Monday, April 30, 2012

HI NOTES: Brock Bond is Back

MU IN THE MINORS

Brock Bond
Fresno Grizzlies
Brock Bond is Back!
The last time we reported on Brock Bond, his status going into the 2012 was uncertain, after missing most of 2011 on the disabled list following a concussion.

But Brock has been in the Fresno Grizzlies lineup since April 12th, most often as the DH, but also playing at 2nd twice and 3rd twice.  His .171 BA is not great, but his OBP is .293.

In a game on April 24th, Brock reached base four times, with a triple and 3 bases on balls.

Here's a SimmonsField.com Tip of the Cap to Brock Bond, who's still chasing the dream.
From Twitter:
@cornerinfielder: Brock Bond still exists. Okay.
GAME DAY

Mizzou Catcher Plays With Big League Ambition (KOMU) with VIDEO
Ben's evolved into a Tiger captain.

"The respect that he gets from the pitching staff. The way that he deals with the game. He's a baseball player and that's a real compliment because there's not a lot of those guys out there anymore. Guys that know how to play the game," head coach Tim Jamieson said.

"He'll come out and yell at me if I'm doing something wrong," Zastryzny said. "He's not going to be like Rob settle down. He's going to be like Rob, throw a strike rigt here. Ok, Ben, whatever you want."

Red Raiders capture first Big 12 series victory of season with 7-0 shutout of Missouri (lubbockonline.om)
The win, coupled with Kansas State suffering the sweep at the hands of Oklahoma State and Kansas’ series finale against Oklahoma being washed out, puts the Red Raiders (25-22, 5-13) a half-game ahead of the Jayhawks (4-13) for seventh place and two games ahead of the ninth-place Wildcats (3-15) in the Big 12 standings with six games left to play. Tech is at Texas A&M next weekend, then hosts Kansas State to end the season May 17-19

Tech is also just two games behind Missouri (23-19, 7-11), which hosts Texas next weekend and winds up the season at Kansas. The Red Raiders need just two wins in their remaining six league games to clinch a berth in the Big 12 Championships.
Tech baseball picks up first Big 12 series win (Daily Toreador)
Needing some wins to get out of the cellar of the Big 12 Conference, the Red Raiders did just that this weekend.
After dropping the first game to Missouri, Texas Tech bounced back to take the next two to win the weekend series — its first Big 12 series win of the season.

It was nice to finally pick up the series win and gain some momentum heading into the final few weeks of play, Tech third baseman Reid Redman said.

“Well it took us long enough, but it’s good. I think we needed some momentum going into the next couple of weeks and it was really big for us, and hopefully this momentum will carry into next week at A&M.”
DRAFT

Draft Picks by College (thebaseballcube.com)
"A historical view of draft picks by college since the Amateur Baseball draft began in 1965. The list is sorted by the number of draft picks by school. Click on a school to see the complete list of draft picks."

Mizzou comes in at 48th, with 133 draftees. Texas is the highest Big 12 tam on the list (4th, with 305). LSU is the highest SEC team at 23rd, with 179.

The list is interesting, with some surprises. You'll never guess what college is #1 with 445 draftees. A hint: A former Mizzou player is now playing at this college.
BIG 12

Kendrick: Baseball must improve in Big 12 (thedaonline.com)
Since 2000, the West Virginia baseball team has had eight losing seasons in Big East Conference play. It has won just three Big East tournament games since 2005 and hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since head coach Greg Van Zant’s second season in 1996.

And, after this season, the Mountaineers will be moving from the Big East to the Big 12 Conference, which is widely considered one of the elite leagues in America.

"The baseball program is clearly in need of revitalization," said Ken Kendrick, the managing partner of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks and a WVU alum and booster. "I know (Athletic Director Oliver Luck) is committed to working on making the program a better program than it is."
. . .
"We don’t want any of our teams to be a doormat in the Big 12. We want this to be a positive experience and be a competitive program with some of the best in the country."

The first step in continuing to improve the program is to upgrade facilities at WVU.

In February, Luck said WVU was looking to build a new baseball facility that would be located at the University Town Center.

The new facility has been making progress, but there’s still plenty of work to be done before West Virginia will be able to call it home.

9 Reasons Why Taylor Stadium should be sold out this weekend

The new student baseball fan group, Tigers on Deck, has said they want to see 3,000 at the MU-UT games this coming weekend.  Here's the Top Nine Reasons why we should help them reach that goal:
  1. Fond Farewell: This series will be the final time that any Longhorn team in any sport plays at Mizzou in a Big 12 contest.  You'll want to be there to help plant a sizzling MIZ-SEC brand on their flanks.

  2. UT Arrogance:  “Don’t get in a pissing contest with Texas because you’re not going to win,” Walsworth recalled Dodds saying. (Columbia Tribune, 11/7/2011)

  3. UT Fans:  TexasUFO on HornFans.com, in reply to "Mizzou to SEC official now": They've been jumping up and down with their skirt up for a long time trying to give themselves away to anyone that was willing to take them. I am glad they finally got "picked up". They have been pathetic and embarrasing themselves begging for someone to love them. Athletically they've been irrevelant in the Big 12. They'll be the same in the SEC in football, but pribably better in a very, very weak basketball conference.

  4. Disrespect:  This could be the last chance to make a lot of noise and drown out the Longhorn players when they dare to stand on Simmons Field and sing their creepy stalker version of "I've Been Working on the Railroad".

  5. SEC Practice:  Mizzou fans need to get in the habit of packing the park for big conference games.  In the SEC, baseball attracts crowd larger than Taylor Stadium can even hold (the average attendance at all SEC home games in 2011 was 4,899).  and some SEC schools are notorious for baseball fans who travel to away games in large numbers and in very loud spirit.  MU needs to protect their house and not be outdone in our own ballpark.

  6. Heckling:  The Longhorns are always an easy team to  heckle, whether the focus is their cow-poop uniforms or the venerable and heckle-able Augie Garrido (link NSFW).  This is your last chance to skewer the Shorthorns, and, most especially,  to remind SS Jordan Etier that we haven't forgotten his 15 minutes of fame.

  7. Best Show in CoMo:  MU Football and Basketball are over. MU Softball is in Oregon. The Cards are in Houston.  The Royals are still the Royals.  Come on out and see how much fun Mizzou Baseball can be!

  8. It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame!
    Friday: 87 / Partly Cloudy
    • Saturday: 88 / Sunny
    • Sunday: 87 / Partly Cloudy

  9. It's Baseball!!  It's the National Anthem and Take Me Out to the Ballgame and hitters' and pitchers' walk-up songs..  It's popcorn and peanuts and, if you're brave, a heater dog.  It's "inside baseball" with pitchers taking advantage of those new bats and hitters playing for 1 run and hoping to build a rally.  It's a mix of future major leaguers and future doctors and stock brokers, all  playing their hearts out, chasing the dream.  It's 1-2-3 strikes you're out and sending the runner home in the bottom of the 9th.  It's telling the ump to turn the plate over and read the directions.  It's ridiculous hula hoop contests and Mizzou Baseball trivia.  It's guys watching the bat-girls/grounds-crew and girls checking out the ballplayers in their tight uniforms. It's that moment in a Friday night game when the sun has set and the stadium lights have turned the field into a sparkling diamond and you smile to yourself and remember the first time you went to a ballgame with your dad.  It's baseball.  You don't want to miss it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

HI NOTES: Ups & Downs

Tech holds off Missouri for 4-3 win; von Schamann leaves with strained bicep (redraiders.com)
Asked to describe the emotional gamut experienced in Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Missouri at Rip Griffin Park, normally sure-worded Texas Tech coach Dan Spencer was at somewhat of a loss.

