COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri baseball embarks on the first of two consecutive Southeastern Conference weekend road trips, kicking off a three-game set against No. 4/9 South Carolina with a 6 p.m. (CT) contest at Founders Park on Friday (March 24).
The No. 15/21 Tigers (17-3, 3-0 SEC) enter the series riding a six-game win streak following their 8-3 victory over Kansas at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday. Mizzou swept No. 4 Tennessee in its opening SEC series last weekend in Columbia, giving it its first 3-0 start to an SEC season since 2015.
South Carolina (20-2, 3-0 SEC) turned in a road sweep of Georgia last weekend, before dropping a midweek contest to Charlotte on Tuesday.
Each of this weekend’s games will be broadcast on KTGR AM/FM, with Tex Little and Matt Michaels describing the action. Both Friday and Sunday contests will be televised live on the SEC Network, with Dani Wexelman and Gregg Olson calling the action, and Saturday’s game will be streamed live on SECN+.
- Friday-RHP Chandler Murphy (Mizzou) vs. RHP Will Sanders (South Carolina)
- Saturday-LHP Ian Lohse (Mizzou) vs. RHP Noah Hall (South Carolina)
- Sunday-TBD (Mizzou) vs. RHP Jack Mahoney (South Carolina)
- Friday’s series opener will mark the 31st meeting in the series between Mizzou and South Carolina.
- The Gamecocks bring a 17-13 all-time edge vs. the Tigers into the weekend, including a 10-2 mark against Mizzou at home.
- Last year, the Tigers took two of three from the Gamecocks in Columbia, Mo., marking their fourth straight home series win over USC.
MEET THE TIGERS
- Missouri is off to its best start to a season since 2017, bringing a 17-3 overall mark into Friday’s game.
- The Tigers have won six in a row and are ranked as high as No. 15 (Collegiate Baseball) in the national polls this week, including a No. 21 ranking from the NCBWA.
- Mizzou’s 2023 roster features a heavy helping of talent from within the state of Missouri’s borders, with 16 players from the Show-Me State.
- Additionally, Mizzou head coach Steve Bieser has brought in players from a total of 16 different states, plus the territory of Puerto Rico.
- Ross Lovich is hitting a club-best .405 clip, despite being limited to 11 games due to injury.
- Hank Zeisler has been the Tigers’ most consistent power threat and run producer, totaling nine home runs and 29 RBIs to date.
- Chandler Murphy turned in a string of 16.1 consecutive scoreless innings, Feb. 23-March 10, and has won three decisions in a row (since March 4).
- Zach Franklin leads the club with four victories and 35 strikeouts in seven appearances.
- As a team, the Tigers are batting .300 and have outhomered the opposition by a 29-14 count through the first 20 games of the season.
- The Mizzou pitching staff has logged double-digit strikeout totals in 14 of its 20 games and ranks 17th nationally in team ERA (3.49).
MEET THE GAMECOCKS
- Under the direction of first-year head coach Mark Kingston, South Carolina enters the series having won 20 of its 22 games to date.
- The Gamecocks swept Georgia last weekend to open SEC play, but dropped a Tuesday nonconference tilt with Charlotte for their first setback since March 3.
- South Carolina has put up some impressive power numbers, slugging .601 as a team entering the weekend with 56 home runs.
- Gavin Casas (12 HR) leads a contingent of four different Gamecocks who have hit at least nine homers this season.
- Ethan Petry leads USC with a .434 batting average and 31 RBIs, in addition to nine home runs.
- Braylen Wimmer has been a force for the Gamecocks as well, hitting .363 while swiping 13 bases in 13 attempts.
- On the mound, Noah Hall has logged a 4-0 start to go along with a 2.59 ERA and 31 K’s in five starts.
- The Gamecocks other two weekend starters, Jack Mahoney (3-0, 2.67 ERA) and Will Sanders (2-1, 4.18 ERA) have each fanned a team-leading 32 hitters on the season.
- As a staff, USC ranks seventh nationally in ERA (2.70) with 220 strikeouts in 190.0 combined innings.
- Mizzou cracked the national rankings for the first time this season Monday, peaking at No. 15 overall in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s poll.
- The Tigers also broke into Baseball America’s Top 25 at No. 18, secured the No. 21 spot in both the NCBWA and USA Today Coaches polls and ranked 22nd in D1Baseball’s survey.
- This week’s recognition marks Mizzou’s first regular-season top 25 ranking since May 2019.
- The Tigers enter the weekend at No. 18 in the NCAA Division I RPI ratings as well.
HOW SWEEP IT IS
- Missouri wrapped up its 12-game home stand with a three-game sweep of defending SEC champ Tennessee over the weekend.
- The Tigers outscored the No. 2/4 Volunteers by a 23-6 margin in the SEC opening series for both clubs.
- Trevor Austin paced Mizzou against UT, hitting .556 (5-for-9) with four runs scored and four RBIs in the series.
- The sweep—the Tigers’ first against a ranked SEC foe since joining the conference in 2013—gave Missouri its first in an SEC opening series since 2015, when its swept Georgia on the road.
- The Tigers also notched their first sweep of Tennessee since 2017.
- Luke Mann continued his climb up the Mizzou home run chart, hitting his 32nd and 33rd career round-trippers against Texas Southern (March 4-5) to move into sole possession of the No. 9 spot on the list.
- Mann needs two more long balls to catch Ryan Stegall and Dave Silvestri in the No. 7 position on the chart.
- The St. Louis native saw his career-best 12-game hit streak (Feb. 24-March 15) end in Friday’s SEC opener with Tennessee.
- The fifth-year third baseman hit .400 (18-for-45) with four homers and 11 RBIs during his hit streak.
- Mann was tabbed for first-team preseason laurels, becoming the first Tiger honoree since Kameron Misner’s second-team selection five years ago.
- Mann’s 17 blasts were the most by a Tiger since Cody Ehlers hit 18 round-trippers in 2004.
HAMMERIN’ HANK HONORED…AGAIN
- Graduate first baseman Hank Zeisler was honored by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper with one of its national player of the week honors for the second time in four weeks on Monday.
- Zeisler homered three times in last Wednesday’s win over Lamar, becoming the first Tiger to do so in a game since 2017.
- The Kendfield, Calif., native was previously honored by CBN on Feb. 27 after homering in each of Mizzou’s four games at FIU (Feb. 23-26).
- Zeisler’s string of home runs in four consecutive games is believed to be the longest by a Tiger since 2001, when Ryan Stegall homered in four straight contests (April 28-May 5).
WHAT A RELIEF
- Mizzou’s pitching staff is off to a blazing hot start, with 14 double-digit strikeout totals in its first 20 games.
- With 217 K’s to date, the Tigers are on pace to shatter the program’s single-season record for strikeouts (559 in 2019).
- The Tigers rank seventh nationally as a staff in strikeouts per nine innings (11.8).
- Mizzou’s team WHIP of 1.11 ranks 10th among all Division I pitching staffs, while the Tigers’ two shutouts on the season rank 30th nationally.
- As a staff, the Tigers have limited the opposition to a collective .187 batting average, with nine different pitchers logging averages against of .200 or less.
- Individually, Zach Franklin’s four wins are tied for 10th among all Division I pitchers.
- Rorik Maltrud has been dominant as well, ranking among the national leaders in WHIP (0.58), walks allowed per nine innings (0.95) and hits allowed per nine innings (4.26).
- Mizzou head coach Steve Bieser is in his seventh year guiding the Tigers, entering the weekend with a 175-134-1 record as MU’s bench boss.
- Bieser topped the 300-victory mark with Mizzou’s 10-4 win at FIU on Feb. 25, and enters Friday’s game with a career 313-231-1 mark in 11 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
- The Tigers have finished with an overall record above .500 in five of Bieser’s six seasons.
- Bieser’s 104 wins from 2017-19 were the most ever by a Mizzou baseball coach in his first three campaigns.
- Additionally, Bieser’s win total marked the winningest three-year stretch by the Tigers since 2008-10 (103 victories).
- Mizzou produced 39 wins in Southeastern Conference play from 2017-19 as well, marking its top three-year stretch in league play since joining its new conference in 2013.
FOLLOW THE TIGERS
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