Sunday, September 16, 2012

SEC Fan's Guide to Mizzou Baseball: Johnny Wholestaff & Priday's Friday

Every baseball program has its stories that are told over and over again by the fans. During Tim Jamieson's tenure, two of the most often repeated tales are of the exploits of Johnny Wholestaff and Jake Priday.

The photo above is not of a Mizzou player who has suffered severe facial injuries.  This is one the most famous - some would say infamous - Missouri Tiger to play during Tim Jamieson's time as head coach.

The picture is a composite of the official bio head-shots of all the MU pitchers who contributed to the Johhny Wholestaff pitching strategy during the 2009 season.

Every baseball coach at one time or another has been forced to throw numerous successive pitchers in a game.  This strategy, usually called Johnny Wholestaff, is generally used when an overloaded schedule has depleted the starting rotation, or when the team is suffering a blow-out or a long extra-inning game.

As I said in 2009:
Mr. Wholestaff was cobbled together by Tim "Dr. Frankenstein" Jamieson and his trusty sidekick Tony "Igor" Vitello as a creative answer to the problem all Division I teams have faced since the 56-game season was compressed into 2-3 fewer weeks than before. The new compact season means many weeks playing 5 games in 7 days, necessitating either a really deep core of starters - or a creative alternative.
Their plan was not to throw open the bullpen gates just when things got tough.  They incorporated the multi-faceted Johnny W into their regular starting rotation - even the weekend rotation.

And, lo and behold, it was pretty successful.  Opposing lineups had difficulty adjusting to seeing a new pitcher every inning.  Some of the Tiger pitchers, like sophomore Kelly Fick, seemed to thrive as a key member of the Wholestaff persona. Fick and Ryan Gargano tied for the ERA lead, at 0.63, with an identical 14-1/3 IP

The stats for J. Wholestaff at the end of the season were as follows:
11-4 W-L record; 3.64 ERA, 15 G, 136 IP, 131 H, 66 R, 55 ER, 42 BB, 100 SO, 1.27 WHIP

That was good enough to tie with Kyle Gibson for 1st on the team in wins, 3rd in ERA, and tied with Gibson and Ian Berger in games started.

And that 1.27 WHIP (walks + hits per innings pitched) was bettered on the team only by Gibson (1.07) and Brad Buehler (1.26).

On a windy and cool Friday night, a crowd of over 1,200 fans showed up at Simmons Field, drawn by the coverage and speculation about a possible historic record-breaking game. The energy and expectation in the crowd was apparent even before the first pitch. No one was really very sure how many innings it would take for Aaron Crow to set a new all-time D-1 record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched (since no one really knows what the record is for sure), but they all wanted to be there to witness the event when it happened.

Just a few short minutes into the 1st inning, the anticipation crashed to earth as Aaron Crow showed that even Superman has his kryptonite. The excitement shifted from the crowd to the Longhorn dugout as the Texas players, obviously fully aware of the scoreless streak, celebrated at a level not usual for merely scoring the first run of a ballgame.

And by the time the Longjohned Longhorns had finished their second inning at bat, our Tigers were down 8-0. I saw a small number of faithless fans head for the exits at that point. Boy were they stupid.

MU answered back with 3 runs in the bottom of the 2nd, Texas added a 9th run in the 3rd, and then the slumping Mizzou offense woke up like an angry man whose home had been invaded.

10 runs in the bottom of the 3rd was the first explosion, followed by more runs as the game went along, piling up to a final tally of 31 runs, against the Longhorns' total of 12.

The 10-run inning was the biggest inning for the Tigers since an 11-run second inning against Mississippi Valley State on May 6, 2006

Jacob Priday, right
Jacob Priday (aka The Incredible Hulk), led the attack with his own record-breaking performance.

Priday was 5-for-5 on the night. He set the single-game school record with four home runs, nine RBI and six runs scored. The four home runs is the most ever in the Big 12 Conference and is tied for third most in NCAA history.

With the four homers, Priday moved within one of the Missouri school record with 44 for his career. The nine RBI give him 218, which was four shy of the Mizzou career mark.

Every Tiger in the starting lineup had at least one hit and five had at least three. The 26 hits for Missouri tied a school record, which was set in 2005 against Navy.

The 31 runs were the most scored by the Tigers since they defeated Truman State 30-0 in 2003. It was the most runs scored by MU against a conference opponent since a 27-4 win over Nebraska in 1956. The all-time MU record for runs scored in a single game is 35, set in 1904.

The loss was the worst for Texas since a 25-6 defeat against Texas A&M in 1995. It was the first game in which Texas allowed at least 20 runs since 1998.

The 31 runs is the most ever allowed by any Texas baseball team in their ilustrious history.

But hey, they got to celebrate that first run they scored.

Oh, and the winning pitcher in the game?

Aaron Crow.

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