Tigers Drop Doubleheader at Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE - The Missouri baseball team dropped both in a doubleheader against Nebraska on Saturday, closing out the regular season schedule. The Tigers dropped game one, 4-3, and lost game two 8-5. The losses drop the Tigers to 24-30 overall and 11-15 in Big 12 play, putting them into the postseason with their ninth straight appearance at the Big 12 Tournament. The losses also snap the Tigers' streak of four straight Big 12 series wins as well.
In game one, Tiger starter Matt Stites got into some trouble in the first inning, walking the first batter he saw and hitting the next, putting two on no outs. Nebraska's Kash Kalkowski then singled in a run to put Nebraska on top, 1-0, but the Tigers got out of the inning with minimal damage, due in large part to a great play by Andrew Thigpen on a relay from right field, gunning down a Nebraska runner at home.
Mizzou then rallied in the top of the second. Jonah Schmidt led off the inning with a single and he stole second, good for his 10th steal of the season. Blake Brown then reached base on a bunt single and Jesse Santo hit a sacrifice fly to score Schmidt from third, tying the game at one. Brown was then caught stealing, but back-to-back doubles by Ben Turner and CJ Jarvis scored the go-ahead run.
The Tigers added to their lead in the third inning. Conner Mach led off the inning with a single and stole second. Brannon Champagne then walked and Eric Garcia moved the runners to second and third with a bunt, leading to an RBI groundout for Schmidt, putting Mizzou on top, 3-1.
Nebraska evened things up in the third by scoring two runs as they really started to hit Stites around. He came back out and threw a scoreless fourth before giving way to Kelly Fick in the fifth. Fick pitched pretty well in the fifth, but gave up the go-ahead run on a bloop single in the sixth, putting Nebraska on top, 4-3. However, he came back out in the seventh and retired the side in order, keeping Mizzou with striking distance.
But Husker starter Tyler Niederklein turned in a season-best effort and shut down the Tigers while Dylan Vogt earned the save, keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard over the last inning and a third. Niederklein threw 7.2 innings and allowed just three runs while striking out six en-route to the win.
Turner led the Tigers at the plate in game one, going 2-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. Fick went 3.2 innings and scattered just three hits, but he was tagged with the loss after allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate in the sixth.
In game two, the Tigers carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning after plating two in the top of the third. One of the runs came on a bases-loaded groundout by Champagne and the next on an RBI single by Eric Garcia. But despite carrying the lead into the fourth, things fell apart for the Tigers as Nebraska scored six runs in the inning. Five of the six runs were scored with two outs and three were unearned as Mizzou committed two errors in the frame.
That was all Nebraska needed as they closed out the doubleheader sweep, tagging Rob Zastryzny with the loss in game two. The Tigers attempted to rally, scoring a pair of runs in the in the eighth inning and another in the ninth, but that was not enough as they fell, 8-5. Mach and Scott Sommerfeld led the Tigers with two hits each in the second game, going 2-5 with a run scored and 2-5 with an RBI, respectively. Schmidt also went 1-4 while driving in a pair of runs.
The Tigers are now preparing for the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which begins on Wednesday, March 25. Seedings for the tournament have not yet been decided.
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