Brett Graves has put together three consecutive dominating starts.
March 7, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Junior righty Brett Graves (St. Charles, Mo.) was dominant again for Mizzou baseball, as his 8.0 IP led the way for Mizzou (5-6) to claim a series-opening 4-1 victory over Southern Mississippi (6-8) Friday night (March 7) at Taylor Stadium. Graves improves to 2-1 on the season, surrendering only one run over eight innings of work, scattering five hits and striking out a career-high eight. The USM run in the second inning ended Graves' scoreless inning streak at 16.1, and the junior righty threw 21 first pitch strikes to the 29 batters he faced. Over his last three starts, Graves has pitched 23.0 innings, allowing just 10 hits and two walks while striking out 20.
Back-to-back doubles by Eric Anderson (Highlands Ranch, Co.) and Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) in the bottom of the seventh put the game out of reach as the two late runs added on to a two-run first inning sparked by Dylan Kelly (Columbus, Ga.) and Zach Lavy (Auxvasse, Mo.), who drove in Lester and Kendall Keeton (Columbia, Tenn.). Keaton Steele (St. Joseph, Mo.) earned his third save of the year. The Friday night contest was Missouri's first repeat opponent of the 2014 season, and 1,028 fans packed the stands at Taylor Stadium, the largest opening day crowd on record in program history.
Mizzou wasted no time offensively, getting back-to-back singles from with one out in the bottom of the first with Kelly and Lavy driving in the runs for a 2-0 lead after one frame. The Golden Eagles battled back, pushing a run across in the top of the second to cut the lead to 2-1, ending Graves' scoreless inning streak at 16.1. Both pitchers settled in after that, with Graves retiring the next eight Golden Eagle batters.
Mizzou and Southern Miss both tallied only one hit over the next two innings, the Tigers' coming from freshman Ryan Howard (St. Charles, Mo.). Graves pitched a strong sixth inning, working around a single as he struck out the side. A leadoff single put the tying run on the bases in the seventh inning for Southern Miss, but Graves responded by inducing a flyout and starting a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Tigers padded the lead in the bottom of the seventh, started by a walk by Jake Ring (Inglesdale, Ill.) drawing a two-out walk. Anderson followed by lacing a double down the left field line, scoring Ring from first to give Mizzou a 3-1 advantage and ending USM starter Conor Fisk's day on the mound at 6.2 innings, five hits and on the hook for four earned runs. Lester matched Anderson's effort, roping a shot down the left field line to push Mizzou ahead 4-1 after seven innings.
Steele was called in to relieve Graves in the bottom of the ninth after Graves hit the leadoff batter, striking out the first two batters he faced and fanning a third to end the game.
Mizzou and Southern Miss meet again Saturday (March 8) at 2 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, follow the team on Twitter (@mizzoubaseball) or check in to MUTigers.com.
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