Tigers Clinch Spot at Big 12 Tournament
LINCOLN, NE - The Mizzou baseball team clinched a spot at the Big 12 Tournament by topping Nebraska 10-5 on Friday afternoon at Haymarket Park in Lincoln. The game spanned a course of two days and was delayed by weather on two separate occasions. The Tigers scored eight runs over the last 1.1 innings to earn their 10th straight win over Nebraska.
The game started on Thursday before being suspended in the fifth inning due to severe weather with Nebraska leading, 3-1 and resumed Friday at noon. The win guarantees Mizzou a spot at the Big 12 Tournament for the ninth straight season and the Tigers could still finish as high as fifth in the league with a pair of wins tomorrow.
After the game was resumed, Mizzou immediately cut into the Nebraska lead scoring on a wild pitch to cut into the score at 3-2. The wild pitch came on an at-bat to CJ Jarvis. Ben Turner singled to center field and Jonah Schmidt moved to third on an error by Tanner Krietmeyer, over throwing third. He then came in to score on the wild pitch. But Nebraska answered in its half of the fifth, plating a run on an RBI groundout by Kash Kalkowski, putting Nebraska back up by two at 4-2.
After two scoreless innings, Mizzou put its rally together in the top of the eighth inning. With two outs and a runner on second, Andrew Thigpen roped a double to left field, scoring a run to cut into the lead at 4-3. That brought up Conner Mach who singled through the left side to score Thigpen from second, tying the game at 4-4. Mach then advanced to second on the throw home, bringing in Brannon Champagne with another RBI opportunity. He knocked a seeing-eye single through the right side to score Mach from second, putting Mizzou on top, 5-4. In all, Mizzou scored three runs in the frame, all with two outs.
The Huskers answered in the bottom of the eighth as Tiger lefty Phil McCormick struggled with command early in the frame, allowing a single and hitting two batters to load the bases. Nebraska second baseman Bryan Peters then singled off of Jarvis' glove at third to plate the tying run. But McCormick got three big strikeouts to get out of the inning with minimal damage as the two teams went to the ninth tied at five.
But the Tigers had another rally in them in the ninth. Schmidt and Blake Brown hit back-to-back singles and Santo bunted into a fielder's choice as the Huskers attempted to get Schmidt at third, but the throw was late, giving Mizzou bases loaded with no outs. That is when the rain set in again, forcing another delay.
Following the delay, which lasted 37 minutes, Ryan Ampleman came on and was hit by the very first pitch following the delay, plating the go-ahead run. It marked the second-straight at-bat for Ampleman in which he was hit by a pitch after he was hit against Texas Tech last Sunday, leading to the game-winning run. Pinch hitter Scott Sommerfeld then singled in another run to put Mizzou on top, 7-5 and then Mizzou tacked on three more runs to go on top 10-5. McCormick then retired the side in the ninth to earn his seventh win of the season.
Champagne led the Tigers at the plate in the game, going 2-6 with a game-high three RBI. Mach also had a great game, going 2-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Schmidt and Turner also tallied multi-hit games, going 2-5 with two runs scored and 3-4 with another run scored, respectively. Junior Jeff Emens pitched to open action on Friday, picking up for Eric Anderson who started the game last night. Emens went 3.0 innings and gave up just one earned run. McCormick allowed just one earned run over the final 2.0 innings en-route to his team-leading seventh win.
Mizzou is now 24-28 and 11-13 in Big 12 play. The teams will play in a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday.