Dane Opel launched two homeruns on Sunday.
Feb. 19, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - The Mizzou baseball team swept a doubleheader at Auburn on Sunday (Feb. 19) at Plainsman Park to win their season-opening series, 2-1. Mizzou won game one Sunday, 6-4, before rallying to win a curfew-shortened game in the nightcap, 4-3. Mizzou is now 2-1 on the 2012 season.
Mizzou won game one of the doubleheader, 6-4, as senior Jeff Emens earned his first win of the season as he threw 3.2 relied innings while allowing no runs on seven hits. Dane Opel launched a pair of homeruns and drove in four more on three hits while redshirt sophomore Jake Walsh earned his first career save in the game. Opel led the Tigers, going 3-4 with four RBI as the Tigers tallied 12 hits in the game. Auburn left 16 men on base in game one.
In game two, the Tigers scored three runs in the top of the seventh and held Auburn off the scoreboard as they won a curfew-shortened game, 4-3, in thrilling comeback fashion. The Tigers have now defeated Auburn - their future SEC rival - four times in five tries in program history.
Mizzou got on the board first in game one as Opel roped his first home run of the season and the fifth of his career in the top of the second inning, launching a 3-1 pitch into the bullpen in right field. The homer - which was the Tigers' second of the season - scored Ben Turner, who had reached earlier in the inning on a single to right. The Tigers got the next two batters aboard, but a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of nine-hole hitter Dillon Everett ended the inning for Mizzou.
Starter Rob Zastryzny went back to the hill in the second as Auburn attempted to answer Opel's two-run shot. The Tigers drew a pair of walks in the second and a throwing error by Mizzou's Eric Garcia loaded the bases, but Zastryzny struck out Auburn's Caleb Bowen to get out of the jam.
After Zastryzny pitched out of the jam in the second, Mizzou carried that momentum to the plate in the third as it plated two more runs. Blake Brown drew a walk and eventually scored on a two-out double by Garcia, giving Mizzou a 3-0 lead. Opel then came up next and ripped another single back up the middle to score Garcia, giving Mizzou a 4-0 lead and Opel his third RBI of the day.
Auburn added a run on a two-out single by Garrett Cooper in the bottom of the third as it cut into Mizzou's lead at 4-1, but Garcia made a great play at short stop to end the inning. Auburn knocked Zastryzny out of the game in the fourth and Jeff Emens relieved him with runners on second and third. Pinch hitter Cullen Wacker notched a double off the glove of Opel in left to plate both runs but Emens settled in to retire the next two batters as Mizzou took a 4-3 lead to the fifth.
Opel struck again in the top of the fifth, launching his second home run of the day and his fifth hit of the series over the wall in center field. That gave Mizzou a 5-3 lead in the game. Auburn again got runners on second and third, but Emens got a huge strikeout to end the fifth inning, keeping the score at 5-3 heading to the sixth.
Emens again pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth as Auburn loaded the bases before Emens retired the three-four hitters on an infield fly and a fly out to center field. Emens then pitched through the seventh as the Tigers carried a 5-3 lead to the eighth inning. Blake Holovach took over for Emens in the eighth and pitched around a pair of walks to get the Tigers to the ninth with a 5-3 lead. From there, Jake Walsh came on and earned his first save despite Auburn scoring a run in the ninth, but the Tigers won their first game of the season, 6-4.
In game two, Auburn got on the board first as a walk came back to haunt Tiger starter Jeff Cline. After Cline walked Jay Gonzalez, he advanced to second on a groundout and was plated on a single up the middle by Cooper. Auburn kept the lead until Brown scored on a passed ball in the top of the fifth, tying the game at 1-1. Mizzou scored that run without a hit in the inning and did not score in the previous inning despite tallying three hits (one extra-base knock) in the fourth.
Auburn answered in the bottom part of the fifth as Cline walked the leadoff batter on four pitches and then gave up a double to Blake Austin to plate the go-ahead run. Jay Gonzalez knocked in another run with two outs off of reliever Dusty Ross to give Auburn a 3-1 lead through five innings.
With a 4:45 curfew looming, the Tigers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with no outs. Champagne drew a bases-loaded walk to cut the lead in half and then Mach hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3. After a walk to Garcia, Turner notched a sacrifice fly as well to give Mizzou the lead, 4-3, with just a half inning remaining.
Ross got the first out of the seventh on a pop up and then Walsh came in and allowed a double down the left field line. But Walsh dug in and got the next two batters to earn his second save of the day.
For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.
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