Pitching, defense give MU fine start

The Tigers, off to their best start in 17 years, play their first home game tonight.
Friday, February 27, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:12 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The road has been a comfortable place for the Missouri baseball team.

After playing three games in Phoenix and four in South Carolina, the Tigers will play their first home game tonight against Youngstown State.

Missouri (6-1) won its first six games, its best start since the 1987 Tigers won their first seven.

Coach Tim Jamieson said he is pleased with the team’s play.

“The pitching has been outstanding and really that’s what controls your whole destiny,” Jamieson said. “Offensively we have a lot of room for improvement, but defensively we’ve been OK.”

Dessau, Broshuis set pitching pace

On the mound, Erik Dessau has been most effective for the Tigers, with a 0.69 ERA in his two wins. Garrett Broshuis has also earned wins in his two starts.

Seniors Cody Ehlers and Brad Flanders have been effective for the Tigers offensively.

On Saturday against Coastal Carolina, Flanders became the second Tiger to hit three home runs in one game. Flanders went 4-for-5 and had seven RBIs.

“I feel that I’m starting to see the ball hitting-wise and getting comfortable,” Flanders said. “Hopefully I haven’t hit my peak and I keep going up.”

Ehlers is tied with Flanders for the team lead in RBIs at 12 and leads the Tigers with 10 hits.

Ryan Rallo and James Boone have also had success at the plate. They come into today’s game with four-game hitting streaks.

Flanders leads strong returning group

Along with Flanders, who was on the All-Big 12 Conference second team as catcher last season, Missouri returns seven position starters from last year.

“It helps us mesh well as a team,” Flanders said. “Position-wise we only lost our center fielder and our shortstop.”

Tonight’s game will be Youngstown’s first. The Penguins finished last season 27-28.

“I expect (Youngstown) to be competitive and get after it,” Jamieson said. “I think they’re a team that struggled two years ago, was better last year and is going to be even better this year.”

Flanders said the Tigers are prepared for the Penguins.

“We need to come out and do what we’re capable of doing,” he said.

“If we do that then everything will go as planned.”

Tigers hope to maintain fast start

Missouri needs strong play over the next few weeks to prepare for what will be a difficult conference season.

Four Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 25, including No. 6 Texas and No. 15 Baylor.

“If we get the pitching that we’ve been getting and make the progress that we think we can make, I think we can be better than we were last year,” Jamieson said.

“But I think it’s still too early to tell.”

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