the season opening road trips has been delayed until we know who we're playing.

New College Baseball Message Board

Kendall Rogers, formerly of Rivals.com, has landed on all fours at PerfectGame.org. this afternoon they went live with their new College Baseball message boards. I encourage you to check it out.

Quotes & Notes: Sticks & Stones

MU's Anderson close to being fully recovered (columbiatribune.com)
Anderson spent most of the 2010 season as the Tigers’ No. 2 starter behind Nick Tepesch. But when Missouri opens the 2011 season Friday against the host school at the USC Tournament in Los Angeles, Anderson won’t be taking the mound. As he rebuilds his arm strength to the levels that saw him named the 2009 Colorado high school pitcher of the year by The Denver Post, Anderson will be donning a first baseman’s mitt.
Big 12 coaches pick Mizzou Baseball to finish last in conference (kbiasportsextra.com)
“A lot of people actually picked us dead last in the Big 12,” said outfielder Blake Brown Monday, before the Big 12 coaches’ poll was released. “That’s up on our video board in our locker room as motivation to keep working hard.”

■ Mizzou is not on the CollegeBaseball360.com Preseason Composite National Rankings, in case you care.

■ Every college baseball website out there loves to do NCAA Regional Projections, even before the first pitch has been thrown. If you're interested in chasing after the wind, both BaseballAmerica and CollegeBaseballDaily have their projections posted. And no, MU isn't on those either.

■ Of somewhat more interest is Strike Three: Preseason Preview Edition on BaseballAmerica.com. The Tigers? No.

2011 MU Baseball Preview: Position Players

In Part 3 of our 2011 season preview, we'll take a look at the position players. Note: This preview is being posted prior to the final cuts are made to the roster. About 40 players began winter practice, and the playing season roster limit is 35.

After a 2010 freshman class that featured an abundance of position players, the Tigers have enough returning players to fill every starting job on the squad. That doesn't mean, though, that the veterans will just get the jobs handed to them. There are some new players eager to compete for playing time as well.

On KFRU's The Closers last week, Tim Jamieson said about the lineup, "you may not see anybody new", because there were so many freshmen who got significant playing time in 2010.

MU lost its two leading home run hitters and RBI producers (Senne and Nicholas). The returning players accounted for a total of 24 homers, led by Jonah Schmidt with 7 and Eric Garcia (6). Schmidt (33) and Garcia (31) are joined by Dane Opel (30) as the returning RBI leaders.

But that's pretty much true every year. The 2010 team had lost its HR leader (Folgia) and its RBI leaders.

The returning players are just going to do what the veterans on any college team are expected to do each year - step it up a notch and become the new leaders.

CATCHER

Senior Ryan Ampleman will almost certainly be given the opportunity to be the starting catcher at the beginning of the season. As one of four seniors among the position players, he will be a team leader, as he was in 2010, regardless of whether he nails down the starting job, if only because of his bulldog determination.

Consistent hitting will be the determining factor on whether Amp plays the bulk of the games behind the plate or whether he ends up sharing those duties with others. Standing in the wings, eager to prove their capabilities are junior Ben Turner, sophomores Andreas Plackis and Scott Sommerfeld, and freshman Drew Carlile. Turner is likely to get the most playing opportunities to compete for the job. Plackis will likely see his name on the roster again this year as DH on plenty of days (along with senior Jonah Schmidt). Sommerfeld is the lesser known returning player in the mix. He and Carlile (who batted .451 as a HS senior) will have to take any opportunity they are given offensively to force their way into serious consideration.

First Base

1B is a tossup in 2011, the position having been vacated by the departure of Aaron Senne. Sophomore Eric Anderson - normally a pitcher - saw some playing time at 1B in the Fall. If he has not fully recovered from his off-season surgery to be put into the regular pitching rotation at the start of the season, he may see several games at 1B.

Also recovering from injury is sophomore OF Dane Opel, who could also see some starts at 1B while his arm works back up to outfield strength.

Also in the running is junior Garrison McLagan, who has shown flashes of power in his limited at-bats over the past two seasons. If he can show consistency offensively, he could earn the regular first baseman job for the Tigers. And sophomore Scott Sommerfeld could also force his way into consideration. On any team, at any level, the first baseman is expected to handle the defensive chores adequately, but is counted on to produce at the plate.

2B/3B/ SS

Sophomore Eric Garcia appears to be the heir apparent at the shortstop position. His slick fielding skills, combined with a more matured and consistent approach at the plate, promise to make him one of the Tiger team leaders in 2011.

Junior Conner Mach had a good summer and a good fall, earning himself a regular spot as a starter going into this season. With Garcia a likely fixture at SS, Mach looks to be slated for the 2B spot.

Senior Jesse Santo has the glove to compete for all three positions, but will likely compete with senior Andrew Thigpen for the starting job at 3B. Santo will also be a likely late-inning sub at SS whenever Garcia comes in as a closer.

If any of those four veterans struggle offensively or defensively, there will be pressure from freshmen Dillon Everett and CJ Jarvis (both high school shortstops), plus freshman pitcher Myles Smith, who played SS in high school when he wasn't on the mound.

Whoever has the best bat-and-glove combo will be hard to keep out of the lineup.

Outfield

There's not a single candidate for the 2011 MU outfield that doesn't have a question mark riding on his shoulder going into this season.

2011 should be Junior Ryan Gebhart's year. He's been on the scouts' radar for years. A can't-miss prospect. Unfortunately, injuries have limited his playing time during his first two years at Mizzou. He came on strong when he finally got to play in 2010. In 2011, Gebhart is at the front of a long line of candidates for the starting outfield positions, and he'll finally have the opportunity to show what he can do.

Sophomore Dane Opel is a "sure bet" as well - if and when he recovers from his off-season surgery.

Sophomore Blake Brown began 2010 pegged as a serious candidate for a starting position, but inconsistent offense limited his playing time. Sophomore Brannon Champagne was another high prospect, but he suffered through an injury-limited season and is still working his way back to full strength. Junior Russell LaFleur was also limited by inconsistent offense. Each of these players has what it takes to fulfill their potential, but they will have to prove themselves on the field.

Senior Jonah Schmidt is always fun to watch because he plays the game with such joy. His defensive abilities, though, have always been a little suspect, and his impressive power at the plate has not always been accompanied by discipline at the plate. If he fails to be more consistent in those areas, he'll likely still see his name frequently on the lineup card as the DH. Word is Jonah is also recovering from injury.

Sophomore Jeff Lusardi was with the team last year, but was forced to ride the pine the entire year, due to NCAA transfer rules (he spent a year at Arizona State, getting nowhere, and decided it was worth the year on the bench to have a shot at getting playing time back at Mizzou). Because no one has had a chance to see him play at the college level in the two years since he left Blue Springs South HS, the jury is still out on whether Lusardi has the chops to grab a spot in a crowded outfield. He is also listed as an infielder, so he may also compete there.

Freshman Sal Belfonte, a recruited walk-on from KC, showed some flashes of impressive skills in fall ball. After a glut of freshman outfielders last year, Sal has that distinction all to his own in 2011, and will likely be on the lookout for any opportunity to prove he belongs.

Play Ball!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ping

College Baseball's new sound (KOMU.com VIDEO)
"I still haven't figured out the sound, yet. Some balls you'll think they hit good and it will sound weird and it won't go anywhere and other ones will sound dead and it will carry," Missouri outfielder Jonah Schmidt said.

"They sound kind of like a graphite driver kinda," added Mach.

Big 12 Coaches Poll & Teleconference

Big 12 Coaches PreSeason Poll:
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Texas
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Baylor
  5. Kansas State
  6. Oklahoma State
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Nebraska
  9. Kansas
  10. Missouri
@MUTigerBaseball on Twitter: Another poll, same story... Fine by us, fuel for our fire! #MIZ #redemptionin11

■ Notes from the Big 12 Coaches Teleconference (big12sports.com) The teleconference audio will be archived.

• Tim Jamieson, MU:
Will preparing to coach the USA National team impact your time? The selection process is going to be different this year, so it will be more office work, maybe one day a week.

Do you expect pitchers to pitch inside more because of the new bats? I expect more to see a need for more strike-to-ball efficiency.

What areas need the most polish? Last year we played a lot of young people and that will definitely help us. The biggest thing we have to overcome is we don't have a real marquee guy, its going to have to be a team effort.

How much separation do you think there is between those four south schools picked 1,2,3,4 and the rest of the conference? I don't think there's going to be that much of a separation from 1 to 10.

Who are the new pitchers you're going to be looking at? If the season starts today, the Friday night pitcher will be Matt Stites; Saturday guy will be Rob Zastryzny; Zach Hardoin looks to be the Sunday guy. The guy nobody has talked about is Eric Garcia. He's a guy that will probably be an end of the game guy.

