Mizzou Falls at Georgia, 6-5
COLUMBIA, MO. -- Mizzou starter Brett Graves (St. Charles, Mo.) struggled on Saturday and the Georgia baseball team defeated Mizzou, 6-5, at Foley Field, tying the three-game series at one game apiece. Graves had his shortest start of the season, going just 3.2 innings while allowing five earned runs on seven hits, both season-highs against Graves. The loss drops the Tigers to 10-17 on the season and 3-8 in SEC play. The rubber match of the three game series will be played tomorrow at 1 p.m. (CT).
Mizzou fell behind 5-0 before scoring one in the fifth and three in the sixth to pull within one. Mizzou got its first two batters aboard in the seventh but couldn't tie the game and Georgia added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on an error to take a 6-4 lead and the Tigers went quietly from there despite a one-run rally in the ninth. Georgia starter Sean McLaughlin was credited with his fourth win of the season while Graves took the loss.
Georgia got to Graves in the first inning, plating a pair of runs to take a quick 2-0 lead. Graves walked Jess Posey and then allowed him to steal second base. Following the steal, a single by Hunter Cole put runners on the corners with one out and a sacrifice fly by Kyle Farmer scored Posey. Then the big hit of the inning came off the bat of Jared Walsh, scoring Farmer to give UGA a 2-0 lead.
Mizzou attempted to answer in the second as Keaton Steele (St. Joseph, Mo.) led off the inning with a double off the wall in left center. Logan Pearson (Bentonville, Ark.) then reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners with one out, but Kendall Keeton (Columbia, Tenn.) hit into a fielder's choice and Steele was gunned at the dish and then Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) hit into a 6-3 double play to end the threat.
Georgia got to Graves again in the bottom of the third, again scoring two runs to take a 4-0 lead. The runs were scored on a Farmer sacrifice fly and a Walsh single before Graves struck out Brett DeLoach to get out of the jam.
Graves ran into more trouble in the fifth as he allowed a two-out RBI single to Curt Powell to give UGA a 5-0 lead before being pulled in favor of Jake Walsh(Dallas, Texas) who pitched out of the jam. Mizzou finally got to McLaughlin in the fifth as Keeton was hit by a pitch on the arm to open the inning and advanced to third on back-to-back wild pitches. Lester then drove him in with an RBI sacrifice fly to center. The Tigers then put up a three spot in the sixth, doing most of the damage off of UGA's top reliever Ross Ripple. Dane Opel (Edwardsville, Ill.) led off the inning with a four-pitch walk and then Dylan Kelly (Roswell, Ga.) singled through the left side and then Steele walked to load the bases. Pearson then hit a sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-2. Keeton then beat out a slow-hit ball to third for an RBI single to pull the Tigers closer at 5-3 and Dillon Everett (Phoenix, Ariz.) hit into an RBI fielder's choice to make it 5-4.
The Tigers threatened to add more runs in the top of the seventh as Case Munson (St. Charles, Mo.) was hit by a pitch in front of an Opel walk to put the first two aboard for Mizzou. But the next three batters were retired by UGA reliever Mike Mancuso and Georgia got out of the jam. Georgia plated some insurance in the bottom of the seventh as a run scored on a throwing error by Lester, giving UGA a 6-4 lead heading into the final two innings. Breckin Williams (Oronogo, Mo.) was very good in relief, allowing just one earned run over the final three innings while striking out four but the Tigers couldn't complete the comeback.
Mizzou and Georgia will play the series finale tomorrow at 1 p.m. (CT). For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.