Mizzou Splits Double Header with No. 5 South Carolina

<i>Brett Graves pitched his first career complete game in game one.</i>

Brett Graves pitched his first career complete game in game one.

March 16, 2013

Game 1 Box Score |Game 2 Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Mizzou (6-9, 1-2 SEC) scored its first win over a top-five opponent since May 26, 2010, against No. 1 Texas in a split a pair of games on Saturday (March 16) with No. 5 South Carolina (17-3, 2-1) at Taylor Stadium. Mizzou dropped the first game, 2-0, before rallying to win the nightcap, 4-0. The Tigers allowed just two runs over the 18 innings played Saturday, holding South Carolina at bay for the final 13 innings of the Saturday set. Game one starter Brett Graves went the distance, throwing his first collegiate complete game despite dropping a 2-0 decision, racking up four strikeouts in his effort.

Alec Rash got the start in game two, but it was Keaton Steele that stole the show on the mound by throwing six innings, striking out seven and allowing just three hits along the way to earn his second win of the season. After the Tigers were shutout in game one, Dylan Kelly stepped up in game two by going 3-for-5 from the plate with two doubles, one for a RBI in the first inning. In all, the Tiger pitching staff allowed just three earned runs to South Carolina all weekend and out-hit the Gamecock, 23-19, in the three-game series. The Tiger pitching staff limited South Carolina to just a .183 batting average over the three game as well and just two extra-base hits. For the day, Dillon Everett put together a 4-for-6 performance while Kelly went 3-for-8 over the two games and seven of the 10 Tigers with at-bats on Saturday finished with hits in the two games.

Graves worked a quick first, forcing three flyouts to right, and Dane Opel notched the only hit of the first inning with an infield single. The Gamecocks threatened in the second after back-to-back two-out singles from Connor Bright and Kyle Martin, but Graves forced a groundout to end the inning. Belcher sat the Tigers down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame to keep it scoreless through two. South Carolina scored in the third after Joey Pankake singled in Max Schrock for a 1-0 lead. Dillon Everett supplied the only hit of the inning for Mizzou, a single to center.

After a scoreless fourth, Chase Vergason launched a home run over the wall in right, a solo shot to put South Carolina up 2-0 before Mizzou was retired in order in the bottom of the fifth. The teams traded hitless frames, with Graves and Belcher keeping hitters off balance through the seventh.

Graves kept the Gamecocks hitless again in the eighth, and Dillon Everett singled with two outs in the eighth to end a streak of 12 consecutive Mizzou batters retired by Belcher. Graves again held South Carolina off the bases in the ninth, and Dane Opel singled with an out in the bottom of the frame to force a pitching change from the Gamecocks, who went to Tyler Webb for the save. He got a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.

Rash allowed just one hit in the first inning of game two, a line drive single to Vergason. Mizzou took its first lead of the series in the bottom of the inning, as Kelly doubled in Opel for a 1-0 lead. The Gamecocks threatened in the second after an error and a walk with two outs, but a great defensive play by Kendall Keeton diffused the threat. Two walks to start the second put Mizzou in a position to score, and Everett's bloop single loaded the bases with one out. Keeton's infield single scored a run for a 2-0 lead, and a wild pitch gave Mizzou a three-run cushion, forcing a pitching change from the Gamecocks. Adam Westmoreland entered the game, and he got out of the inning unharmed.

Schrock singled to lead off the third, and a walk to Vergason put two on with no outs. A flyout to center by Pankake put runners on the corners with one out, and Schrock tried to score on a flyout to center, but Pearson's perfect throw beat him to the plate to keep the Gamecocks scoreless. The Tigers got back-to-back singles with two outs in the third from Jake Ivory and Josh Lester, but they were held scoreless. Keaton Steele entered to pitch in the fourth, and his scoreless frame was highlighted by a beautiful 1-6-3 double play.

Steele breezed through the fifth without allowing a baserunner, and Kelly singled with one out in the bottom of the inning before Munson and Ivory were hit by pitches. The bases were left full, holding the Mizzou lead at three. The Gamecocks were held off the board again in the sixth, and Everett led off with a double in the bottom of the frame but was left stranded. Steele remained strong through the seventh, and Kelly's leadoff single forced USC into a pitching change, going to Patrick Sullivan. A one-out single by Ivory put two on, and Lester walked to load the bases. A fielder's choice on a bouncer off Shane Segovia's bat made the score 4-0 after seven.

Both teams went scoreless in the eighth, and Steele closed the game with a scoreless ninth to seal a home victory. Mizzou takes on Arkansas State in a midweek series before heading to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers next weekend. For the latest on Mizzou baseball, follow the team on Twitter (@MUTigerBaseball) or check in to MUTigers.com.



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