April 4, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis (16-11) baseball squad meets the Ole Miss Rebels (19-10) for the second time this season when the two clubs meet at AutoZone Park on Tuesday night for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. Sam Moll, who started Memphis’ first game at AutoZone Park this season, will make his third career start for the Tigers.
Tuesday’s game will be carried live on WUMR 91.7 FM with play-by-play by Jeff Brightwell. Live streaming video and live chat is available at GoTigersGo.com. Live stats are also available at GoTigersGo.com and you can follow the Tigers on Twitter (@UofMBaseball) for in-game updates.
The Tigers return to FedExPark for a key Conference USA series with Southern Miss. The three-game set starts on Friday with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Tiger Baseball will retire jerseys for Phil Clark and the late Al Brown this weekend at FedExPark. Clark’s presentation will be made prior to Saturday’s game and the retirement ceremony will take place on Sunday for the late Al Brown.
The Series With Ole Miss
The Memphis-Ole Miss rivalry is one of the longest standing series for the Tiger baseball program. The series goes way back to the 1915 season with Ole Miss holding a 94-53-1 advantage after the two clubs split the season series last year. The 94 losses to Ole Miss are the most against any opponent in Memphis baseball history, while the 53 wins are the third-most against a U of M rival. Ole Miss held Memphis to two runs and took the first meeting this season 4-2 at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. Last season at AutoZone Park, the Tigers defeated the Rebels, 6-5, thus snapping a 13-game losing skid. Since the 1999 season, Ole Miss has claimed 21 of 25 games.
Last Meeting With Ole Miss
Memphis (3-1) 000 000 020 - 2 8 0
Ole Miss (3-0) 100 021 00x - 4 10 0
In the first start of his career, senior Dane Sharp fanned three and held Ole Miss to one run on five hits in four innings, but the Tiger offense was limited to two runs on eight hits in a 4-2 defeat at Ole Miss at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. The loss was the first of the year for Memphis, who fell to 3-1.
Sharp was tagged with the loss despite a solid outing. He was bested by a stiff performance by Ole Miss starter Matt Tracy. The lefty struck out seven and held Memphis to just four hits in six innings to earn the win and push the Rebels to 4-0 on the year.
After the Tigers were unable to capitalize on a leadoff double by Drew Martinez in the top of the first, the Rebels struck for the game’s first run in the opening frame. Alex Yarbrough reached on a fielder’s choice groundball and later came around to score on an RBI-single by Matt Snyder.
Phillip Chapman, who led the Memphis offense with two hits, opened the second inning with a double. But the Tigers again were unable to bring him home. With Chapman on third and one out, freshman Bryan Picou lifted a flyball to leftfield. Chapman tagged up, but was thrown out at the plate by Rebel leftfielder Zach Kirksey.
Ole Miss extended its lead to 3-0, in the fifth, on the strength of RBI hits from Miles Hamblin and Jordan King. Kirksey made it a four-run game with solo shot to right in the seventh.
Memphis avoided its first shutout since the 2009 season with a pair of scores in the eighth. Picou and Martinez reached with consecutive singles and Jacob Wilson followed with a two-run double to the leftfield corner.
Memphis managed eight hits on the day. Martinez, Chapman and Wilson each had two hits to lead the U of M.
Getting In The Zone At AutoZone Park
In the second of three marquee matchups at AutoZone Park this season, Memphis will play its 41st game at AutoZone Park on Tuesday night. The U of M has struggled at “The Zone” since its first game in 2001, carrying a 14-26 record into the park on Tuesday. The Tigers went 1-0 at AutoZone Park last season with a thrilling 6-5 victory over 15th-ranked Ole Miss. Memphis dropped its lone game at AutoZone Park this season with a 7-3 setback to No. 13 Arkansas in front of a U of M record crowd at AutoZone Park of 5,127. The Tigers host Mississippi State on May 17 to close the three-game schedule at the Triple-A park of the Memphis Redbirds.
Zurcher Leads Nation In Hitting
With his .505 batting average, shortstop Chad Zurcher leads the nation. When the NCAA released the updated stats last Tuesday, Zurcher was hitting .480 on the season. With the pressure of being the nation’s leading hitter, Zurcher went 11-for-18 with two doubled and four RBI in the last week. Zurcher had 15-game hit streak ended on Saturday, but Zurcher reached base three times in that game and scored all three times. Zurcher has two or more hits in 17 of the 26 games he has played in and has posted four or more hits in a game twice this season. Of his 47 hits, 12 are extra-base hits (10 2B, 2 3B).
As the nation’s leading hitter with a .505 batting average, you would expect that Chad Zurcher would be on base a lot. With 16 walks, Zurcher not only hits to find his way on base, but he also leads the nation in on-base percentage. Zurcher sports a .612 on-base percentage his productive week. When the NCAA released the national leaders on Tuesday, Zurcher had a .588 on-base percentage. Zurcher has reached base two or more times in 24 of the 27 games he has played in. Zurcher has been hit by a pitch 11 times this season. If Zurcher doesn’t get on base, he will put the ball in play as he sports a .656 slugging percentage, third in C-USA. Zurcher has struck out just three times this season.