What are your thought about the Big 12 Tournament format change? I do feel like the drama had left the tournament. But for us, you never want to be in the loser's bracket, but there's a drama that you lose without the double elimination tournament. . . If you get into the Regionals and to Omaha, it's double-elimination, so it prepares us for what's ahead.

• Dan Spencer, TT:
Pitching: We're going to throw more strikes, and we're going to be better defensively this year . . . The pitchers, at the end of the year, sign your check.

New bats: The guys that can hit are going to be fine with the new bat. . . . The batting averages and RBIs are going to be similar; the home runs will be down.
• Mike Anderson, NU:
Mindset on playing their last year in the Big 12: I don't think it's changed . . . our goal is to get toward the top of the conference and move on into the post-season.

Recruiting for the Big 10: We're pleasantly surprised with the strong interest we've gotten from across the country.

New bats: The key to it is throwing strikes. there's no way you can give up free passes. . . I think it's going to change the game quite a bit.

Darren Erstad as a coach: He has the ability to serve people . . . it's the first time I've turned the offense over to somebody else in the past 10 years, and he's energized the kids.
• Ritch Price, KU:
New bats: The games are about 30 minutes shorter than they've been in the past, in the intra-squad games
What's it going to be like not coaching a Price: If my wife hadn't cut me off, I'd have a lot better team.
• Steve Smith, BU:
New bats: I'm excited about the change. I think we literally have our game back. Some of the players of this generation . . . I don't think they even know how to play the game. . . The last 10 or 15 years you sat in the dugout, you hoped your pitcher could at least miss the bat, and you waited 'til someone hit it up in the wind and out. . . . It's an emphasis on how you play the game of baseball.
• Brad Hill, KSU:
New bats: It is what it is . . . Heck, we only hit 31 home runs last year, it's not going to effect our team.
• Rob Childress, aTm:
New bats: A team's not going to be able to cover up a mistake in the 3rd inning with a 5-6 run inning later. It's just not going to happen. . . You're going to see a number of games played in under 2 hours. . . You don't want to show up 30 minutes late - you might be in the 6th inning.
• Sunny Golloway, OU:
Following up on 2010 success: There's a special temperament that comes with being a team that went to Omaha last year. . . I've had to get on some players.
New bats: Our power guys it doesn't seem to affect us as much . . . We haven't put too much emphasis; I don't want that bat to have too much of a psychological effect on what are already good hitters.
• Frank Anderson, OSU:
New bats: It's always been big to throw strikes . . . we had home runs over the weekend - they're not going 500 feet, they're going 400 feet. . . Every hitting coach in college baseball has been whining about it, but so far it seems pretty good.
Why they had a down year in 2010: We have a niche that was going good with the transfers, but then they changed the rules on that.
• Augie Garrido, UT:
New bats: You still have to be able to execute. Few of the players that c0me out of high school are able to bunt, understand the concept of productive outs . . We still have a lot of work to do for our players to get the timing, to execute the plays. . . . It's about sustaining the rally. . . We played a total of 72 innings [in practice], 36 against ourselves, 36 against outside Division 1 opponents, and there was not one home run hit in those 72 innings. . . Every game is going to take on its own destiny.

Big 12: Every team has a nucleus of a good team. It comes down to which teams have the attitude and teamwork . . . any one of the teams in the conference could catch that magic.

2011 MU Baseball Preview: Pitching

In Part 2 of our 2011 season preview, we'll take a look at the pitching staff. Note: This preview is being posted prior to the final cuts are made to the roster. About 40 players began winter practice, and the playing season roster limit is 35.

"We're only going to be as good as our pitchers," says Tim Jamieson (on KFRU's The Closers).

In preseason interviews Coach Jamieson has seemed to have a good idea of who he expects to be in competition for the starting jobs. I expect Tim Jamieson to follow his usual course of action and use the first few weeks of of the season to shake out the pitching staff, throwing those pitchers that looked good in practice up against real D-1 college opponents, giving them a chance to sort themselves out into weekend starters, mid-weeks starters, bullpen workhorses, and closers.

The main difference this year for MU pitching is the presence of a new pitching coach, Matt Hobbs. The new banner on the practice facility sums up his philosophy, which includes something called Controlled Recklessness. Should be interesting. Much better than the uncontrolled type.

The current staff represents just 34 of last season's starts, so someone's going to have to step in and fill in those other games.