He’d just watched his team get off to a blazing start with four runs in two innings, then get shut down the rest of the way by Missouri’s bullpen, and along the way had to pull ace right-hander Duke von Schamann with a strained bicep muscle in his pitching arm. Then, to preserve a one-run lead in the ninth, he had to turn to his Sunday starter, Trey Masek, who opened the year as Tech’s closer.

Tech baseball evens series with Missouri (kcbd.com)

Starting pitcher Duke von Schamann (6-3) earned the win for the Red Raiders going 5.2 innings allowing three runs (all unearned) on just two base hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Three Tech relievers, Shane Broyles (1.2 IP), Daniel Coulombe (0.0 IP) and Jerad McCrummen (0.2 IP) held Tech's one-run lead before handing the ball off to sophomore Trey Masek in the ninth.

Masek, scheduled as Tech's Sunday starter, allowed a lead-off single in the ninth, but then retired three consecutive batters with a strikeout looking, fly out to right fielder Jordan Lopez and a groundout to McGruder at second base to earn his second save of the season.

Missouri starting pitcher Blake Holovach (5-3) took the loss allowing four runs on five hits in 1.2 innings with one walk.

♦ The rise and fall of innings pitched by Blake Holovach

  • 0.2 2/17 relief
  • 1.0 2/19 relief
  • 0.1 2/24 relief
  • 0.2 2/26 relief
  • 5.0 3/4 start W
  • 6.2 3/10 start W
  • 9.0 3/12 start W
  • 8.2 3/24 start W
  • 6.1 3/31 start W
  • 5.2 4/6 start L
  • 5.2 4/14 start L
  • 5.0 4/21 start L
  • 1.2 4/28 start L
NOTE: I don't have the actual pitch count in Holovach's appearances, but according to the Pitch Count Watch list at boydsworld.com, Holovach has not thrown enough pitches in any one game to merit inclusion on that list (Zastyzny has once).

On the other hand, Blake has not had years to build up his pitching endurance like most other college pitchers his age. According to reports, the first time he pitched was in his senior year in high school, just three years ago.

Holovach pitched an average 64 innings in each of his two years at Coffeyville Community College before coming to Mizzou.  As of yesterday, he has pitched 55.1 innings for Mizzou this season.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

HI NOTES: Low Tech

Zastrynzy shuts down Red Raider offense as Tigers trounce Tech 9-0 (lubbockonline.com)
So much for Missouri struggling to pitch on the road in the Big 12 Conference.

Left-hander Rob Zastryzny silenced the Texas Tech offense in tossing his first career complete game, and the Missouri Tigers blasted Tech starter John Neely for seven runs in the fourth inning for a 9-0 trouncing of the Red Raiders in the opener of a three-game Big 12 series Friday night at Rip Griffin Park.

“It felt good to finally throw in the ninth inning for once. That’s the first time I’d ever done that in my life, actually,” Zastryzny said.

Daily Diatribe (doubletnation.com)
Well, Texas Tech was embarrassed at home by losing to Missouri, 9-0 (official site). LAJ's George Watson recaps the game and reports that no players were made available to the media last night. This thing is going down incredibly fast.
Ross emerges as MU's dependable closer (Columbia Tribune)
Ross, the Tigers' closer, has a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings against Big 12 competition. Last weekend against Kansas State, Ross picked up a win Saturday and a save Sunday to help Missouri sweep the Wildcats and gain valuable separation in the standings.

"The guy's going to come in and get you big outs when you need them," pitching coach Matt Hobbs said. "He's got the right mentality for it."

The role of closer might be too confining to describe Ross. The Tigers aren't afraid to use him in any situation.

Friday, April 27, 2012

HI NOTES: Game Day, MU in the Minors

GAME DAY

New Masked Rider Takes First Ride Friday (TexasTech.com)
Prior to the start of the Texas Tech and Missouri Big 12 baseball series this weekend, there will be a special ceremony for the annual "transfer of the reins" for new Masked Rider Ashley Wenzel on Friday, April 27 at 6:15 p.m. at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.

The ceremony will begin at 6:15 p.m. with Ashley's first ride scheduled at 6:25 p.m. Bradley Skinner, the Masked Rider for the 2011-12 year, will be transferring the reins to Ashley, who will take her first ride aboard Midnight Matador.

Wenzel, daughter of Gary and Theresa Wenzel, accepted the reins to Midnight Matador on Friday, April 20, becoming the 51st Texas Tech student to don the mascot mask and cape.

Red Raiders in desperate need of wins (redraiders.com)
It’s in league games where the Red Raiders have struggled the most, hitting just .238 with a Big 12-worst 45 runs scored.

Missouri, however, has struggled on the mound when away from the friendly confines of Taylor Stadium. The Tigers are giving up more than six runs per game in road conference games and are just 1-5 in those games.

Starting pitchers Rob Zastryzny, Blake Holvach and Brett Graves have combined to allow 23 earned runs (24 total) on 38 hits over 271/3 innings in six Big 12 road games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, which equates to a 7.67 ERA.

Tech takes on Mizzou for final time in conference play (Daily Toreador)
von Schamann — who was recently added to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List — will, once again, be making a Saturday start after Spencer shook up the starting lineup a bit. He ranks second in the Big 12 with a 1.84 ERA, and first among starters, as the only person above him is Texas reliever Corey Knebel who has a 1.27 ERA.

Two Tech players who started out the season in the bullpen will round out the starting rotation for Tech, as John Neely will make the Friday start and Trey Masek will be on the bump Sunday.

With the season about to wrap up, von Schamann said he still thinks the team has what it takes to compete and get into the postseason.

“I mean coming down to the end of the year, this is pretty much as big as it gets,” he said, “you know, we need everyone we can get. I know we’ve got a lot of talent on this team, and we’re still hoping to do something in the postseason, so these games are really, really big for us and everyone knows that.”

Missouri infielder works through injury setback after earning starting spot (Columbia Missourian)
McGraw partially tore a ligament in his left thumb during practice April 19, one day before the Tigers opened a three-game series against Kansas State.

He had just locked up the first base starting job after coach Tim Jamieson's first three choices for the position failed to produce offensively.

The Newman, Ga., native grew into the role quickly. In his seven games at first base, McGraw hit .370 with six RBIs. Now, he will be in a cast for two weeks before moving forward with rehab.
. . .
Next year, McGraw could potentially take over third base, a position currently handled by senior Conner Mach. In the meantime, he has worked with his teammates to adapt to the other side of the diamond.

MU IN THE MINORS

Gibson could return in august (Greenfield Reporter)
Greenfield-Central graduate and Minnesota Twins minor league pitcher Kyle Gibson could return to the mound in game action as early as August, he told the Daily Reporter Thursday.

Gibson, the Twins’ 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, underwent Tommy John surgery September 7 of last year to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow after being put on the disabled list at Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.).

“I am throwing from back at 120 feet and I feel great,” Gibson said of his current rehabilitation. “I’ll throw off a mound for the first time June 5 and the plan is to (return to the mound in a game) in August.”

Gibson, 24, isn’t sure with which level of the minor league system he’ll begin his return to game action.


Pelicans use big fourth inning to beat Keys (scnow.com)
The fourth inning offense was all Pelicans starter Nick Tepesch needed, firing his first quality start and earning his first win of 2012. Tepesch struggled in the first, matching his previous season total with two walks. He coasted after that, allowing one run on three hits with five strikeouts.

