Tigers Sweep Missouri State
COLUMBIA - Conner Mach and Dane Opel led the way for the Mizzou (26-22) baseball team as the Tigers worked their way back from a 4-0 deficit to 10-5 win over Missouri State. With the win, the Tigers completed the season sweep over their in-state rival. Opel went 3-for-4 with a home run, four RBI, and two runs. Mach had a great day at the plate himself, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, scoring three runs, and getting an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. First baseman Andreas Plackis went 3-for-5 on the day, extending his team-best active hitting streak to 10 games.
Brett Graves started fast on the mound, striking out two batters in a scoreless first inning. Dillon Everett was hit by a pitch with one out in the inning, and Andreas Plackis's infield single put two on with two outs, but both were left stranded. Missouri State wasted no time in the second, scoring a run on a leadoff home run to left for a 1-0 lead. A bunt single with one out put a runner aboard for the Bears, and a walk put two on with one out, but Graves responded by forcing an infield fly and a flyout to limit the damage. Conner Mach led off the bottom of the frame with a double down the third base line, and Dane Opel's fly ball to the warning track in right allowed Mach to advance to third. Two straight Tigers were then retired, stranding Mach on third. Blake Holovach entered the game to pitch in the third and surrendered a leadoff single. After walking the following batter, a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position with one out. A single to right scored one run, making the score 2-0 and putting runners on the corners, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the inning after just one run. Eric Garcia walked to start off the bottom of the third, but a double play quickly cleared the bases. Ben Turner doubled with two outs, but a groundout stranded Turner in scoring position.
Holovach started off the fourth by getting a strikeout, and a popped up bunt preceded a bunt single down the third base line to put a runner on first with two outs. The following hitter launched a home run over the right field fence to give the Bears a 4-0 advantage. After walking the following batter, Holovach was replaced by Jeff Emens, who forced a flyout to center to end the inning. Mach singled with one out in the bottom of the inning, and Opel launched a two-run shot to right to cut the Missouri State lead to 4-2. Emens then breezed through the fifth, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 inning. Mizzou put two on with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but both were left stranded. Emens again had an easy time in the sixth, striking out two before Turner threw out a runner attempting to steal second base. Mach led off the bottom of the inning with a single to left, and reached second on a fielding error by the left fielder. Opel's double down the right field line brought in Mach to cut the Missouri State lead to 4-3. With runners on the corners and two outs, a wild pitch allowed Opel to score, tying the game at four. Another wild pitch let Garcia advance to third, and Everett walked to put runners on the corners. Turner's chopper up the middle was fumbled by the shortstop, and a run scored on the error to give Mizzou a 5-4 lead, their first lead of the game.
Ryan Yuengel entered to pitch in the seventh and struck out a batter after walking the leadoff man. A single then put runners on the corners with one out, and a fielder's choice tied the teams at five. Mach doubled to left with one out in the bottom of the inning, and Opel was intentionally walked. A wild pitch two batters later moved both into scoring position, and Scott Sommerfeld's single to center scored both to give the Tigers a 7-5 lead, and Garcia's single to right brought in Brannon Champagne, who was pinch-running for Sommerfeld, for a 8-5 lead. Yuengel sat the Bears down in order in the eighth, and Plackis notched a double in the bottom of the inning with one out before Blake Brown followed suit with a double of his own. Mach's sacrifice fly scored Plackis to put Mizzou ahead 9-5. Opel's single to right scored Brown, giving the Tigers a five-run lead. Dusty Ross entered to close out the game, and got a 1-2-3 inning as the Tigers finished off their in-state counterparts for the second time this season.
The Tigers will play host to Memphis this weekend, the final home series of the year.