Sophomore Eric Anderson (RHP) started 9 games in 2010, and was cruising along with Nick Tepesch as the Friday-Saturday 1-2 punch when he suffered a tear in his labrum. EA will no doubt be given the opportunity to work his way back into the top 2, but it may take him awhile to get to that point. I don't expect to see him as a starter before the middle of the season.

Senior Jeff Scardino (LHP) came in as a JuCo transfer last year and started 7 games. He's the classic workhorse who can swing back and forth between filling a starting role and some spot relief appearances (he had a dozen appearances from the bullpen).

Senior Brad Buehler (RHP) had 6 starts, but struggled with his ERA as the season went on. We'll have to wait and see which Brad Buehler shows up for the season. He could fill an important spot in the stating rotation or challenge for the closer's role. It's up to him, really.

Senior Kelly Fick (LHP) led the staff in ERA in 2010, but only was given 3 starts, much to the consternation of his considerable fan following. He showed his stuff in a March 14th game (my birthday) when he came in on a moment's notice after starter Nick Tepesch was hit by a batted ball in the 1st inning. All the Fick-Fans will be waiting to see whether Kelly grabs one of the weekend starting jobs or continues to shine as a reliever (he was the ERA leader among the Johnny Wholestaffers in 2009).

Senior Zach Hardoin (LHP) has been impressing everyone with his "nasty stuff" during pre-season practices. He has put himself into a good position to get a shot at the weekend rotation early on.

Juniors Ryan Clubb (RHP) and Jeff Emens (RHP) each saw some spot starts last season, and will likely continue to play an important part in what promises to be a veteran bullpen.

There is help from another quarter: the JuCo transfers. There always seems to be a pitcher or two who transfers to MU and fills and adds to the depth of the staff. In 2010 it was a couple of guys named Scardino and Blunt.

Junior Matt Stites (RHP) was drafted in June by the Chicago Cubs, but wisely chose Tigers over the Baby Bears. He had an impressive summer in the Cape Cod League, and now is expected to be a leader on the Tigers' starting rotation. While the other pitchers rehab and wrangle for their spots, Stites will most likely be an anchor on the weekend staff, likely getting the initial nod on Friday nights.

Junior RHPs Dusty Ross and James Hudelson are the other newcomers from the JuCo ranks. Both Ross and Hudelson had success as closers in both the JuCo ranks and in summer ball, so both will be in the competition for that role with the Tigers.

Tim Jamieson has also mentioned that SS Eric Garcia, who was a pitcher in high school, will likely see some relief appearances in 2001. According to TJ, he's already been throwing in the low 90's in preseason training. Expect to see EG in the mix as one of the team's closers.

And then there's one more JuCo transfer: junior Brian Carr (LHP). Carr is unique because he is on his second go-round with Mizzou. He spent a year with the Tigers and transferred to the JuCo ranks, where he had success. He also has been a successful pitcher in summer ball. And now he's back with MU. I expect him to be a big contributor in the bullpen this year.

Other returning pitchers that saw limited time in 2010 are seniors Kenny Burton (LHP), who has been working his way back from injury, and Kevin Mahler (RHP). Jake Walsh (LHP), was a freshman last year but did not make the cut for the season roster. I haven't seen enough of these guys in action to know if they'll earn a shot at contributing in 2011, or whether they'll all even make the cut for the final playing season roster.

And no, I haven't forgotten there is one more returning senior on the pitching staff: left-handed knuckle-dragging submariner Phil McCormick. McCormick, who at one point was almost ready to retire from baseball altogether, has resurrected his career and led the team in appearances last year with 35 (nearly 2/3 of MU's total games). Unless Jamieson and Hobbs decide to give Phil a shot at being the next Tim Wakefield, he'll almost certainly return in his role as the disruptor in the middle of the relief corps.

Freshmen

2010 was the year of the freshman position player. 2011 is the year of the freshman pitcher. Five young pitchers are set to make an impact on the team for the next 3-4 years. Tim Jamieson told KFRU's The Closers that "a lot of the new guys are going to have to.

Ian Ekery (LHP) was named first team All-City and first team All-District 5A for the second straight year. Ian's 2010 numbers: 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 47 K's in 51 innings. Ekery also appears to be a real team-leader type, according to this article: 10 Most Influential Seniors.

