Schmidt Backs Anderson as Tigers Beat Texas in Big 12 Opener
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - The Mizzou baseball team defeated top-seeded Texas 6-4, in the opening round of the 2011 Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Bricktown Ballpark. The Tigers scored four of their six runs with two outs, including a go-ahead, bases-clearing double by Jonah Schmidt in the sixth inning that turned out to be the key hit in the game. The win improves the Tigers to 25-30 this season and 19-21 all-time in Big 12 Tournament games. The Tigers also improve to 4-1 all-time against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament.
The win means that the Tigers will play fourth-seeded Oklahoma State on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Bricktown Ballpark. OSU swept the season series with the Tigers in Stillwater, but all three were close games. The Tigers will start freshman lefty Rob Zastryzny in the game.
"It was a great team effort. It gave us a chance to know that we're going to play at least two more games," head coach Tim Jamieson said. "It gives us a chance to keep playing until Sunday. We realize that's what we have to do. We have to keep winning to keep playing. It was a great effort by our ball club."
Schmidt led the Tigers at the plate on Wednesday, going 2-5 with four RBI, including the big two-out double in the sixth that put the game out of reach for the Longhorns. In all, the Tiger offense pounded out 12 hits against Texas, who came in as the top pitching team in the league. Conner Mach went 2-5 with a pair of runs scored as he now owns a season-long 10-game hit streak. Brannon Champagne tallied a multi-hit day as well, going 3-4 with a pair of runs scored. Ben Turner and CJ Jarvis also tallied RBIs in the game.
The offense backed a great start from sophomore righty Eric Anderson as he earned his third win of the season. He threw 93 pitches over 7.0 innings, both career highs, while scattering just eight Texas hits and allowing just three earned runs. The team is now 6-0 in games in which he has started this season and 5-0 in games that he has started against Big 12 competition.
"I was just trying to get ahead of hitters and let them get themselves out," Anderson said. "There was a while when my stuff wasn't very good, but if you have the mentality to just go after people; you're usually able to work through those situations."
Senior All-Big 12 closer Phil McCormick threw the final two innings to earn the save. Mizzou got on the board in the first inning as Mach led off the game with a single through the left side. Jamieson then put on the hit and run and Champagne singled through the vacated shortstop hole to put runners on the corners with no outs. After a strikeout by Eric Garcia, Schmidt singled through the left side to put the Tigers on top, 1-0.
Anderson took that 1-0 lead into the bottom of the first and made efficient work of the Longhorn order, retiring the side on eight pitches, seven of which were for strikes. He then allowed a leadoff walk in the second to Texas' Erich Weiss, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year this season. A bunt single then put two aboard with no outs and the runners were then bunted to second and third. Designated hitter Kevin Lusson then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring a run and evening the score at 1-1.
Mizzou regained the lead in the top of the fourth after Jarvis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, putting Mizzou on top 2-1. But the damage could have been worse as Mach lined a grounder to the hole at short with the bases loaded, but UT shortstop Brandon Loy made a great play to get the out at second and end the inning, likely robbing the Tigers of two runs.
The play that Loy made was big because Texas tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff solo shot to right field by Weiss. But Anderson settled in and retired the Longhorns from there, getting out of the fourth with scored tied. But Mizzou rallied in the fifth as Turner tallied a big two-out hit to score Champagne from second base, putting Mizzou on top 3-2.
Texas once again answered in the fifth, tying the game at 3-3 on an RBI single by Weiss. But Mizzou rallied for a huge inning in the sixth, plating three runs. With two outs, Mach singled and then Champagne walked. Garcia then reached on an infield single to load the bases, bringing Schmidt to the plate. He doubled to left center to clear the bases and put Mizzou on top, 6-3.
"I was just looking to see (the pitch) up, put a good swing on it and not try to do too much with it," Schmidt said. "That's when I get in trouble, if I try to do too much with a pitch I can handle. That's when I pop it up, so I was just trying to stay smooth and put a good swing on it."
From there, Anderson continued to deal and keep the Longhorns off balance, pitching a full seven innings. He threw 95 pitches in the seven innings, both career highs. He scattered just eight hits and gave up three earned runs. From that point, the Tigers turned to McCormick, their All-Big 12 closer to pitch the final two innings.
He gave up a run but turned in a six-out save to help the Tigers advance to the second round. The save was his team-leading seventh of the season.