Tigers Win Last Scheduled Meeting Between Mizzou and KU
LAWRENCE, KS -- The Mizzou baseball team won the final scheduled meeting between Mizzou and Kansas in any sport as it won the final of a three-game series, 6-3, on Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. Senior Conner Mach went 4-for-5 with three two-out hits and three two-out RBI as he helped the Tigers improve to 28-26 and 10-14 in Big 12 play. With the win, the Tigers are locked into the No. 6 seed in next week's Big 12 Tournament.
Senior Ben Turner also had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-4 in the win while junior Blake Holovach earned the win in his first start since May 6 against Texas. He went 4.2 innings and allowed just six hits and while striking out three and allowing three earned runs. The win is his first since March 31 at Texas A&M. Dusty Ross earned his third save of the season in the win.
Mizzou got on the board early as it finally broke through for its first lead of the series on a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first. After the first two batters were retired by KU starter Thomas Taylor, Ben Turner singled and then Dane Opel reached on a throwing error by KU shortstop Kevin Kuntz, putting runners on second and third with two outs for Conner Mach. He hit a bloop single into right field to score the two runners but was out in a rundown trying to advance to second base on the play.
Holovach then took to the hill in the bottom of the first and worked around a one-out bunt single thanks to a 1-6-3 double play as he got through the first inning on just eight pitches. The Tigers then came back out and once again saw the first two batters of the frame retired by Taylor. Dillon Everett drew a two-out walk but Brannon Champagne grounded out to third to end the threat.
After a 1-2-3 second inning from Holovach, Mizzou once again hit well with two outs in the top of the third inning. Turner tallied his second hit of the day on a liner back up the middle and then Opel walked to put two men on for Mach, who again delivered. He hit a single up the middle to score Turner, marking his third RBI of the day, all with two outs. Andreas Plackis then followed with an RBI single of his own to put Mizzou on top, 4-0.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Holovach struggled in the fifth inning as he allowed a leadoff homer to Michael Suiter before giving up two more runs in the frame as Kansas cut the Mizzou lead to just 4-3. James Stanfield nearly hit a two-run homer to tie the game, but it stayed in the park, but it did score KU's third run as Blake Brown nearly made a great play on the ball in right field. From there, reliever Ryan Yuengel came on and shut the door, sending the game to the sixth inning where Mizzou responded.
Mach led off the sixth with his third hit of the day - a double to right center. Plackis then grounded out to first on a very close play, advancing Mach to third and then Michael McGraw - making his first start since April 15 after being injured in practice - singled up the middle to score Mach from third, giving Mizzou a 5-3 lead. That ended the day for KU starter Taylor, but the Jayhawks got out of the inning with no more damage.
The Tigers then added another run in the top of the seventh inning as Eric Garcia led off the frame with a single before he was moved to third on Turner's third hit of the day. Garcia was then scored on a sacrifice fly from Opel, giving Mizzou a 6-3 lead. Yuengel then came back out in the bottom of the seventh and pitched around a one-out double to send the game to the eighth inning.
Dusty Ross then came on in relief in the eighth inning and retired the Jayhawk order after Jake Walsh allowed a single to open the frame. The Tigers threatened to score in the ninth inning, putting runners on second and third with one out, but a pair of grounders sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. Ross then came out and had a 1-2-3 inning to close the game.
The Tigers will open the Big 12 Tournament as the No. 6 seed next Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.
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