Matt Linderer (RHP) was the Pitcher of the Year in the AAA_Conference and was named to the All-State team. According to a Profile on SuburbanJournals.com, "the 6-foot-2, 178-pound Linderer was outstanding as he went 8-1 with an earned run average of 1.83. He struck out 85 batters in 69 innings."

Myles Smith (RHP) led his team to a state title in 2010. He went 8-1 in 2010 with a 1.58 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched. Read this profile of Smith on ESPN Rise and you'll be excited about seeing this young man in a Mizzou uniform.

Ryan Yuengel (RHP) from Festus, MO, has some impressive stats (1.38 ERA, 59 K in 45-1/3 innings pitched) and a record of performing big when the stakes are high.

Rob Zastryzny (LHP) comes from the Corpus Christi area and was the most dominating prep pitcher in that part of Texas in 2010. He has received MVP of the year, Pitcher of the Year, several All-Region, All-Conference, All-everything team honors, and led his team to great success during the season and deep into the postseason. Rob Z seems the most likely to be the first freshman to get a shot at being a regular starter. Tim Jamieson says, "he's lights out . . . he has a chance to be really special."

If even 2 or 3 of those young arms fulfill their potential, 2011 and the years that follow could be great ones for Mizzou.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big 12 Coaches Pre-Season Teleconference

The Big 12 Pre-Season Teleconference is scheduled for Tuesday morning, the 15th. First on the schedule is MU's Tim Jamieson, at 10:00 AM. Listen live at Big12Sports.com. Also, the 2011 Big 12 Coaches Preseason Poll should be out today.

2011 MU Baseball Preview: What can we expect?

"We've been picked to finish last in the Big 12. That's not gonna happen. I can guarantee you that's not going to happen." (Head Coach Tim Jamieson, at the 1st Pitch Celebration)

". . . And Mizzou does not look good at all. Should be at or near the bottom of the conference." (Fred Katz, CollegeBaseballDaily.com)

The Tigers enter the 2011 season pegged as nearly-unanimous favorites to be . . . mediocre.
  • Nearly every Top 20/25/30 ranking list leaves Mizzou out entirely

  • College Baseball Today did give the Tigers a ranking (71st), but only because he ranked everybody in his Top 300

  • College Baseball Today picked the Tigers to finish 8th in the Big 12; College Baseball Daily puts them at 9th. Kendall Rogers, now of PerfectGame.org, continues a perfect record of underestimating the Tigers, picking MU to finish 10th in the Big 12 and to again miss the Regionals.

  • Even our own You Make the Call poll, voted on by a crack team of biased ballot-box stuffers, picked our team to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 - 3rd at best. In spite of that lukewarm vote of semi-confidence, most of the voting fans do foresee an invite to the Regionals, but there's not much confidence in anything beyond that level.
Why the tepid enthusiasm?
  • Last year. In 2010, the Tigers battled their way into the Big 12 Tournament in the last week of the regular season, but were left out of the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2002, breaking an 8-year streak.

  • The Tigers lost two of their top hitters (Aaron Senne and Brett Nicholas) and their pitching staff ace (Nick Tepesch).

  • And one big reason for the lack of confidence? Mizzou fans always seem to expect the worst to happen.
So, realistically, what can we expect from the Tigers in 2011? There are lots of changes that will impact the season - more than usual going into a new year.

Rebuilding year? Or rehabbing year?

The string of high profile pitchers of the past few years (Scherzer-Crow-Zagone-Gibson-Tepesch) ran into a speed bump last season, which was one big reason the Tigers' string of post-season appearances hiccuped as well.

A look at the 2011 pitching staff, though, shows that Pitching U may be back on track. Junior transfer Matt Stites is a likely high round draft pick - potentially a first rounder if he shines at the D-1 level like some expect him to. Sophomore Eric Anderson was touted as a hot prospect until his season was crippled by injury. And there are at least 2 or 3 of the incoming freshman pitching class that could be scouts' favorites as they develop over the coming three years.

As for the offense, in college baseball every year is a rebuilding year. Every college baseball fan wonders how their team is going to replace the offense they lost from players who were drafted or graduated. And every year, those inconsistent young hitters from the past season turn out to be the matured offensive lynchpins of this year.

The biggest key, though, for getting the Tigers back on the track they were for the previous eight years, is having the patience to let the numerous injured pitchers and players get back to full strength. Most of them won't quite be there on Day 1. But most of them should be contributing at a high level by the time the Big 12 season gets underway.

