Tigers Complete Sweep of Kansas State
COLUMBIA -- Brett Graves, Jake Walsh and Dusty Ross teamed up for nine scoreless innings in Mizzou's (21-17) 7-0 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats. The shutout was the first for the Tigers against a Big 12 opponent since the 2010 season. Graves was dominant in his career day, going 6.2 innings and giving up just four hits, needing only 94 pitches in his time on the mound.
Dane Opel supplied some offensive fireworks with his solo bomb in the fifth that easily cleared the right field fence. Blake Brown also had three RBI on the day, extending his on-base streak to 25 games. Brannon Champagne's first-inning single increased his on-base streak to 30 games, good for second-best in the Big 12. The sweep of the weekend series was the first Big 12 sweep for the Tigers since 2010, when Mizzou bested Nebraska.
Graves started the game quickly, needing just three pitches to sit down the first batter in a scoreless first inning. Champagne singled with one out in the bottom of the inning, then stole second for his 10th stolen base of the season. Ben Turner walked to put two on with one out, and Eric Garcia's groundout to first advanced both runners into scoring position. Brown's single to left scored both runners, giving Mizzou a 2-0 lead. Kansas State recorded their first hit of the game with a one-out single in the second, but could not advance past first. Back-to-back one-out singles by the Wildcats put runners on first and second, and a fly ball to Dane Opel turned into a double play when Opel caught the runner sleeping off second base. After Mizzou went down in order in the third, both teams traded 1-2-3 innings in the fourth.
Graves continued to mow down batters in the fifth, forcing a flyout to center, a foul out to Conner Mach, and a flyout to right for a quick inning. Opel then made the score 3-0 with a solo shot that cleared the trees in right to lead off the inning. Andreas Plackis then reached base as his hot shot to third ate up the fielder and bounced into left field, but a double play cleared the bases. The Wildcats led off the sixth with a single to center, and the runner stole second before Graves struck out the next batter for the first out of the inning. A flyout to right advanced the runner to third, and a groundout to first ended the inning scoreless. Mach led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center, but that was the only Tiger hit of the inning.
Graves finished his outing strong by forcing a flyout to right and striking out the final batter he faced before being replaced by Walsh with two outs in the inning. Walsh forced a pop up behind home plate, and Turner gloved it up for the final out of the inning. Brown the led off the bottom of the frame with a single off the wall in center, but he was left stranded. Walsh and Ross combined to pitch a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, as Walsh got the first two batters out and Ross put a bow on the inning by recording the final out. Dillon Everett led off the eighth with a double, then Mach walked before Champagne's sacrifice bunt advanced both runners. Turner was intentionally walked to load the bases, and a wild pitch advanced all the runners and gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead. Brown's bunt single scored Mach from third to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead, and Opel's single to right scored two more runs for Mizzou to make the score 7-0. Ross closed out the game with two groundouts to second and a flyout to right.
Mizzou takes a road trip next weekend, then return in two weeks to face Texas on May 4, 5, and 6.