Thursday, February 28, 2013

MIZZOU MATCHUP: Northwestern University Wildcats


Head Coach: Paul Stevens
(615-741-6 in 26th year at Northwestern)

Taylor Stadium – Columbia, MO

  • Friday @ 6 PM CT
  • Saturday @ 2 PM CT
  • Sunday @ 1 PM CT

Northwestern (4-2, 0-0 Big 10) @ Missouri (0-6, 0-0 SEC)

Mizzou opens their home schedule this weekend against Big 10 opponent Northwestern. The Tigers are still looking for their first win of the young season, as they have been swept by both Southern Mississippi and Memphis over the past two weekends. Northwestern did not finish well last season, finishing with an 18-36 record, 6-18 in the Big 10, which was last in the conference. The team has only been to the College World Series once in its history, coming in 1957. This season, the Wildcats have only played one true road game, coming at Lipscomb last weekend.

The Batters

DH/P Zach Morton has been the team’s most valuable player so far this year, getting it done at the plate and on the mound. The senior has started this season hitting .304, and has 2 doubles, a homer, 7 RBIs, and 12 total bases all of which are team bests. Look for Morton to be the Friday starter as well, but more on that later.

The duties behind the plate will be taken care of by junior Jake Straub. Straub has started in 5 of the 6 games for the Wildcats so far this year; matching the amount of starts he made all of 2012. In his small sample last year, he hit .286 (6-for-21), all of his hits coming as singles. This year he has gotten off to a slow start, only collecting 2 hits in 10 at-bats. Behind the plate he has yet to catch a baserunner, as there have been 6 stolen bases off of him.

Senior first baseman Jack Havey has held down the cleanup spot in the order in all six games so far the season, reaching base in all games so far, showing a vast improvement over his 2012 stats. Although the season is still young, Havey has started hitting .381 with only 2 K’s in 25 plate appearances. This is the same trend he showed last year, when he only struck out 26 times in his 52 games. He also tied for the team lead with 5 homers.

Preseason All-Big 10 Second Team senior Kyle Ruchim started all 54 Wildcat games in 2012 and on opening day this season he went 4-for-4. But a separated shoulder that will most likely keep him out of this weekend’s games derailed the promising start. Coach Stevens is confident that he will return before conference play starts, but losing him will be a major setback for now.

Shortstop Trevor Stevens is looking to have a big year after missing all of 2012 due to injury. There was a lot of promise from him after he earned a Third Team All-Conference spot. Stevens was deadly with runner in scoring position, hitting .419 in those situations. As their leadoff hitter, he has gotten a hit in all but one game, but has no multi-hit games. He also leads the team striking out 8 times.

Left and centerfield has been very consistent for Northwestern, the starters being Walker Moses and Luke Dauch respectively. Moses has gotten off to a great start, hitting .346 and hasn’t missed an inning yet all season. Dauch has also enjoyed his successes, hitting .333. Both players have the same weakness, striking out a combined 13 times to their 4 walks.

Projected Lineup
SS Trevor Stevens .200
LF Walker Moses .346
DH/P Zach Morton .304
1B Jack Havey .381
CF Luke Dauch .333
RF Josh Perlmutter .444
3B Colby Everett .176
C Jake Straub .200
2B Antonio Freschet .222
The Pitchers

On Friday the Tigers will have to prepare for Zach Morton, who has been nothing short of stellar in his first two outings. He has thrown 14 innings in his two starts, giving up only 2 ER, good for a 1.29 ERA. Hitters are only hitting .163 against him, and he has only let up one extra base hit in his two starts.

Northwestern’s number two starter and Preseason Second Team All-Conference pitcher Brandon Magallones has struggled to start the year. His last start was much better than his first, going 7 innings giving up 3 ER on only 1 walk.

Luke Farrell was magnificent in his only start so far this year and that may have earned him the nod on Sunday. In 6 innings against Lipscomb, he did not give up a single run while striking out a career-high 12 batters. He finished last season similar, having a mere 2.18 ERA in his final 14 appearances.

Projected Matchups

  • Friday: Rob Zastrynzny (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Zach Morton (2-0, 1.29 ERA)
  • Saturday: Brett Graves (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Brandon Magallones (1-1, 4.63 ERA)
  • Sunday: Eric Anderson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Luke Farrell (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Matchup Wrap-up

Zach Morton and Luke Farrell have been hard for hitters to figure out this year, and they don’t give up a lot of walks. The Tigers will have to bank on their pitching to get the job done. If Zastrynzny continues to pitch like he has been, it will be a long day in the series opener. Brett Graves has been great so far for Mizzou, but with nothing to show for it because the offense has yet to get things going so far this year. The bats really need to get going this weekend, as they are running into some very solid pitching.

Other SEC games this weekend

Tulane @ Alabama 3/1-3
Eastern Illinois @ Auburn 3/1-3
Miami (FL) @ Florida 3/1-3
UAB @ Georgia 3/1-3
Akron @ #11 Kentucky
#8 Ole Miss @ Florida International 3/1-3
St. Joseph’s @ #5 Mississippi State 3/1-3
#7 South Carolina vs. Clemson 3/1-3
Illinois-Chicago @ #2 Vanderbilt 3/1-3

Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, AZ
#3 Arkansas vs. Arizona State 2/28, 3/2
#3 Arkansas vs. Gonzaga 3/1
#3 Arkansas vs. Pacific

LSU Tournament 2 in Baton Rouge, LA
#9 LSU vs. Brown 3/1-2
#9 LSU vs. Nicholls State 3/3

Irish Baseball Classic in Cary, NC
Tennessee vs. Notre Dame 3/1
Tennessee vs. Massachusetts 3/2
Tennessee vs. 25 Virginia Tech 3/3

Houston College Classic in Houston, TX
Texas A&M vs. Houston 3/1
Texas A&M vs. #13 Rice 3/2
Texas A&M vs. #1 North Carolina 3/3

Rankings from Baseball America

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