Senior Michael Liberto
Feb. 19, 2010
TUCSON, Ariz.- - For the first time since 2006, the Missouri baseball team dropped its season opener, falling to Gonzaga by a score of 10-6 in the start of play at the Collegiate Cactus Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
Prior to Friday's loss, the Tigers had won four-straight opening day games and six of their last seven.
"We got to play," Head Coach Tim Jamieson said. "We got a lot of people involved and we know what things we need to focus on. There were a few situations where if we can make the play, runs don't score."
Gonzaga put the first two runs on the board in the top of the first inning, then added a run with a second inning home run by Cameron Edman.
The Tigers put together a three-run bottom of the third inning, as a pair of newcomers helped Mizzou tie the score. Freshman Blake Brown singled to drive in Missouri's first run of the season. Junior Brett Nicholas followed Brown by connecting on a two-run home run.
Gonzaga got a run in the sixth inning to regain the lead, then put up a six-run top of the eighth inning to build a 10-3 lead.
MU scored twice in its half of the eighth, which included an RBI triple from senior Michael Liberto and an RBI double from sophomore Russell LaFleur. Mizzou added a run in the ninth for the final 10-6 margin.
Liberto tied his career high with four hits in the game, finishing 4-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored. The four hits matched a 4-for-5 performance he recorded last April against Saint Louis.
Brown and Nicholas were two of five newcomers in the Missouri opening day lineup. Brown was 3-for-5 in his debut and Nicholas had a pair of hits, including the homer in the third inning.
Junior Jeff Scardino, a transfer from Eastern Oklahoma State, got the start on the mound for Missouri and turned in 6.1 innings of work, allowing four runs on 10 hits.
The Collegiate Cactus Classic continues on Saturday when the Tigers will play a pair of games. MU will take on Washington at 4 p.m. CT before facing New Mexico State at 8 p.m. CT. Mizzou and Gonzaga will meet again on Sunday at Noon CT.
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