Opel Explodes at the Plate in Split Doubleheader
COLUMBIA -- Dane Opel went off at the plate in Mizzou's (7-10, 1-2) split doubleheader against Arkansas State, taking the first game 5-1 and dropping game two by a 10-3 final on Tuesday (March 19) at Taylor Stadium. Opel accounted for five RBI, four hits and three runs in the two-game set, sending two homers over the right field wall. Opel's two bombs were the first homers of the season for the Tigers.
Game one starter Jace James set a career-high eight strikeouts, while game two starter Griffin Goodrich tied his career high with five. James saw his 19.1 consecutive scoreless inning streak come to an end in game one on a home run he allowed in the seventh inning of the first game, and Dylan Kelly's consecutive games on-base streak reached 13 before he was held off the bags in the second game.
James worked a quick first, allowing one hit and striking out two before Kendall Keeton and Dillon Everett reached base to start off the bottom of the frame. Logan Pearson's sac bunt advanced the runners, and Opel's sacrifice fly brought in Keeton for a 1-0 lead after one. Both teams went down in order in the second, and James fanned two more batters in the third to put his game total at five. Mizzou went down scoreless again in the third.
Another 1-2-3 inning for Arkansas State came before Opel and Kelly set the table with no outs, and Jake Ivory's sacrifice bunt moved up both runners. Josh Lester tallied a RBI on a dropped fly ball by Austin Baker, giving Mizzou a two-run lead after four. James sat the Red Wolves down in order again in the fifth, and Keeton laced a double to left to lead off the bottom of the inning. Everett walked, Pearson dropped another sacrifice bunt, and Opel singled in both baserunners for a 4-0 lead. A scoreless top of the sixth by James featured two more strikeouts before Mizzou went down scoreless in the bottom of the frame.
James gave up a home run to Ryan Roberters, with one out in the seventh, ending a streak of 19.1 scoreless innings on the mound. After a hit and a walk, Mizzou went to Jake Walsh on the rubber, who fanned the only batter he faced in the inning. Opel launched a home run in the bottom of the inning, the first of the season for a Mizzou batter, giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead after seven. Walsh pitched himself into trouble with back-to-back hits with one out, but Breckin Williams threw two strikeouts to get out of the jam. Williams again held Arkansas state off the board in the ninth to finish off the 5-1 win.
Goodrich racked up three strikeouts in the first three frames as both teams failed to score in the opening three innings of game two. Arkansas State jumped on top in the fourth inning as Claude Johnson singled in Logan Uxa for a 1-0 lead. The advantage didn't last long as Opel launched another bomb to right, tying the game at one to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
Arkansas State got two runs in the sixth off Peter Fairbanks, who allowed three hits in his frame to give the Red Wolves a 3-1 lead before he was replaced in the seventh by John Miles, who pitched a scoreless seventh. Keaton Steele reached second with one out in the bottom of the frame, and Segovia tied the game on a triple with a throwing error that allowed him to score.
The Red Wolves threatened in the eighth by putting two on with two outs against Miles, who was replaced by Walsh. After a strikeout that got away from Ivory, Kevin Fitzpatrick shot a liner through the left side, scoring two runs for a 5-3 lead, the first RBI hit of a seven-run inning. All seven runs in the eighth were unearned after Ivory's passed ball on a strikeout, which would have been the third of the inning. Both teams went scoreless the rest of the way.
Mizzou heads to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers over the weekend, the second series for Mizzou in SEC play.