A Closer Look At Ole Miss
Ole Miss travels to the Bluff City with a 19-10 record overall after dropping two of three at SEC rival LSU last weekend. The Rebels have outscored their opponents 159-98 on the season and the pitching staff carries a 2.84 ERA on the mound. Ole Miss ends a eight-game road swing on Tuesday at AutoZone Park. On the roadtrip, the Rebels are 3-4 and Ole Miss has outscored its opponents 45-27 in those games. The Rebels have had seven of their last games decided by four runs or less. Tanner Mathis leads the club with a .359 batting average and his 23 RBI. Matt Smith leads the squad with five home runs and Ole Miss has four players hitting above .300. On the mound, Ole Miss has 13 pitchers with an ERA below 4.00 and starter Matt Tracy carries a 3.41 ERA into Tuesday’s game.
On The Clock
With the new bats this year in college baseball, one trend to follow this season is length of game. Memphis averages a game duration of 2:37 this season. Game times averaged 3:01 at this point last season. Memphis has played five games lasting over three hours and the shortest nine-inning game has been played in 2:06 at East Carolina on March 25. The longest game was played on March 23 against Arkansas in 3:25.
When looking closer at the time of games, Memphis has needed some timely hitting. The Tigers have come through this season with two outs as the offense has produced 76, two-out RBI this season. The U of M had 55, two-out RBI at this point last season and was batting .285 (74-260) with two outs. The Tigers have a .320 (96-300) average with two outs this year. After a 10 game stretch saw the Tigers hit just .250 with 18, two-out RBI, Memphis got back on track this weekend, hitting .361 (13-36) with 14 two-out RBI. Memphis has 16 home runs this season and eight have come with two outs in an inning. Chad Zurcher leads the Tigers with 12, two-out RBI on the season. Jacob Wilson and T.J. Rich are second with 11, two-out RBI each. Needing a key hit with runners in scoring position was a struggle for the Tigers over a seven game stretch, including games at East Carolina. In that stretch, the Tigers had just 14 hits in 58 plate appearances (.241) with runners in scoring position. In the three-game sweep of Alcorn State, the U of M was 23-of-51 (.451) with runners in scoring position.
New Bats Catching Up To Tigers??
Although college baseball switched to the new BBCOR bats, the Memphis offense got off to a hot start at the plate, but the Tiger offense has sense been held in check when compared to last season’s numbers. After averaging more than five hits per game higher, Memphis has eight (287) fewer hits than it did at this point last season (295). The Tigers are minus one with 16 home runs compared the 2010 squad that had 17 at this point last season. The Tigers have scored double-digit runs in 10 games and pounded out double-digit hits in 15 games. The Tigers have cut down on the strikeouts with 51 fewer strikeouts than a season ago and the U of M has walked 27 more times than the 2010 club after 27 games.
Chad Zurcher continues to climb the charts for hits in a career as he moved to seventh with 209 career hits. Zurcher needs just two hits to tie for sixth. Drew Martinez, Adam McClain, Jacob Wilson and Chad Zurcher are quickly approaching top-10 marks as well. With 195 career hits, Martinez needs just two base hits to tie for eighth.
"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”
As the B.J. Thomas lyric goes, rain drops keep falling on Tiger Baseball. Memphis has already had two rain outs this season. The rain out with Oral Roberts on March 4 will be made up as Arkansas-Pine Bluff will visit FedExPark for a 6:30 p.m. game on May 10. The rained out game with Auburn on March 9 will not be made up, but head coach Daron Schoenrock added a game with Mississippi Valley State on March 30 to make up the rain out. Memphis will now play a doubleheader with MVSU. The Tigers schedule was changed once again with anticipated rainfall in the Greenville, N.C. area as the Tigers played a doubleheader against East Carolina on March 26.
Tigers Capture Program Victory No. 1600
With the recent research gathered by Memphis stat historian John Guniozzo, the Tiger baseball program claimed win No. 1600 all-time on March 12 in game two of the doubleheader against Saint Peter’s. After fielding a team for the first time in 1913, Memphis has a record of 1608-1210-16 all-time.
Senior southpaw Ryan Holland leads Conference USA with seven pick-offs this season. Holland has picked off two base runners in two of his outings (Kennesaw State and Saint Peter’s) and added another against Eastern Kentucky , Eastern Illinois and Alcorn State. As a pitching staff, Memphis leads C-USA with 14 pick offs.
The Tigers continue a 10-game homestand this weekend and the friendly confines of FedExPark have been generous to the Tigers. Memphis has played very well at home this season, sporting a 10-5 record. The U of M is 30-14 at FedExPark and has won 19 of the last 22 games at the renovated ballpark. In head coach Daron Schoenrocks’ tenure, the Tigers are 75-75 at home.
In Like A Lamb, Out Like A Lion
As the saying normally states, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but for Tiger Baseball it has had the opposite effect. After a 5-2 record in February, the U of M was 8-9 in March. April should be good for the Tigers as they will play 15 of the scheduled 20 games on the monthly calendar in the Bluff City. The Tiger bats were warm in February as the Tigers hit .354 on the month, but the bats cooled off in March with the Tigers carrying a .280 average. So far in April, the Tigers are hitting .404 as a club. Memphis had just three errors in February, but March saw the Tigers defense collect 17 errors. Under head coach Daron Schoenrock, the U of M is 50-63 in the month of April with the best record coming in the 2007 season at 12-5.
