Tigers Run Away From Mavericks

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COLUMBIA -- The Mizzou baseball team (5-5) defeated the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (2-10) on Tuesday (March 6) night in Taylor Stadium by a final score of 14-4. Brett Graves threw four scoreless innings for Mizzou in his first career start with the Tigers, tallying four strikeouts along the way. Left fielder Dane Opel hit his third home run of the season, a shot over the bullpen in left field, and drove in three runs. Conner Mach went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI on the day at the plate, including a double off the left field well for three runs.

Graves gave up back-to-back singles to the first two batters, then a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. Graves then forced a fly to right, and walked the following batter to load the bases. A lineout to center then ended the inning scoreless. Blake Brown reached first after getting hit by a pitch, and Brannon Champagne bunted him to second. Mach's single to left brought Brown in from second, but Mach was thrown out attempting to advance to second. Opel then launched a home run over the bullpen in left field to take a 2-0 lead. Scott Sommerfeld followed with a single to increase his hitting streak to seven games, and Eric Garcia then notched a single of his own. Ben Turner reached on an error by the right fielder, scoring Sommerfeld from second.

In the second, Mizzou registered their first double play of the year on a 4-6-3 putout, helping Graves go through another scoreless inning that ended with his first strikeout of the game. Dillon Everett led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, then Brown moved him to third with a single to right. Champagne's sacrifice fly to right brought Everett in to make the score 4-0. Mach got his second hit of the game with another single to left, but was stranded on second to end the inning. Graves pitched a scoreless third, including two strikeouts. Mizzou then went down in order in the bottom of the frame.

The Tigers again held Nebraska-Omaha off the board in the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, Everett got hit by a pitch with one out, then Brown walked. Champagne notched a single to center, then Mach's double off the wall cleared the bases for Mizzou to take a 7-0 lead heading into the fifth inning. Dusty Ross took over for Graves in the fifth, and held the Mavericks off the board again, but the Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the inning. The Mavericks were able to score in the sixth as they converted a second-and-third, one-out situation into a run. Everett led off with a single in the bottom of the inning, then scored on Brown's double to the right-center field gap to make the score 8-1 Tigers. Champagne walked to put runners on the corners with no outs for Mach, who grounded into a fielder's choice that left runners on the corners for Opel, who tripled in both runners for a 10-1 lead. Garcia's single to left brought Opel in from third, and Quiantanilla registered his first RBI of the season with a single to right. Garcia then scored on a wild pitch to make the score 13-1. Sal Belfonte grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded to grow the lead to 14-1.

Ryan Yuengel came in to pitch in the seventh, and Nebraska-Omaha scored a run after a single and double, cutting the lead to 14-2. The Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the inning, as Case Munson's long fly ball fell just short of the fence. The Mavericks pushed two more runs across in the eighth, coming off a triple and a wild pitch. Gavin Stark came through with his first career hit in the bottom of the eighth, a single to right with a runner on first. Jeff Cline came in for Mizzou to pitch the ninth inning, and he was able to hold the Mavericks off the board.