Game Day: MU @ Texas Tech

LubbockOnline.com
“The way the league has played out we understand that we’ve got to fight to get into the Big 12 tournament and then see if we can win it,” said head coach Dan Spencer.

“We’re in this position, and we’ve put ourselves in this position, so there’s nobody to blame but ourselves. I hope the guys will come out (and play well), and I believe that they will, and hopefully being at home helps some.” (redraiders.com, 4/23)

Texas Tech began the season going 8-1 (the only loss to Missouri State), but now stands at 23-21.  In the Big 12, they were swept by Baylor and Oklahoma State, went 1-2 against Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, and come into Columbia dragging their tail with a 3-12 conference record and having lost 6 of their last 7 games.


♦ MU vs. TT Stats
MUTT
Batting Average
.281
.300
ERA
4.38
 4.15
RPI
.532
.527
RPI rank
91st
101st
Strength of Schedule
101st
75th

All three of Tech's Big 12 wins have come with RS Sophomore RHP Duke von Schamann as the starter.  He is the son of former University of Oklahoma and Miami Dolphins place-kicker Uwe von Schamann.


♦ Texas Tech’s Duke von Schamann is up to his Old Man’s tricks… coming through big in the clutch. Today, the Red Raider ace threw his second straight complete game and gave up just two hits to Kansas in a 3-1. I love this stat from SID Scott Lacefield’s write-up: von Schamann threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of the 30 batters he faced. (College Baseball Today, 3/31)

Lubbock Weekend Weather
Friday 91 / Sunny
Saturday 85 / Sunny
Sunday 81 / 40% T-Storms
Duke von Schamann Named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week (Big12Sports.com)
Texas Tech redshirt sophomore Duke von Schamann has been named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Pitcher of the Week, conference officials announced Monday.

It marks the 18th time a Red Raider pitcher has been awarded Big 12 Pitcher of the Week and the first since 2010 (Chad Bettis - Feb. 20) while von Schamann is just the 14th Red Raider to earn the award. It is only the fourth time during the past five years that a Tech pitcher has been named the league's top pitcher of the week.

von Schamann (Edmond, Okla.) was dominating last Friday in a complete-game, two-hitter at Kansas where he led Texas Tech to a 3-1 victory. It marked his third complete game of the season and his second in a row (vs. Oklahoma).

He struck out six and allowed a run (unearned) against the Jayhawks while issuing just one walk. He became the first Red Raider to throw back-to-back complete games since 2005 and his two hits allowed marked the fewest by a Red Raider in a complete game in over 11 years. von Schamann finished the game throwing a first pitch strike to 26-of-30 batters faced while tossing 97 pitches (74 strikes) in his nine-inning complete-game gem.

In addition, von Schamann has not allowed an earned run in 19 consecutive innings pitched, spanning both of his last two starts in Big 12 play and his final inning pitched at Baylor.



♦ And another video: The leading base stealer in the Big 12 (32-for-37) talks about his craft: The Art of the Stolen Base with Jamodrick McGruder (everythinglubbock.com)
It should be noted that McGruder has the most Stolen bases among Big 12 players, but he does not have the most stolen bases in Big 12 games. That lead (5) is shared by 5 playres, including MU's Blake Brown and Brannon Champagne.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tigers on Deck: “We want 3,000 here for Texas”

Tigers On Deck Provides Brand New Baseball Student Section (MUTV)
As Missouri transitions to the Southeastern Conference (SEC), fans know basketball and football are ready for more Southern exposure. Tigers On Deck is trying to make sure baseball fans are ready.

“From my point of view, baseball is our biggest cultural misfit,” Tigers On Deck coordinator Brandon Weiss said. He is one of the founders of the new student fan section at Mizzou baseball games.

Formed on a similar basis as Tiger’s Lair for football games and Zou Crew for basketball games, Tigers On Deck was officially announced on mutigers.com on April 16 and made its debut this past weekend, when the team hosted Kansas State for a three-game home stand.

The group is seated near the away on-deck circle, as the students hope to have a similar effect on opposing batters that a crowd has on a shooter at the free throw line or a quarterback trying to make an audible. Weiss said the “empty stadium” (Taylor Stadium) disturbed him this season, and said he thinks the students are the first ones who can change that.
. . .
“We want 3,000 here for Texas,” Weiss said.

Go ahead. Raad the whole article at http://mutv.students.missouri.edu/?p=1673

HI NOTES: Tigers > Bears; Ballhawk > Event Staff; Senne > Wall

Andreas Plackis
mutigers.com
GAME DAY

Hard luck loss for Baseball Bears (Springfield News Leader)
Andreas Plackis’ sacrifice fly produced the winning run as the Tigers (22-17) won their fourth straight and left the Bears (29-13) and Gordon tough-luck losers on the summer-like night.

“It’s always fun to come out and play Mizzou and have a good crowd and a good atmosphere,” Gordon said. “You always want to get in games like that.

“It’s just tough to lose one like that.”
Missouri baseball team uses extra innings to beat Missouri State (Columbia Missourian)
With Emens only pitching three innings, the Tigers had to go deep into their bullpen, using three other pitchers before freshman John Miles, a Rock Bridge High School graduate, picked up the win in extra innings.

Missouri hopes last win a much-needed confidence boost (lubbockonline.com)
But the Tigers have also been pulling some double duty. While the main focus has been finding success on the field, Missouri has dealt with its impending move to the Southeastern Conference, considered the premier collegiate baseball conference in the country.

Counting current Big 12 opponent Texas A&M, the Tigers are 3-3 against 2013 SEC opponents, having taken two of three from Auburn to begin the year. Missouri also has a two-game midweek series scheduled against Arkansas.

It’s off the field, however, that Jamieson has been fighting that will be more important in the future, landing recruits like Coronado infielder Paxton De La Garza.

“Not that the Big 12 and the SEC are that different, but I think, obviously, the SEC has more elite teams,” Jamieson said, “so we feel we need more elite players, and so you recruit differently. You look at different parts of the country than you have in the past. That’s all in preparation for next year ... but it doesn’t affect what’s going on this year.”
Ballhawk snags stray balls at Missouri baseball games (Columbia Missourian)
A lot goes into Joens’ ballhawking hobby.

Whether it means scaling fences, sprinting across parking lots or outwitting a kid or two, Joens is willing to do almost anything to get that elusive foul ball. He even disguises himself by staying clean-shaven and wearing ball caps and T-shirts from his high school to make himself look younger. Kids get more tosses from players.
. . .
Joens explained how he sometimes sweet talks ushers because he’s actually doing part of their job for them. Taylor Stadium ushers, and even some members of the team, usually retrieve foul balls to keep costs down. Baseballs can run anywhere from $20 to $30 per dozen. Costs can add up during the long baseball season, so teams have to be aware of losses. Some have return policies that can be a death sentence for ballhawks like Joens, but Derek Doolittle, assistant director of game operations, said Taylor Stadium’s ball policy doesn't hinder Joens.

“We try to get back as many foul balls as we can, but we don’t go and yank them out of people’s hands,” Doolittle said. “If we lose a handful, a dozen a game, it’s not the end of the world for us.”

