May 12, 2011
Complete Game Notes
HOUSTON, Texas - The University of Memphis baseball team (26-21, 9-9 C-USA) concludes a six-game road trip with a three-game series at No. 19 Rice (33-16, 12-6 C-USA). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.
The Tigers will have Dan Langfield on the bump Friday in the series opener. Ryan Holland gets the start on Saturday and Clayton Gant will toe the rubber in the series finale Sunday.
CBS Sports Network will be at Reckling Park this weekend to telecast the final two games of the series. Games on Saturday and Sunday will be taped and aired at a later time using new broadcasting and equipment formats. Rice will provide a live stream of each game on their website and those links are available on GoTigersGo.com.
Each game this weekend will be carried live on WUMR 91.7 FM with play-by-play by Jeff Brightwell. Live chat and stats are available at GoTigersGo.com and you can follow the Tigers on Twitter (@UofMBaseball) for in-game updates. A live stream of each game can be seen on RiceOwls.com.
The Tigers return to the Bluff City for the final four games of the season. Memphis meets Mississippi State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at AutoZone Park before closing the season at FedExPark with a three game series against Houston.
The Series With Rice
Rice has dominated the all-time series 15-4 since the entering Conference USA in 2006. The Owls won each of the first eight meetings, before Memphis got a pair of homers in the C-USA Tournament to claim a 2-1 win to push the Tigers to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007. Rice has since won six of the last eight meetings. Memphis won its first regular season game against Rice in 2009, when it took the series opener, 10-7 in Houston. Rice has been ranked in the top 20 in every game of the series. Memphis is 1-6 at Reckling Park against the Owls.
The Inside Edge
With an RPI of 12 entering the weekend series, Rice is in a position to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament. At 33-16 on the season, the Owls have helped coach Wayne Graham to a 900th career win and sit at 12-6 in league play. Offensively the Owls are led by National Player of the Year Anthony Rendon who sports a .327 average, four home runs, 29 RBI and an astounding 66 walks on the season. Three other players hit above .300 and as a club, Rice is hitting .280. Defensively, Rice carries a .967 fielding percentage and has allowed 46 unearned runs on 66 errors. On the mound, freshman Austin Kubitza, Friday's starter, leads the way with a 1.85 ERA in 73 innings pitched. Expected to start on Saturday, Matthew Reckling carries a 4-1 record and a 2.66 ERA in 61 innings. Sunday's starter John Simms has made seven starts and carries a 2.63 ERA in 51 1/3 innings. Out of the pen, closer Tony Cingrani has eight saves in 25 appearances and carries a 1.99 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. Tyler Duffey has made 22 appearances and sports a 3.27 ERA in 41 1/3 innings.
Zurcher Among Best Hitters Nationally
With his .456 batting average, shortstop Chad Zurcher has regained the national lead in batting average. After leading for four-straight weeks, Zurcher went 4-for-28 performance over six games which dropped his average from .531 to .454. Since he dropped to .454, Zurcher is 9-for-19 over his last six games. On the season, Zurcher has two or more hits in 24 of the 45 games he has played in and has posted three or more hits in a game nine times this season. Of his 73 hits, 19 are extra-base hits (17 2B, 2 3B). As a freshman, Zurcher hit .267 and had 51 hits in 53 games played. Last season, Zurcher hit .400 and collected 93 hits.
As one of the top hitters in the nation, you would expect that Chad Zurcher would be on base a lot. With 31 walks, Zurcher not only hits to find his way on base, but he leads the nation in on-base percentage at .569. Zurcher has reached base two or more times in 38 of the 45 games he has played in. Zurcher has been hit by a pitch 15 times this season. If Zurcher doesn't get on base, he will put the ball in play as he sports a .588 slugging percentage. Zurcher has struck out just nine times this season.
Current Tigers Vs. Rice
Of the current players on the Memphis roster, just eight have played against the Rice Owls. Chad Zurcher has the most experience against Rice, with a .410 average in 39 at bats against the Owls. Zurcher has five doubles and a triple in nine games against Rice and he has also stole three bases. Drew Martinez has a .348 average against Rice and Jacob Wilson (.250) and Phillip Chapman have also had some success against Rice. On the mound, Ryan Holland has pitched three times against the Owls and has allowed 12 runs, eight earned in 12 innings pitch. Of the 12 innings pitched, 6 2/3 have been while starting and he had a 5 1/3 relief outing in 2009. Dan Langfield earned a win against Rice last season, pitching 3 2/3 innings in relief and allowing one run on six hits. Dane Sharp has pitched once against the Owls and allowed two runs on six hits in one inning of work.
Although the U of M has dropped six of its last nine games, the Tigers are 22-13 in weekend series. The Tigers have four weekend sweeps this season, the most in a season since the 1994 squad had seven three-game sweeps and posted a 52-11 record. The 2011 club is only the fifth team in program history to record four sweeps in a season. The 1994 squad holds the record at seven sweeps and the 1981 team had five sweeps and finished that season 48-11-1. In 1977, the Tigers had four sweeps and finished the season at 34-14. The 2007 squad posted four sweeps and finished with a 36-27 record.
