Mizzou Baseball Splits Doubleheader at Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, TN -- The Mizzou baseball team split a doubleheader at Tennessee on Saturday as it moves to 8-12 on the season and 2-4 in SEC play. The Tigers lost game one, 7-6, on a walk-off single as they coughed up a 3-0 lead and a 6-5 lead in the ninth, allowing Tennessee to come back and take game one. Mizzou got a good start from sophomore Brett Graves, who went 5.0 innings, allowing just seven hits and two earned runs and exited the game in line for the win. In game two, Mizzou scored a season-high 14 runs in a 14-6 win that was highlighted by freshman Alec Rash's second win of the season. Rash went 5.0 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, only one earned, with five strikeouts.
The Tigers were very good at the plate in the doubleheader and were very close to walking away with a sweep if not for the ninth inning in game one. In all, the Tigers tallied 24 hits on the day and plated 20 runs as the offense finally broke out. Case Munson and Michael McGraw had big days in game one. Munson went 2-for-2 with a run and two RBI while McGraw went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. In game two, the Tigers were led by catcher Dylan Kelly, who went 3-for-6, falling a triple shy of the cycle with two runs, five RBI and his first career Division I homer, a three-run bomb. Josh Lester also had a big day in game two, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and his first career homer, scoring two runs and driving in three more. Mizzou tallied 11 doubles on the day and 13 extra-base hits as well.
In game one, Mizzou threatened in the first as Dillon Everett led off the game with a single past the second baseman, but the Tigers couldn't get another hit in the inning. Tennessee then got to Graves in the first after two-hole hitter Jeff Moberg drew a walk ahead of a Scott Price single, putting runners on the corners with one out. But Graves got a pop up and then Price was caught stealing to end the threat.
Tennessee native Kendall Keeton, hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time in his Division I career, led off the second with a double off the wall in left, just missing his first career homer. Keeton was then sacrificed to third on a bunt by Lester and then a single with the infield in by McGraw drove Keeton in. The ball landed on the back of the infield dirt, just over the drawn-in infield for McGraw's first RBI of the season.
After Logan Pearson grounded out to first for the second out after grinding out an at-bat, Shane Segovia drew a walk ahead of Munson in another great at-bat. Then, with runners on the corners and two out, Munson fell behind, 0-2, but laced an off-speed pitch into centerfield to plate another run, giving Mizzou a 2-0 lead after two innings.
Tennessee nearly scored in the bottom of the third on a single through the left side, but Munson gunned the run at the plate from left for his first career outfield assist. At that point of the game, Musnon was a key contributor with a two-out RBI single and he saved a run with an assist from the outfield. Munson then added a double, his second hit of the day, in the fourth inning.
The Vols finally got to Graves in the fourth inning as Vincent Jackson launched a two-out bomb off the scoreboard in right field, cutting the lead to 3-2. It was Jackson's first career homer. Mizzou threatened to score again in the fifth as a pair of walks put runners aboard, ending Williams' day. That gave way to Aaron Quillen, who got a fly out and strikeout to get out of the jam. Graves then put runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but he got Christin Stewart to pop up to center, ending the threat, sending the game to the sixth with Mizzou on top, 3-2.
In the top of the sixth, Everett got a huge two-out, two strike double into the right field corner to score Munson, who was hit by a pitch, from first for his third RBI of the season and second double of the year. Mizzou took that 4-2 lead into the sixth and reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week Keaton Steele took over for Graves, who was in line for his first win. After striking out the first two batters, Steele allowed four straight hits to allow Tennessee to take a 5-4 lead.
But Mizzou got a run in the eighth after McGraw led off the frame with a double and was eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Munson, his second RBI of the day, knotting the game at 5-5. The Tigers then got another run in the ninth to take a 6-5 lead. Opel led off the frame with another double and scored on a fielder's choice by Keeton. Six of Mizzou's eight hits in the game were to lead off an inning in game one. But Tennessee rallied in its half of the ninth, scoring the tying run on a squeeze play and then a walk-off hit by Pierce Bily as it won game one, 7-6, to win the series. Breckin Williams was tagged with the loss after allowing the two runs in the ninth, his first of the season.
In game two, Mizzou took advantage of three hit batters in the first inning by UT starter Trevor Bettencourt and got RBI doubles from Kelly and Lester as they it took a 2-0 lead. However, the Tigers could have had more as they stranded the bases loaded. But Mizzou made that up in the top of the second as Kelly launched his first Division I homer over the scoreboard in right field, scoring three runs to give Mizzou a 5-0 lead.
UT's Stewart led off the Vols' half of the second with a triple off of Rash, just the fifth hit allowed by the freshman this season. He came in to score on a groundout by game-one hero Bily, the first run allowed by Rash in his career. But Mizzou got that run back and then some in the top of the third as it plated four runs. The big hit in the inning came off the bat of Opel, who just missed a grand slam, sending a bases-loaded double off the wall in center, scoring two. Kelly and Segovia each added RBIs in the inning as well, Kelly on a single and Segovia on a double.
Mizzou added three more runs in the fourth, including a two-run single by Pearson and a one-run double by Lester as the Tigers continued to pour it on. Lester added his first career homer in the sixth and Everett tacked on an RBI single in the frame as well as Mizzou carried a 14-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth.
From there, Jake Walsh took over in relief of Rash and shut down the Vols, striking out the first four batters he faced while pitching a perfect sixth and seventh innings. Jace James came on for the eighth and ninth and shut the door as Mizzou salvaged the nightcap.
The Tigers will return home for a 2 p.m. game against Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday at Taylor Stadium.
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