MU IN THE MINORS

First no hitter of the season belongs to Greensboro! (hoppersfan.mlblogs.com)
Aaron Senne slammed a home run almost all the way back to Greensboro on a solo run home run in the 2nd inning for the first run of the game.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HI NOTES: Tigers & Bears, Strange Baseball

Tat-too much
thenewstribune.com
GAME DAY

Champagne delivers consistency on base paths (The Maneater)
In the team’s series versus Kansas State this past weekend at Taylor Stadium, Champagne batted .500, scored twice and secured a game-winning walk in game two. He has now reached base safely in 30 consecutive games.

“My goal every game is to get on base two to three times every game,” Champagne said. “That’s just the type of player I am. My job is to get on base and score runs.”

Slotted in the two-spot, Champagne has been the lone Tiger not to be shuffled around in the order throughout the course of the season. Coach Tim Jamieson said Champagne brings a level of consistency that benefits the team when their big bats are walking to the plate.
Voit making a big splash for Bears (Springfield News Leader)
Missouri State pitching coach Paul Evans entrusts catcher Luke Voit with most every move his staff – arguably one of the best in school history – makes during a game.

Voit calls pitches. He cajoles and scolds. He throws out would-be base stealers at a 47-percent rate.

“Luke deserves a ton of credit for our success,” Evans said of Voit, a junior who came to college known mostly for his hitting.
BASEBALL FANS

♦ Somebody please smack me upside the head if I ever become so obsessed with baseball that I tattoo my whole body with baseball images. Check out this story and the video.

BIG 12

West Virginia will apparently play their Big 12 "home games" at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston - approximately 160 miles away.

Game Day: MU @ Missouri State

Jake Powers, MSU mid-week pitcher
Springfield News-Leader
Mizzou and Missouri State have an annual home-and-away mid-week series.  Once upon a time MU had a similar agreeement with the other Di1 schools in Missouri as well - SLU and SEMO - but those have gone by the wayside.  This year's "Tigers & Bears Oh My" series begins with a game this evening in Springfield.

♦ Missouri State is 36th on the BoydsWorld..com RPI rankings.  Mizzou is 98th.

♦ The Bears are 29-12 on the season, 8-3 in the Missouri Valley.
  • The Bears lead the Mo Valley by virtue of one less loss (due to a rain-out) than Indiana State and Southern Illinois.
  • Team batting average: .279
  • Team ERA: 2.48
  • The Bears' losses have come to Tennessee Tech, Texas Tech and Houston Baptist early in the season, one non-conference loss each to Purdue, SIU-Edwardsville, ORU, and a pair of losses to Dallas Baptist; In the Valley they lost two to Bradley and one to Wichita State
  • MSU is 7-2 in mid-week games, losing the 2 to SLU and Purdue, with wins over Oklahoma State (2), Kansas and Kansas State.
♦ The Bears' Friday night ace is Nick Petree, who sports an 8-2 record and a 0.77 ERA.  Fortunately for MU, this is not a Friday, and MSU will want to save Petree for this weekend against Southern Illinois, one of the teams nipping at their heels in the MVC.
Missouri State's Golden Arms (PerfectGame.org) Subscription only
When it comes to the nation's best weekend rotations, the easy answer everyone always comes back with is, you guessed it, Florida. But while there are plenty of other premier rotations around the country, the one at Missouri State deserves its name in the ring as one of the fastest rising rotations in the land.

Though the Bears have some productive hitters, the weekend rotation is the chief reason why this team has a chance to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2003.

"If you look at the sheer numbers, this group has done just as well, or better, than some of the best staffs we've had in our program's history," Evans said. "We've been in some good situations this season, even recently allowing just one base-hit an entire weekend."

Unlike some other elite pitching staffs, the Bears don't have a staff or weekend rotation that has been dominant for a couple of seasons. Instead, this is a unit with several individuals that have either overcome some adversity in the form or injuries, or simply have developed throughout their careers into the dominant arms they are today.
Jake Powers will most likely be the starter against Missouri tonight. Powers is a redshirt sophomore from Francis Howell HS.

Powers lifts Bears to Win (Springfield News Leader, 4/12)
“Exactly what we needed,” coach Keith Guttin said after Powers worked six shutout innings Wednesday night in the Bears’ 3-0 victory over Kansas State before 669 chilled fans at Hammons Field.

Powers (2-0) allowed five hits, one walk and matched his career high with nine strikeouts as MSU improved to 25-10 with its ninth straight home victory.
. . .
Powers said teams from major conferences sometimes sit on fastballs and are baffled against an assortment of off-speed deliveries.

That was clear as he escaped out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fourth. He struck out Matt Giller on a curve and retired Mike Kindel and Jake Brown on pop flies.

The junior right-hander walked the high-wire again in the fifth after back-to-back errors put Wildcats on second and third with one out. Powers struck out cleanup hitter Wade Hinkle and induced a groundout from Blair DeBord.

“I was mixing speeds, changing up and keeping them off balance. It worked out for me,” Powers said. “They definitely were a fastball-hitting team and I was able to keep them off balance.”

♦ The Bears also have a closer, Tyler Burgess, who is on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list. He has 9 saves with a 1.07 ERA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HI NOTES: It was the Best of Times. It was the Worst of Times.

The crystal ball is unclear
UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The Good News:  Between now and the end of the regular season, MU gets to play

  • Texas Tech 3 games (22-20, 3-12 and tied for last in the Big 12; 92nd RPI), 
  • Memphis 3 games (17-23; 118th  RPI)
  • Kansas 3 games (16-25, 4-11 and 7th in Big 12; 168th  RPI)
The Bad News:  Mixed in with that schedule, Mizzou also will face
  • Missouri State 2 games (29-12; 36th  RPI)
  • Texas 3 games (23-14, 11-4 and 2nd in Big 12; 45th  RPI)
  • @ Arkansas 2 games (28-12, 9-9 and tied for 2nd in the SEC West; 16th  RPI)
Worse News:  According to the BoydsWorld.com RPI Needs Report, Missouri needs to go 16-0 to from here on out to finish in the top 45 RPI and have a shot at an at-large bid to the Regionals.

Good News:  Based on his performance against Illinois at Busch Stadium and against Kansas State this past weekend, Brett Graves looks like he's arrived as a legitimate 3rd weekend starter to take up the slack since Eric Anderson went on the shelf.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

Saturday Roundup (Baseball America)
College baseball has gone no-hitter-crazy.

Penn State's Steven Hill and Army's Logan Lee each threw no-hitters Saturday—the third and fourth Division I no-hitters in the last four days (Oregon's Jordan Spencer threw one Wednesday, and UC Irvine's Andrew Thurman threw one Friday).
Thank you Baylor, vindication is mine (College Baseball Today)
How huge-o-balls do the Bears got right now? Holy crap! The Bears complete the weekend sweep of Texas A&M with today’s 7-5 win. I couldn’t put anyone else in this position, ‘coz BU was so spot-on all weekend. And plus they make me look like some big swingin’ Johnson by having them No. 1 in my Power Rankings while everyone else had them as far down as No. 17. Egad! (Sorry, self-induced mini-rant there). The Bears also have a Big 12 record 18-game in-conference win streak and a conference-best 24-game win streak overall.

Monday, April 23, 2012

HI NOTES: Sweep and other weekend clean up

SUNDAY

Mizzou completes sweep of Kansas State with shutout (KBIA Sports Extra)
“I think they recognize that there’s still a lot of baseball to be played,” Jamieson said. “You can’t get it all back in one game or one weekend.”

Pitcher Brett Graves helped to get at least one back for the Tigers. The freshman allowed no runs in six and two-thirds innings.

Graves led the Tigers defense allowing four hits on 94 pitches. After struggling early, he settled in and took control from the mound.

“I was getting behind a couple guys, and I had to trust the defense,” Graves said. “As the game went on, I got more comfortable with the curveball and threw a couple of changeups.”
Missouri baseball team completes sweep of Kansas State (Columbia Missourian)
For the first time since early March, the Missouri baseball team has a definite No. 3 starting pitcher.

Since an injury to Eric Anderson's throwing arm on March 9, the Tigers have shuffled their Sunday starts between several pitchers, none of whom have proven to be a long-term solution.

On Sunday, freshman Brett Graves made his case in his third Big 12 Conference start by holding Kansas State scoreless over 6 2/3 innings. Behind his performance, the Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Wildcats with a 7-0 win.

♦ Missouri completes sweep of Kansas State with 7-0 shutout (The Maneater)
“Just getting a sweep under our belts for the first time this season is huge,” junior right fielder Blake Brown said.

The sweep was the Tigers’ first in Big 12 play since they took three of three from Nebraska in 2010, a stat that came as a surprise to junior left fielder Dane Opel.

“It’s been a really long time, and it just feels good to put three consistent games together,” Opel said. “I feel like everyone on the team, one through nine, everyone on the mound, they all did their job.”

To cap off the series, Missouri put together what could perhaps be described as a complete team performance.

Mizzou Baseball Links (RockMNation)
Since I'm mourning close losses with the softball team, it makes sense to do the same here: Mizzou is 3-7 in games decided by two runs or less in conference play. Just a 5-5 record would have them alone in fourth place and, at 23-15, looking pretty good for an NCAA Tournament bid. Alas.
SATURDAY
Mizzou baseball walks to victory against Kansas State (KBIA Sports Extra)
Jamieson stuck to a “one game at a time” mantra heading into Sunday’s series finale.

“It’s not so much the sweep. It’s just one more win in the win column. You’re 5-9 in the league. You’re trying to get closer to .500,” Jamieson said. “Every game you lose it’s two more games you got to win.”
A Champagne toast for Tigers (Columbia Tribune)
"The energy in the dugout was awesome," outfielder Blake Brown said. "It wasn't like we were out there getting blown away at the plate. We were putting the bat on the ball."
Tigers walk off in 4-3 victory over Kansas State (The Maneater)
Coach Tim Jamieson reiterated Champagne, saying the Missouri victory would not have been possible had it not been for the crowd’s involvement.

“They’ve got a freshman pitcher on the mound, nervous,” Jamieson said. “He had to step off because it was so loud. That’s something that we’ll hopefully continue to have. (The crowd) deserves as much credit as our players for that last run.”
♦ The double play



MU IN THE MAJORS

♦ Who Aaron Crow is and how the Royals are wasting him (Yardbarker.com) talks a lot about Crow's "speech" at Mizzou's First Pitch Celebration
Talking to Crow is like playing pinball with an unlimited amount of quarters. You rattle around on one topic, scoring points and laughs, not really knowing where you’re going, until for some reason the ball falls and misses the paddles completely. No worries though, you get another try. And another. He is The Dude minus the hair and beer belly, a vessel of nonchalantness. 
In between stories of life on the road, buddying up with first baseman Eric Hosmer and tweeting at starter Bruce Chen, Crow finally gets nostalgic. He stops for a second and takes a looks around. One of Missouri’s freshman catchers, who caught a Crow bullpen earlier in the day, walks up to him gleaming with pride. “It was an honor to catch you today,” he says. “Thanks man,” Crow responds. He’s still distracted, looking out into the Missouri night. “I used to live right there, man,” he says finally. “Right there. Urgh, what I’d do to be back here.”
. . .
Kansas City would be smart to make Crow the closer or throw him in the starting rotation. He’s a top young arm with three plus pitches, including a fastball that gets up to 98. Ned Yost called Crow a “bullpen guy” in March, telling mlb.com, “He’s more valuable, more important to us on an everyday basis in the ‘pen.” It’s baffling to think why he would regulate such electric stuff to toil in the middle innings when Royal starters boasted a 4.82 ERA last year and are led by the softest-tossing lefty this side of Jamie Moyer. In the closer’s role Soria was so unreliable in 2011 that he lost his job temporarily. Broxton could barely lift his arm all summer.

The Royals are wasting Crow on match-ups and blowouts when they could be getting real value from their former first round pick. But hey, whatever they decide to do with him, I’m sure he won’t mind.
COLLEGE BASEBALL

♦ Left on base: Despite efforts to bring baseball back to Syracuse, obstacles prevent real progress (Daily Orange)
When the Orange officially joins the Atlantic Coast Conference — right now set for the 2014-15 athletic season — it will be the only school in the 14-team league without a baseball program. Regardless of the ACC’s proud tradition and reputation as a national powerhouse on the diamond, though, SU will only be required by the ACC to field a football, men’s and women’s basketball, and either a women’s soccer or women’s volleyball team, an ACC spokeswoman said.
. . .
Syracuse University discontinued its baseball program in 1972. The school’s first interscholastic sport lasted 94 years before budgetary restrictions and a change in the academic calendar doomed America’s pastime at the university for the last 40 years.

Money and Title IX are among the main reasons baseball remains in Syracuse’s past. The cost to start a program that will likely lose money is too steep, and SU must keep an even balance of athletic scholarships for men and women. If the university adds a men’s sport, it would probably have to add a women’s sport. . .

Saturday, April 21, 2012

HI NOTES: Walk Off Win

Walk pushes Missouri baseball past Kansas State (Columbia Missourian)
Missouri center fielder Brannon Champagne, who has reached base in 29 straight games, came to the plate with a chance to win with a hit or walk. After falling behind in the count, Champagne drew a walk to give the Tigers their second straight win over Kansas State.
. . .
Champagne, a junior, took an inside pitch close to the strike zone for a ball when the count was 2-2. Missouri coach Tim Jamieson attributed Champagne's patience to his experience and knowledge of the strike zone.

"It was a good call, but it was a tough pitch to take in that situation, so it's nice to have an experienced guy up there," Jamieson said.
Tigers Tally Walk-Off, Comeback Win, 4-3 (mutigers.com)
Mizzou (20-17) put on a show for all 2,049 fans that were on hand for today's (April 21) game against Kansas State, coming back from down 3-0 to win by a final score of 4-3 with a walk-off walk in the ninth inning. The seventh-largest crowd in the history of Mizzou baseball watched as Brannon Champagne's ninth-inning walk, his third of the game, sealed the deal as Jake Ivory scored from third.

HI NOTES: Opportunity knocks

Andreas Plackis
Columbia Missourian
GAME DAY

Missouri easily handles Kansas State (Columbia Tribune)
Making his first start since Feb. 26 — and getting his first playing time of any kind since March 27 — Plackis was 3 for 3 with three runs and two RBI to help propel the Tigers to a 13-4 victory over Kansas State last night on Simmons Field.

"The great thing about Plackis is that he always works hard," said Jamieson, who added that Plackis has earned at least a couple more starts. "He's always ready — even if it's a month and a half between starts or two months between starts. He was ready tonight."
. . .
McGraw, who had gone 7 for 18 since taking over at first base, has a partially torn ligament in his thumb and will be in a cast for at least two weeks, opening the door for Plackis.

The redshirt junior — who indicated this would be his final year — led off three innings, and reached each time, scoring in the fourth and sixth innings. He added a two-run double in the seventh inning as the Tigers posted their highest run total in conference play.