Memphis earned a series sweep at UAB April 16-17 and the last time the Tigers earned a series sweep at UAB was in the 2007 season. Memphis entered that series at 19-14 on the season after dropping a midweek home-and-home series to Murray State. The U of M travelled to Young Memorial Field this season with an identical 19-14 record and left with a 22-14 record. After 15 conference games in 2007, the squad had a 9-6 C-USA record and this season the Tigers are 8-7. One difference from the 2007 mirror image is that of the remaining three league series, two of the three are on the road, while the 2007 squad played two of three at home. The 2007 club finished 3-6 in league play over the final three series.
Golden Spikes Award Watch List
USA Baseball announced the midseason watch list for the 2011 Golden Spikes Award this week and shortstop Chad Zurcher was one of three C-USA players listed. Zurcher is one of 23 players added since the preseason list was released on Feb. 17. Zurcher is the first Tiger baseball player to appear on the Golden Spikes Award watch list. The Golden Spikes Award, sponsored by Major League Baseball, is given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country who exhibits exceptional on-field ability and exemplary sportsmanship.
Tigers vs. Ranked Foes
Under head coach Daron Schoenrock, the Tiger baseball squad is 12-55 versus ranked opponents and 2-18 in May/June. Last season, the U of M was 4-4 against ranked opponents, including a series win over 18th-ranked Rice at FedExPark. Since 2000, the Tigers are 16-91 against ranked teams.
With new bats in college baseball, generating offense has come down to getting a leadoff man on base and clutch hitting with two outs in an inning. The Tigers have had some success this season with two outs as the offense has produced 118, two-out RBI this season. The U of M had 137, two-out RBI at this point last season and was batting .310 (169-545) with two outs. The Tigers have a .293 (153-522) average with two outs this year. In C-USA games this season, the Tigers are hitting .239 with two outs and have 32 two-out RBI. Memphis has 29 home runs this season and 14 have come with two outs in an inning. T.J. Rich leads the U of M with 21, two-out RBI and four other Tigers have 10 or more two-out RBI.
Chad Zurcher continues to climb the charts for hits in a career as he moved to fifth with 235 career hits. Zurcher needs five hits to tie for fourth and six to tie for third. Drew Martinez is right on Zurcher heels as he has climbed to seventh all-time with 223 career hits. The dynamic duo has ascended in the record book for runs scored as well, with Martinez in seventh (143) and Zurcher eighth (142). Zurcher (49) and Martinez (48) are already in the top 10 for steals with Zurcher in ninth and Martinez in 10th. Jacob Wilson is climbing the record books for career doubles as he is currently in eighth with 45.
The Tigers have been involved in 14 games this season decided by one run. The U of M is 6-8 in those games and under head coach Daron Schoenrock, Memphis is 49-53 (since 2005).
The Tigers have played several nail bitters this season and in games decided by two runs or less, Memphis is 8-13, 6-5 in league play. The Tigers have five come-from-behind wins and have eight one run losses. In seven of Memphis' nine league losses, the Tigers have lost by a combined 13 runs.
With a 22-13 mark in weekend series, midweek games have puzzled the Tigers this season. Memphis stands at 4-8 in midweek battles this season. Memphis has outscored its opponents 59-58 in the 12 midweek games and the Tigers average 4.92 runs per game during midweek battles. On the weekends, the U of M averages 7.34 runs per game and has outscored opponents 257-188 in those 35 games.
Friday The 13th
Considered to be a day of bad luck, Friday the 13th has been a sign of a hard fought battle for the Tiger baseball program under head coach Daron Schoenrock. Friday the Tigers will play their fourth game on a Friday the 13th under Coach Rock and in the previous three games, Memphis is 2-1. The last Friday the 13th game was in the 2009 season and the U of M used a walk-off triple by Jacob Wilson to defeat Indiana State 6-5 in 10 innings. The last league game on Friday the 13th happened in the 2007 season when the Tigers topped UAB 7-6. Memphis played on Friday, May 13 in 2005 at Cincinnati and dropped that game 7-5.
Good Start But What About Finish?
Just in the last 20 games, the Tigers have pounced on opponents early, producing 57 runs in the first three innings. On the season, Memphis has scored 139 runs in the first three innings and when the Tigers score first, the U of M is 18-11. On the mound, Memphis has limited its opponents to just 59 runs in the first three innings. After taking an early lead, the Tigers have struggled in the last 20 games, posting a 10-10 record. The Tigers have been outscored in the final four innings of the last 20 games 66-40.
New Bats Hurting The Tigers??
Although college baseball switched to the new BBCOR bats, the Memphis offense has had no trouble adjusting to the new bat. The Tiger offense is second in C-USA with a .306 batting average. Memphis has 69 (491) fewer hits than it did at this point last season (560). The Tigers are minus 15 with 29 home runs compared the 2010 squad that had 44 at this point last season. The Tigers have scored double-digit runs in 12 games and has pounded out double-digit hits in 28 games. The Tigers have cut down on the strikeouts with 76 fewer strikeouts than a season ago and the U of M has walked 34 more times than the 2010 club.
