Thursday, March 7, 2013
MIZZOU MATCHUP: San Francisco Dons
(402-407 in 15th season at San Francisco)
Taylor Stadium – Columbia, MO
Friday @ 6 PM CT
Saturday @ 2 PM CT
Sunday @ 1 PM CT
San Francisco (5-7, 0-0 WCC) @ Missouri (2-6, 0-0 SEC)
The Tigers are looking to build on their two-game sweep of Eastern Michigan during the week, giving them their first two victories of the season. The San Francisco Dons come into the series at 5-7, but they have played some tough opponents so far. All but two of their games have come against teams with records above .500 including last weekend where they dropped 2 of 3 to No. 20 Arizona. San Francisco is 4-4 on the road this year.
Third baseman Bob Cruikshank has been a pleasant surprise for the Dons so far this season. He has emerged as one of their best hitters, being one of only three players that have started in each of the team’s first 12 games. His .341 average includes a team high 6 doubles. One thing that can be exploited by Tiger pitching is his impatience at the plate. He is the only regular starter yet to draw a walk this season while racking up 9 Ks.
Sophomore Derek Atkinson has been solid in the middle of the order as well. Although he is hitting .333 this year, his tendencies are unlike a regular 3-hole hitter. Of his 11 hits, only one of them has been for extra bases.
In order for the Dons to enjoy success this year, they need more production out of leadoff man Justin Maffei. The Preseason All-WCC centerfielder is hitting .196 early this season after finishing the 2012 campaign leading the team with a .315 average. When he gets on the base paths, he is dangerous. He had 11 more steals than anybody else in the WCC last season (24).
Their, by far and away, best hitter is DH Zachary Turner. The 2010 and 2012 Junior College All-American player of the year has absolutely torn the cover off the ball this year leading the team in average (.435), RBIs (12), and slugging (.522). He comes into the series with a modest 4 game hitting streak. He, much like the rest of his teammates, is very impatient at the plate, with 12 Ks to his 4 walks.
CF Justin Maffei .196
2B Jason Mahood .156
LF Derek Atkinson .333
DH Zachary Turner .435
RF Bradley Zimmer .237
3B Bob Cruikshank .341
1B Brendan Hendriks .158
SS Josh Miller .263
C Ryan Matranga .160
San Francisco’s second Preseason All-WCC player has struggled just as much as their first. This one is ace Abe Bobb. He finished 2012 with an 8-4 record and a low 2.18 ERA, but 2013 has been a different story. He has earned a loss in all 3 of his appearances so far and that is paired with a 8.71 ERA. His control is not the issue as he has only surrendered 4 walks, he has just struggled to get outs as opponents are hitting .356 against him in his 10.1 innings of work.
My projected Saturday starter, Alex Balog, has been the team’s best starter so far. He has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 2.14. His 11 Ks lead the Dons, and has helped hold opposing hitters to a .197 opponent average.
Their most impressive pitcher so far is reliever Haden Hinkle. He is second on the team with 17 innings pitched, even though he has not started a game for the Dons. He has only given up one extra base hit so far as well, which is the reason why he has only given up one run all year (0.53 ERA).
Friday: Rob Zastryzny (0-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Abe Bobb (0-3, 8.71 ERA)
Saturday: Brett Graves (0-1, 3.18 ERA) vs. Alex Balog (1-1, 2.14 ERA)
Sunday: Eric Anderson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Sheldon Lee (0-1, 4.66 ERA)
Tiger pitchers need to go right after the San Francisco lineup. They cannot allow mistakes to the top and bottom of the order, as the Dons get all their production from the middle of the order. Hitters 1-2 and 7-9 have a combined batting average of .179. This needs to be taken advantage of and exploited or else they will pay because the middle of the order (hitters 3-6) has combined for an average of .342. Tiger offense will have no choice but to swing away. The San Francisco pitching does not strike very many people out, but they do not walk batters either. They rely on their defense which has backed them up so far this year, committing only 14 errors.
Other SEC games this weekend:
Alabama @ Louisville 3/8-10
San Diego State @ (16) Arkansas 3/7-10
Brown @ Auburn 3/8-10
Indiana @ Florida 3/8-10
Liberty @ Georgia 3/8-10
Michigan State @ (11) Kentucky 3/8-10
Washington @ (8) LSU 3/8-10
Lipscomb @ (7) Ole Miss 3/8-10
Central Arkansas @ (3) Mississippi State 3/8-10
Rider @ (6) South Carolina 3/8-10
Alcorn State @ Tennessee 3/8-10
Texas A&M @ (10) Cal State Fullerton 3/8-10
(2) Vanderbilt @ (15) Oregon 3/8-10
Rankings from Baseball America