"It's tough when you're moved in and out to stay focused and stay motivated, passionate about the game," Plackis said. "But I think time on the bench sometimes is character-building. What comes from that can help you produce even more on the field."

Missouri baseball routs Kansas State, ends conference losing streak (Columbia Missourian)
When Missouri baseball's first two batters struck out in the first inning in its game against Kansas State on Friday, Missouri pitcher Rob Zastryzny prepared to take the field, as he always does when there are two outs.

Instead of a quick third out and trot to the mound, however, Zastryzny watched the Tigers score four runs, thanks in part to an error by the Wildcats' first baseman on a Dane Opel ground ball.

RECRUITS

Rock Bridge tops Kewps in pitchers' duel (Columbia Tribune)
Rock Bridge right-hander Ryan Phillips (1-1) was equally impressive and even more overpowering. The returning all-state senior scattered five hits, struck out 11 and would have taken the mound for the ninth inning if Brumfield hadn't delivered.

"He was going to go out for one more," Rock Bridge Coach Justin Towe said of Phillips, who was on deck when Brumfield ended the game.

"I was hoping for Connor to get a base hit, and he did," Phillips said. "Any way to win the ballgame is what I was hoping for."

Friday, April 20, 2012

HI NOTES: Big Cats vs. Little Cats

AT THE BALLPARK


♦ It's been a rowdy week on the All Sports Board at Tigerboard.com.  Some of the regular posters there (including me), who are among the most faithful local Mizzou Baseball fans, were taken aback by attacks on our loyalty and attitude (in this post and others surrounding it).  To be specific, we were accused of :

  • "ragging on the team"
  • "crossing the line with personal attacks" against players
  • being "usually negative"
  • getting their information from "the radio and box scores" and not going to games
  • "rely on a box score for their analysis"
  • "whine on message boards"
  • being "pathetic fans"
  • "complaining about the height of the players"
  • DON'T "actually support the team, win or loose
  • DON'T "cheer them on"
  • DON'T "actually attend games"
  • DON'T "have some baseball IQ"
  • AREN'T "considered a competitive advantage for their team"
  • NOT "travelling" to away games  .
We plead guilty to the last one.

This is me, Trripleplay.
Section E, Row 4, Seat 1
I'm posting this here so that no one will think I'm trying to be one kind of fan on Tigerboard.com and another kind here at SimmonsField.com.  I also want to invite anyone to come and talk to me directly who has a problem with the way I or any of my friends conduct ourselves as fans.

I sit in Section E, Row 4, Seat 1 for nearly every home game.  I won't be there on Saturday (there are some things more important than baseball), but plan to be there tonight and Sunday.  I look forward to talking to you.

It will be interesting to see what's up with two special features at the ballpark this weekend:

  • Promotions:  This weekend, there will be plenty of promotions offered at Taylor Stadium. The series will serve as decades weekend as each game will be themed around past decades, beginning with the 1970s on Friday. Also on Saturday, a sign contest will be held for the Tigers' televised game. The best signs in the stands will win a variety of different prizes including Mizzou gear and gift cards. (mutigers.com)
TIGERS

Junior college transfer provides stability for Missouri baseball team's pitching rotation (Columbia Missourian)
The top two starting pitchers on the Missouri baseball team, Eric Anderson and Rob Zastryzny, spent their senior years of high school racking up wins, striking out batters and earning all-state honors. In his senior year, Blake Holovach stepped onto the pitching mound for the first time. . 
Holovach energizes depleted Tiger pitching (The Maneater)
Holovach’s key to fulfilling his potential, Jamieson and Hobbs said, is to develop a strong secondary pitch. Holovach throws a slider and change-up, but not at a level of consistency typical of a star pitcher. He has put in extra time to work on those pitches, but Hobbs said the process is still ongoing. “I think Blake’s ceiling is a little bit higher than anyone we have, but it’s going to take him some time,” he said.
Tigers trying to ignite offense (Columbia Tribune)
Scoring has been in short supply in Big 12 play. Missouri is scoring 4.2 runs per game while allowing 5.3 — which makes the Tigers feel like they're a bounce or two from being on the winning end of these games. Seven of the Tigers' losses against league opposition have come by two runs or fewer. Last season, Missouri hit .237 in the first 11 league games, averaging two runs. After a lineup switch put Mach at the top of the order for the last 15 regular-season league games, Missouri scored 6.5 runs per game and hit .279 as a team.
WILDCATSCats sweep Bears with 7-5 victory (Manhattan Mercury)
Hill said K-State's leading batters, Davis and Fisher — who played third base for the first time Wednesday — were instinctual at the plate. "They were just being aggressive and swinging the bats," he said. "Not a lot of thought process with those two guys. I think you can see the guys that have thought process are thinking too much and their swings aren't real good right now. "They guys that aren't thinking... there's something to be said with just being happy to be out there playing. When aren't really putting a lot of pressure on yourself, good things will happen."
K-State players head to Missouri to take on the Tigers (kstatecollegian.com)
K-State will send Matt Applegate to the mound on Friday against Zastryzny. The senior righty is 2-4 with a 5.37 ERA in nine starts. Junior Joe Flattery, a transfer from Iowa Central Community College, leads the weekend starters with a 4.57 ERA in his nine starts, accumulating a 4-2 record. Senior Kayvon Bahramzadeh leads the team with 48 strikeouts, and has a 4-1 record with a 5.19 ERA. The Wildcats have been led at the plate all season by sophomore center fielder Jared King and senior first baseman Wade Hinkle. K-State’s three and four hitters have been hot all season and are a big reason the team is hitting .294 this season. King has a .384 batting average and leads the team in doubles with nine and total bases with 75. King also carries a .459 on-base percentage and a .543 slugging percentage. Hinkle leads the team in home runs with seven, RBIs with 33, a .554 slugging percentage and a .494 on-base percentage and is hitting .355 so far. Junior infielder Tanner Witt and sophomore second baseman Ross Kivett have given K-State some speed on the base paths, combining for 36 steals.

Game Day: Kansas State Wildcats @ MU

Kayvon Bahramzadeh
Scott Weaver Photos
   
Pop Quiz:  Which team uttered the following quotes? Missouri or Kansas State?
  • "That's been the story in the Big 12 for us.  We've played just close enough to get beat. We have to step up."

  • "We executed everything we needed to except for the game-winning hit. That's very disappointing. We had fight and we had competitiveness, but now we need to get back to winning. Who can step up, get that big hit and win a game for us."

  • "It's extremely tough. Bad things are going to happen, good things are going to happen... you have to keep your head up."
Those are all quotes from the Wildcats' coach and players.  Point being, K-State has had a pretty similar up-and-down season to what the Tigers have experienced.  Both teams come into this weekend needing a Big 12 series win badly.

The Tigers have enjoyed a rare week off from mid-week ballgames, a chance to focus on late-semester schoolwork and to get their heads in the right place after a series of tough weekends int eh Big 12.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, after being swept by Baylor last weekend (sound familiar?) have played a pair of games against Northern Colorado.  They won Thursday on a walk-off double in the 9th, and won again Wednesday, 7-5.  They gave their bullpen a workout in the process.


♦ MU vs. KSU Stats
MUKSU
Batting Average
.277
.294
ERA
4.66
 5.28
RPI
.515
.525
RPI rank
122nd
102nd
Strength of Schedule
104th
81st


♦ K-State is 19-18 on the season, 3-9 in the Big 12, very similar to MU's record of 18-17 and 3-9.  The Wildcats have seen a lot of high-scoring games, even in their losses.  Their average runs scored has been 6.4 vs. their opponents' 5.9.

