Feb. 17, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - The Mizzou baseball team dropped its 2012 season-opener at Auburn, 5-2, as Auburn starter Derek Varnadore pitched 7.0 innings and allowed just one earned run on five hits with 11 strikeouts to earn the win. That overshadowed a good start from the Tigers' Eric Anderson, who threw 6.0 innings and allowed just two earned runs on seven hits with no walks. Blake Brown also hit his first home run of the year in the loss.
Mizzou got its first runner aboard as Brown reached on an error, but he was erased from the base paths after he was caught stealing and the Tigers went in order in the first inning. Anderson then took to the hill in the bottom of the first and pitched around a pair of infield singles as he induced a fly out from the Auburn cleanup hitter Garrett Cooper and then got a groundout from Cullen Wacker to get out of the jam.
Both pitchers seemed to settle in from there until Anderson ran into a little trouble in the bottom of the third. He allowed a leadoff double to nine-hole hitter Blake Austin but looked like he was going to get out of the inning without any damage as he retired the next two batters. But Ryan Tella laced a two-out double to right center to give Auburn a 1-0 lead. Anderson struck out the next batter to get out of the inning.
Mizzou countered in the top of the fourth as it tallied four hits, started by Brannon Champagne and Conner Mach, who led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After a botched hit-and-run in which Champagne was thrown out at third and strikeout by Eric Garcia, Ben Turner roped a single up the middle to put the Tigers on the board, 1-1, as Mach scored the first Tiger run of the season. The Tigers tallied four hits in the inning but plated just one run.
Auburn regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out single by Jarred Smith, scoring Creede Simpson who had reached on a double that was just past the diving glove of Champagne in center field. The score stayed knotted at 2-1 until the bottom of the seventh when Blake Holovach
- in relief of Anderson - allowed a lead-off walk that scored on a bouncing chopper over the head of Mach at third base, giving Auburn a 3-1 lead.
Holovach then retired another batter before giving way for Brett Graves who hit his first batter and then walked in a run, giving Auburn a 4-1 lead. He then walked in Simpson to score another Auburn run and that ended his day, giving way to John Miles. Miles got the Tigers out of the inning and then Jake Walsh pitched out of a jam in the eighth to give Mizzou a chance in the ninth as the Tigers' trailed just 5-2 after Brown's homer in the eighth.
But Auburn's Zack Blatt got Turner, Dane Opel and Scott Sommerfeld in order to end the game. Mizzou and Auburn are scheduled to play again tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Plainsman Park. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.