All We Need Is Four Runs
The U of M pitching staff sports a 3.82 ERA this season and when the Tigers score four or more runs, Memphis is 15-0 and when scoring less than four Memphis is 1-11. The Tigers pitching staff had plenty of run support last weekend as Memphis posted 45 runs in the three-game sweep of Alcorn State. The 45 runs scored by the Tigers in the three-game set were the most since the 1994 squad scored 59 runs against Dayton. Memphis has scored 188 runs this season and 44 percent (83-188) have come in the two series the Tigers cored 35 or more runs (Evansville and Alcorn State).
Get The Lead-Off Man On Base
Numbers support the notion that getting a leadoff batter on base increases the likelihood of scoring runs in an inning. That has certainly been the case for the Tigers in 2011. Memphis has put its leadoff batter on base 44 percent (100-228) of the time and when the leadoff man reaches base, Memphis has scored 46 runs. In the three game set with Alcorn State, the leadoff man reached 13 times and scored 11 times. Tiger leadoff man Drew Martinez has reached base in 21 of his 43 (.488) plate appearances as a leadoff hitter. Chad Zurcher sports a 16-for-23 (.696) mark as a lead-off man.
Let’s Get Some Runs
As the former Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray would say during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley Field, the Tigers are in need of some runs following the seventh inning stretch. Of the 188 runs scored this season, the U of M has scored 22 after the seventh inning. When leading after seven innings, Memphis is 16-1 and when the game is tied or the Tigers trail, Memphis is 0-9 this season.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Comparing stats from this season to last shows some improvement in some key areas for the Tigers this season. Most notably, the Tigers have a .978 fielding percentage this season compared to .956 this time a year ago. With 22 errors this season, Memphis has improved its error total from 45 a season ago and allowed just 13 unearned runs compared to 38 this time a year ago. On the mound, the U of M has shaved off nearly two runs per game off its ERA with a 3.82 team ERA compared to 5.58 this time last season. After getting off to a hot start at the plate, the Tigers have nearly identical numbers as last season with a .316 batting average. The largest statistical difference with the 2011 club compared to the 2010 squad is the run differential. The 2010 squad was minus eight after 27 games and this year’s club is plus 75
(Thru 27 games)
Getting Off The Schneid
When looking closer at Memphis’ recent struggles scoring runs, the lack of hitting when runners are in scoring position are where the struggles begin. In the C-USA opening series at East Carolina, the Tigers were 5-of-24 (.208) with runners in scoring position. On the season, the U of M is hitting .326 (108-331). The Tigers hit .451 (23-51) in the three-game sweep of Alcorn State.
Walking In Memphis
Memphis has taken 122 walks this season and took the free base 33 times in the first six games. Jacob Wilson and Chad Zurcher have each tied a single-game record with four walks in a game this season. T.J. Rich leads the club with 17 walks and Chad Zurcher is second on the squad with 16. Three other Tigers have taken the free base 10 or more times.
Now in his seventh year at the helm of the Memphis baseball program, head coach Daron Schoenrock claimed his milestone 150th win as the Tigers’ skipper on Feb. 20th against Evansville. Schoenrock passed the late Al Brown at No. 3 on Memphis’s all-time coaching wins ledger with his 157th career victory on March 15 against UT Martin. Schoenrock needs only 12 more wins to reach a 200th career victory.
Double Your Pleasure
Phillip Chapman leads the club with 12 doubles this season. As a team, Memphis has 65 doubles this season. Chad Zurcher is second on the team with 10 doubles. Chapman ranks tied for second in C-USA with his 12 doubles.
Chap Is Back
Senior catcher Phillip Chapman showed no ill-effects of the season-ending forearm injury he suffered in the final series of the 2010 regular season. In his first action since the injury, the Clinton, Miss., native led Memphis with three hits and four RBI against Evansville on Feb. 19 and came back for three more hits in game two of the series. Chapman is batting .361 this season to go with 58 total bases. He has 35 hits and 18 RBI.
The Tiger duo of Drew Martinez and Chad Zurcher are back in form after leading the Tigers to its first Conference USA Tournament appearance since 2007. Both players were honored as 2011 Preseason All-C-USA performers. The Tigers All-C-USA tandem, which combined for 190 hits, 113 runs, 39 stolen bases and a .388 batting average in 2010, picked up where they left off, batting .412, with 84 hits and 51 runs scored this year. The duo has claimed 22 steals on the base paths and has 21 extra-base hits.
All In The Family
This year’s edition of Tiger baseball showcases a unique twist for head coach Daron Schoenrock. This roster features a second Schoenrock, as Daron’s son Erik is a freshman left-handed pitcher on the 2011 squad. Erik earned a win against Saint Peter’s on March 13 to give his father his 156th win at the U of M. With that win, Daron tied the late Al Brown for third all-time on Memphis’ coaching wins ledger.