In the Big 12, they have gone 1-2 against each team (A@M, UT, OU) except for the Baylor Bears, who sweep everybody.  Kansas State has won only two series sweeps on the year, to the mighty pair of Hartford and Sacred Heart.

♦ Brad Hill will be coaching his 500th game as the Kansas State Head Coach on Friday at Missouri

Weekend CoMo Weather
FRI 54 /  Cloudy
SAT 64 / Mostly Sunny
SUN 70 / Sunny
Two seniors anchor Cats' pitching staff (The Mercury)
When Matt Applegate and Kayvon Bahramzadeh were freshmen, there was no expectation for NCAA tournament appearances for the Kansas State baseball program.

And that's not an unfair statement. After all, when these two pitchers were freshman, the Wildcats had never seen the NCAA tournament.

Now, Applegate and Bahramzadeh are the lone seniors and leaders of the pitching staff, and K-State is coming off three straight NCAA tournament appearances.
. . .
K-State head coach Brad Hill — who was also named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2009 — said Applegate and Bahramzadeh have put on their hard hats this season.

"They are great examples and extremely hard workers," Hill said. "That's first and foremost. It's about hard work. This isn't about coming in, punching the clock and throwing a few pitches around. It's about trying to get better every day.

"Matty's well conditioned and Kayvon is a guy that is very vocal — he's a little more vocal than Matty. Matty is a guy that you watch him go play and compete — he's a competitor. They both bring some different things to the table and they've both done a good job of helping this young pitching staff develop... and we're starting to make some strides and see some progress."
Jake Brown, Big 12 Player of the Week (3/12/12) (Big12Sports.com)
Kansas State senior shortstop Jake Brown tied a Big 12 record as part of a career week for the Wildcats. In five games last week, Brown hit .524 (11-for-24) with three doubles, one home run and 11 RBI, while also recording an .810 slugging percentage and a .545 on-base percentage.

In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Brown tied a Big 12 and school record with six hits in six at-bats, including a pair of two-RBI doubles. It was the first time since 2008 a Big 12 player had six hits in a game, while it was the first by a Wildcat since 1999. Brown followed that contest with a 2-for-4 effort in the nightcap, finishing his day by going 8-for-10 with seven RBI. Brown hit just his third career home run on Friday to begin the series, a three-run shot, and capped his week by hitting an RBI double off the right-field wall on Sunday.

Thanks to his big week, the Wildcat raised his season batting average nearly 100 points to rank seventh in the league at .364. He is also tied for eighth in hits, third in runs, fifth in RBI and seventh in on-base percentage after not seeing his name in the top 10 of those categories prior to the week.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Tip of the Cap to Kansas State Baseball

When I think of Mizzou vs. Kansas State, I think of the Tigers' LHP Rick Zagone.

Rick Zagone vs. the Wildcats
In 2007, the Tigers traveled to Manhattan, KS, in the middle of what some would say was Mizzou's best season under Tim Jamieson, a season that would climax with the Tigers hosting a Regional in Columbia.

That great Tiger team was smacked around 12-0 by the Wildcats on a frigid Friday night in the first game of the series.  MU's ace, Aaron Crow, gave up 5 runs in 5.1 innings and things went downhill fast from there.

The following day I almost feared to turn on the radio to listen to the Tigers' second game in Manhattan.  But I did tune in Tex Little and J.C. Field as I was out and about running errands that Saturday afternoon.  And by the 6th inning I let my wife go on into the mall while I stayed in the car, listening to Tex describe Rick Zagone's success at carving up the K-State hitters.
Zagone came within two outs of a no-hitter in a dominant, one-hit shutout that Missouri won 3-0. The sophomore lefthander walked four and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts to keep his season record perfect at 6-0 in what coach Tim Jamieson called a “tremendous” performance.
. . .
“After yesterday, I wanted to show our guys that I would keep the number of runs down and make it easier of them,” Zagone said. “There were a few tough situations, but I just tried to stick with the game plan.” (Columbia Missourian, 4/8/07)
Zagone was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week and the NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week for his performance.

It was one of many Tiger victories over the Wildcats during the past 100+ years.  MU holds a 165-113-1 record against KSU.

Missouri first played Kansas State Agricultural College (as it was originally known) in 1907, losing 5-2.

Kansas State joined what was then the Missouri Valley Conference in 1913 and became a part of the newly formed Big 6 in 1928, along with Missouri.  According to their record books, the only conference championships the Wildcats have ever won were in 1907, 1928, 1930 and 1933.  They are 3-6 (.333) all-time in NCAA Regionals, all those appearances in the past three years.

During the 19 year stretch from 1948 through 1966 Missouri absolutely dominated Kansas State.  MU's record vs. KSU was 41-8, a .837 winning percentage, winning those games by a cumulative 348-161 score.

Toward the end of that era, Kansas State was the victim of one of MU's no-hitters, being shut down by Dennis Musgraves on April 25, 1964.

It wasn't until 2003, though, that things began to look up for the Wildcats.   That was the year they hired Brad Hill, who had been highly successful at Central Missouri State.  He has steadily built the program up, culminating in 3 straight NCAA Regional appearances in the past three years.  Missouri, though, has still had the best of Kansas State during those three years, with a 6-2 record.

It's kind of nice, though, to see the perpetual Mildcats getting more wild and crazy.

Robert J Lipscomb
One of the most entertaining things I ever saw at a K-State-Mizzou game was the time a few years ago that Robert J. Lipscomb, known as Kansas State's #1 fan made the trip to Columbia for a series.  The loud and enthusiastic fan had made several trips to Columbia for football games, but this was the first time I had seen him at Simmons Field.  While some fans in the stands looked at him like he was a nuisance, I just smiled.  Every baseball team needs at least one maniacal fan who doesn't care what people think of his enthusiasm.

Here's a Tip of the Cap to the Kansas State Wildcats and Big 8 Baseball. May we meet again. Diamonds are forever.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where MU stands, What MU needs

Aim High
NCAA Division I Baseball -- RPI Needs Report (boydsworld.com)
This report lists the record each team would need for the rest of their schedule to finish higher than the team currently in the shown key RPI positions, those that correspond to the various seeding or at large thresholds, assuming that all other teams maintain their current winning percentage. It's highly speculative, since those RPI levels will move up or down, and the committee is highly unlikely to just take the top 8 in RPI for the national seeds, for example, but it can be useful as a rough guide. The report is updated daily around 8:30 AM CDT.

Mizzou is currently ranked 118th.  Mizzou's needs: 
• To reach the top 8, 16, or 32 RPI ranking:  Not statistically possible 
• To reach the Top 45: MU needs to go 18-1 through the rest of the season
After 35 games, MU is 18-17 (.514); 3-9 in the Big 12.
Missouri is in a 4-way tie for last place in the conference, along with Texas Tech, Kansas, and Kansas State.  All three of those teams are on MU's upcoming schedule, as is #3 Texas (ranked #21 PG Top 50).

MU's remaining schedule also includes a pair of games against Missouri State (27-10, #30 RPI, ranked 37th PG Top 50), 2 against Arkansas (25-10, #9 RPI, ranked 16th), and three games with Memphis (16-20, 96th RPI, unranked)
In 2001, after 35 games, MU was 14-21 and 2-8 in the Big 12.  That team rallied to finish the regular season at 24-30 and 11-15 in the Big 12.  If the 2012 Tigers finish this season at the same pace they did last year, they would finish at 28-26.

MU Tigers on Deck

♦ There's a newly formed Student Fan Group called Tigers on Deck. Follow them on Twitter and on Facebook.
From Facebook: We are the official student section for the Mizzou Tiger Baseball Team. Our home is under the lights of Taylor Stadium from March to May. One Team, One Field, One Mizzou.
On Twitter: S/O @mizzoufan_1 We're starting a student fan section for @MUTigerBaseball so be ready to cheer louder so the other team can still hear you!
MUTigersOnDeck: The new Mizzou student fan section for @MUTigerBaseball is getting started #Mizzou

Saturday, April 14, 2012

HI NOTES: Unitards, Heartbreak Kids, Major Progress, Proof Positive

NOT the new Football Helmet
UNIFORMS

Mizzou unveiled the new Nike "department wide branding and identity program" at halftime of the Spring Football Game today.  There is a nifty Photo Gallery of the new uniforms HERE.

Fans of Baseball will notice, however, that there are no pictured baseball uniforms (or Softball, Track, or any other Spring sport).  The explanation I received is that those uniforms are not finalized yet.  Others have suggested it's because they can't show the new Nike design while Baseball is still under the current UnderArmour contract.

None of which explains why the cool video of Max Scherzer ogling the new baseball uniform designs - the one you can still see at Mizzou All Access and that has been shown on the Taylor Stadium giant scoreboard video screen all season - included prominent and repeated use of the 4•14•12 logo, just like all those other uniform-peek videos.

Anyway, I guess we wait.

But I have given you a preview already.  The four official branding colors are the new MU Gold, Nike's signature Anthracite, Black and White.  The SimmonsField.com script at the top of this blog and the color of the links are now in the official new Gold; the main background color in the margins between the posts and the sidebars is now the official Nike Anthracite. And Black on White is, of course, what you're reading.

GAME DAY

Sooners win in second straight against Tigers (Norman Transcript)
Both teams combined for 15 hits through three innings… The Sooners are 12-5 this season when recording at least 10 hits… Jack Mayfield has reached base in 20 straight games and extended his hitting streak to nine games… Missouri’s Blake Brown extended his hitting streak to 21 games after going 1-for-5…
Dishonorable Mentions: Missouri (College Baseball Today)
These are the Heartbreak Kids. The Tigers lost a heartbreaker of a game one at Oklahoma, dropping a 6-5 decision in 10 innings. This marked the sixth loss in their seven Big 12 conference losses where they’d lost by a run or two. Poor dudes. And not only that, but the Tigers took a 5-4 win in the top of the 10th inning, only to give the game away with a pair of runs to the Sooners in the bottom part of the frame.

MU IN THE MAJORS

♦ Max Scherzer strikes out 11 but Tigers lose to White Sox 5-2 (Washington Post)
Max Scherzer had the Chicago White Sox swinging and missing most of the afternoon. The right-hander struck out 11 in six innings Friday, a performance that was a dramatic improvement over his first start this season.
. . .
“The results were better. I didn’t feel like I was as bad as after my first start,” Scherzer said.

“I made a few adjustments after that and I was able to throw the ball pretty well today. Unfortunately, I made a couple mistakes and I paid for it.”
Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer on realizing he did not have his glove: 'I was panicking' (mlive.com)
So how did Max Scherzer feel when he realized two minutes before he headed to the field for his start Saturday that he had left his glove behind in Detroit?

Scherzer said he "went into a panic attack."

"I was panicking, like, 'Whose glove am I going to use?' " Scherzer said. "(Justin) Verlander's was closest to mine, and even then it wasn't even comfortable pitching with his."
Scherzer said he tried on a handful of gloves -- "There are only so many right-handers," he said -- before he settled on Justin Verlander's.

"None of them felt right," Scherzer said. "I felt naked."
Ranger Of The Week: Ian Kinsler (CBS DFW)
To borrow an old phrase from cable channel VH1, Ian Kinsler is having the Best Week Ever.

The 29-year-old second baseman started the 2012 season strong. With one week in the books Kinsler has already hit 3 home runs, scored 9 runs and is swinging a hefty .370 average.
Numbers: Ian Kinsler 2011 vs. 2012 (ESPN)
Through eight games and 32 at-bats in 2012, Ian Kinsler has four homers and seven RBIs. The early power and run production isn't unusual. Through 32 at-bats (nine games) in 2011, Kinsler had four homers and seven RBIs. The difference: he's collecting singles and doubles too this season.

In 2011, Kinsler started 8-for-32, but four of those hits were homers. He was hitting .250, a mark that he hovered around all season, while joining the 30-30 club (30 or more homers and stolen bases).
It's hard not to be excited about these Royals (Kansas City Star)
So maybe you’ve shared what Aaron Crow used to think of the Royals: “From the outside looking in, growing up, it didn’t seem like anybody really cared.”

And maybe today you’re willing to share in his optimism: “Now, being in the organization, you can tell (winning) is what they really want to do.”

NOT BASEBALL

♦ And finally, my son took this photo an hour or two ago while storm chasing in Kansas .
Proof positive:  Kansas Sucks

HI NOTES: Sooner game finishes later

twitpic.com
Missouri baseball loses to Oklahoma after tornado delays game (Columbia Missourian) provides a Twitter-view look at the unfolding events of Friday's game (with photos)

Midseason déjà vu: Underperformances hurt Tigers again (The Maneater)
It’s also because this year’s MU baseball team is a mirror image of last year's.

In both years, the Tigers struggled to pick up wins toward the midway point of the season. Heading toward the brunt of their inter-conference play, both squads have been without junior pitching ace Eric Anderson, who is instead riding the pine while nursing an injury.

The one glaring difference this time around is his return is not expected to come anytime soon. Tim Jamieson knows how much of an impact Anderson’s absence has made.

“All you have to do is look at what happened to us last year when he came back,” Jamieson said. “He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s a competitor and he’s one of our leaders. We haven’t had him on the field for four weeks and our ball club has been different because of it, and not in a good way.”

Sooners Walk Off With 6-5 Win Over Missouri In Game One (Crimson and Cream Machine)
There are crazy games and then there is what happened on Friday night in Norman. Sooner starter Dillon Overton struck out the first batter he faced in the game and then nearly seven hours later Garrett Carey won it with a walk-off single. In between those two plays was utter chaos.

The game was suspended in the top of the second inning for a weather delay. A tornado would touchdown near the OU campus and two storms would pass through the area before the game could resume. When the game resumed Missouri's first batter, Dane Opel, went yard with a two run blast that would put the Tigers up 2-0.

Sooners return from delay to beat Tigers in extra innings (Norman Transcript)
OU faced the rain, the wind, a tornado and even a trio of late-inning errors. All will be remembered as part of a character-building, 6-5 victory over Missouri on Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The victory lifted the Sooners to 20-14 overall and 5-8 in the Big 12 Conference and came in a game that started at 3:07 p.m., but didn’t end until nearly seven hours later.

There was a 3-hour, 39-minute delay caused by the tornado that rolled over Norman earlier in the afternoon.

“It was a long day,” said Sooner designated hitter Evan Mistich, who drove in three runs, including the game-tying run in the 10th inning. “It’s a lot better when it ends like this.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Game Two at 11 AM Saturday

The Tigers lost to the Sooners, 6-5, in 10 innings, nearly 7 hours after the game began (including a 3-1.2 hour tornado interruption).  MU and OU will attempt to begin the second game at 11:00 AM on Saturday.

Wall Cloud that developed into
Norman tornado (NewsOK.com)