Senior southpaw Ryan Holland leads Conference USA with eight 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, Alcorn State and Southern Miss. As a pitching staff, Memphis leads C-USA with 20 pickoffs.
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 43 percent (175-411) of the time and when the leadoff man reaches base, Memphis has scored 87 runs. Tiger leadoff man Drew Martinez has reached base in 36 of his 81 (.444) plate appearances as a leadoff hitter. Chad Zurcher sports a 24-for-37 (.649) mark as a lead-off man.
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 two wins to reach a 200th career victory.
The U of M pitching staff sports a 4.79 ERA this season and when the Tigers score four or more runs, Memphis is 25-7 and when scoring less than four Memphis is 1-14. Roughly 60 percent of the Tigers 316 runs (183 of 316) have come in the first four innings.
"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 316 runs scored this season, the U of M has scored 48 after the seventh inning. When leading after seven innings, Memphis is 23-2 and when the game is tied or the Tigers trail, Memphis is 3-16 this season.
April Showers Bring May Flowers
With the mighty Mississippi approaching a record flood stage, could the April showers bring some success for the Tigers in May? Memphis plays six of its 11 scheduled contests in May away from the Bluff City with two of the three weekend series on the road. After a 5-2 record in February, the U of M was 8-9 in March. April was a rocky month for the Tigers as they posted a 12-8 record, 7-5 in league play. 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. In April, the Tigers hit .326 as a club. Memphis had just three errors in February, but March and April saw the Tigers defense collect 17 errors. Under head coach Daron Schoenrock, the U of M is 33-53 in the month of May with the best record coming in the 2006 season at 9-7. Last May, the U of M went 8-8, but claimed a third place finish in C-USA.
Walking In Memphis
Memphis has taken 213 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 37 walks. Zurcher has walked 31 times this season and is second on the squad. Eight of the nine batters in the Tigers lineup have walked 10 or more times on the season.
Double Your Pleasure
As a team, Memphis has 103 doubles this season. Chad Zurcher and Phillip Chapman pace the Tigers with 17 doubles each and Jacob Wilson has added 13 doubles. The Tigers are 18-8 when they hit two or more doubles in a game.
Looking For A Big Hit
This season, the Tigers are hitting .325 (181-557) with runners in scoring position, but its been a lack of a big hit with runners in scoring position that have cost the Tigers. In league play, Memphis is hitting .301 (58-193) with runners in scoring position and in Memphis's series losses in C-USA play, the Tigers are hitting .247 (20-81). Chad Zurcher leads Memphis with a .537 average with runners in scoring position. T.J. Rich is second on the club with a .439 average.
The Tigers have defended the home turf pretty well this season and with seven home games left at FedExPark, Memphis will need to keep up that success. The Tigers are 18-11 at FedExPark this season. The U of M is 35-21 at FedExPark and has won 24 of the last 30 games at the renovated ballpark. In head coach Daron Schoenrock's tenure, the Tigers are 81-82 at home.
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 .388, with 138 hits and 88 runs scored this year. The duo has claimed 32 steals on the base paths and has 32 extra-base hits.
Where Is The Production Coming From?
When looking closely at game-by-game box scores, Memphis has gotten most of its offensive firepower from the first four batters in the lineup. This season, the first four hitters are batting .327. The first four batters have provided 47 percent (136-288) of the clubs RBI this season and 53 percent (167-316) of the runs scored. When the first four batters in the lineup collect four or more hits, the Tigers are 23-11 this season. Four is the magic number in runs scored as the Tigers are 18-1 when the first four batters account for four or more runs. The Tigers first four batters have hit .250 or better in 34 of the 47 games this season and Memphis is 23-11 in those games. The first four batters broke a 7-for-51 (.137) four-game slump with a 10-18 (.556) performance on April 24.
What About The Bottom Of The Order?
With the top of the order producing just over half of the runs this season, what is the bottom of the order doing you may ask. The 7-8-9 hitters are batting .295 on the season and have 80 RBI. The 7-8-9 hitters have scored 83 runs for the Tiger offense and when those hitters score three or more times, Memphis is 12-2. When the last three batters in the order hit at a .250 clip or higher, Memphis is 23-6 on the season.
Apples to Oranges
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 40 errors this season, Memphis has improved its error total from 81 a season ago and allowed just 23 unearned runs compared to 75 this time a year ago. On the mound, the U of M has shaved off a run and a half per game off its ERA with a 4.79 team ERA compared to 6.08 this time last season. The Tigers, who are second in C-USA with a .306 average, are behind last year's club that had a .326 average. The largest statistical difference with the 2011 club compared to the 2010 squad is the run differential. The 2010 squad was minus two runs at this point last season, but this year, Memphis is a plus 50.
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.