The key will be to find ways to manufacture enough wins in the first month of the season to keep from digging a hole too deep to climb out of. Part of the answer for that may be to shift a rehabbing pitcher (Anderson) and a rehabbing outfielder (Opel) to cover the biggest infield hole (1B) as a way of working their arms back into shape for their real jobs.

Mixed schedule

After a season-starting schedule against some pretty decent teams (USC, North Carolina and Charlotte are all likely NCAA Regional teams) MU has a very winnable schedule between the beginning of March and the heart of the Big 12 season, featuring a mixture of some halfway decent teams (e.g., Texas State, #49 in the final 2010 NCAA RPIs) and some halfway indecent teams (e.g., Central Arkansas, #215). This should provide plenty of time and plenty of competition to get some of the injured Tigers back up to peak condition, plus time sort out the pitching staff and the daily starting lineup to see who has the right stuff to lead this team toward the post-season.

New coaches

It's worth coming out to the ballpark in 2011 if only to see how the team's philosophy changes under the direction of new assistant coaches Matt Hobbs and Kerrick Jackson. TJ is still The Man, but it's often the assistants who are interacting with the players most closely, getting in their heads. If nothing else, the change will give the returning players a new perspective on things.

Sources tell me Hobbs has really injected a new attitude and approach into the pitching staff already. And Jackson has proven himself a sharp judge and developer of talent.

Personally, I want to see which of them steps into the role vacated by Tony Vitello, that of most-likely to spontaneously start waving his arms and yelling at the umpires.

New pitchers

2010 was the year for freshman position players. 2011's freshman class is dominated by young pitchers.

Part of the fun of college baseball is watching the young players come in from high school, full of enthusiasm, ready to conquer the baseball world. And then we get to see which ones live up to their potential and which ones don't.

This pitching class is full of possibilities. How the team fares this season could rest on how quickly these young arms develop and make an impact.

New bats

There's been an abundance of articles and blog posts about the new BBCOR bat standards that go into effect for the 2011 season, which reportedly take a lot of the pop out of the metal bats.

On the one hand, this should be good for those baseball purists who say they don't like college baseball because of the "fake" home runs off the pinging metal bats. They're still not wood, like Stan the Man used to swing, but there really should be no more excuses to stay away because of the bats.

And the scouts should have a bit easier time of telling who has real power versus college power.

On the other hand, a lot of college baseball fans, coaches and players have gotten quite accustomed to the ping of the bats, the Punch-and-Judy homers and the high scoring games. There's even a college baseball message board called PingWits, reveling in the difference between the college game and the pro game.

Some of those coaches are going to have to drastically rethink their coaching strategy, and a lot of college power hitters are going to have to learn how to really muscle one out of the ballpark.

And the college pitchers will learn that perhaps they really can start to pitch inside and jam up hitters, just like the Big League pitchers do.

According to a Trib article by Matt Nestor, Missouri baseball puts emphasis on bunts, stolen bases. This is a good thing. Hopefully it will make a difference, because I have to be honest - Two things that have characterized MU Baseball in recent years have been an abysmal bunting success rate, and a tendency toward Base Cadets getting into trouble on the base paths. Not since Jayce Tingler (00-03) has Mizzou had a player who really excelled at both of those small-ball skills. Some emphasis in those areas could really do the team some good.

As Tim Jamieson said on KFRU's The Closers, the team used wooden bats in Fall practice while they waited for the new bats to arrive. The reasoning was that the players would find the new metal bats to be much more lively than the wood they had gotten used to, whereas going from the the old metal bats to the new ones would have felt like going to a deader bat.

Count me as a fan of the new bats if they really do usher in an era of small ball (with the caveat that this whole thing could turn out to be much ado about nothing). I became a diehard baseball fan during the era of Whitey Ball in St. Louis, and a team that manufacturers runs can be a very exciting team to watch.

New lineup

Tim Jamieson said on KFRU's The Closers that while the team has lost a lot of power in the departure of Senne and Nicholas, it may be that Schmidt, Brown and Opel have more power than those guys, but they just have to grow into it, and he mentioned that those guys are slated to be in the middle of the lineup, along with Mach and Garcia contributing strongly in the lineup.

So . . . Who's on first?

I don't know.

There are plenty of question about who will be the starters and how the season is going to play out.

In parts 2 and 3 of our pre-season preview we'll take a look at the Tigers' position players and at the pitchers and try to get an idea of what the 2011 Tigers will look like.