Tigers enter vital series with Texas A&M

The Tigers will need to win the series to have a chance at qualifying for the SEC tournament.

Left-hander Rob Zastryzny pitches during a 15-5 victory over Ball State in March at Taylor Field. Zastryzny has struggled against Texas A&M, Missouri's upcoming opponent, his entire career, working to a 6.28 ERA. Maneater File Photo

With only three series left before the Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament, every game for Missouri baseball is now a must-win situation. With a conference record of 7-14, the Tigers are deadlocked with Auburn and Texas A&M for the 10th and final spot in the tournament.

The Tigers travel to College Station for a weekend series with the Aggies starting on Friday. When the two teams clashed in the Big 12 last season, the series was split with both sides getting a pair of wins. Both of Texas A&M’s wins against Missouri were at home.

This season the Aggies are 17-8 at Olsen Field while Missouri is 4-13 outside of Columbia.

Leading the Tigers defensively is junior ace Rob Zastryzny. Though his 2-8 record isn’t the best in the rotation, Zastryzny does have the highest number of strikeouts in 2013 with 64. The ace has struggled against the Aggies throughout his career, giving up 10 earned runs with an ERA of 6.28.

At the plate, Missouri has two batters hitting over .300. Junior catcher Dylan Kelly has a team-high average of .314, while senior outfielder Dane Opel has a batting average of .308. The two sluggers share the hitting title for Missouri with 44 hits while junior pitcher/infielder Keaton Steele has a team-best four home runs.

The Tigers will be hitting the road with deflated momentum. Until Tuesday, when Missouri hosted Southeast Missouri State, the Tigers had a team ERA of 1.77 and were looking to go .500 on the eight game home stand with an easy non-conference win. But the Redhawks had other plans. With five players getting multiple hits during the game, SEMO tallied up 15 base-knocks, winning 9-7.

The series starts Friday at 6:35 p.m. at College Station.

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