March 25, 2012
Columbia, Mo. - In the rubber match of Mizzou's (14-8) series against Oklahoma State (13-11), the pitching remained as strong as it had been all series. Senior Jeff Emens got the start for Mizzou and he went 5.1 innings while giving up just one unearned run, throwing a season-high 70 pitches in the process as the Tigers won the series finale, 4-2, on a pair of eighth-inning runs.
Emens got off to a strong start, sitting the Cowboys down in order in the first. Conner Mach's two-out double down the right field line was the only hit of the inning for Mizzou, and the game went scoreless to the second inning. After a perfect top, Eric Garcia led off the bottom of the second with a hit-by-pitch. Scott Sommerfeld singled to left, and Dane Opel's sacrifice bunt advanced both runners. A fielder's choice on Stark's at-bat put runners on first and second with two outs as Garcia was thrown out going home. Dillon Everett's single to center scored Sommerfeld from second to give the Tigers a one-run lead heading to the third inning. After retiring the first two batters, Emens allowed his first hit of the game with a single to center, but forced a groundout from the following batter. After Mizzou went down scoreless, Oklahoma State threatened with runners on first and second and no outs. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with one out, then a fielder's choice made the score 1-1 with a runner on third and two outs before Emens fanned the final batter of the inning. Sommerfeld's single was the only hit in the bottom of the fourth, as the Tigers were unable to score in the frame.
Emens surrendered a single in the fifth, but that was the only Cowboy hit of the inning. Blake Brown singled with one out in the bottom of the fifth, then stole second during Brannon Champagne's at-bat and advanced to third on a throwing error. Champagne's sacrifice bunt on the next pitch scored Brown from third to give Mizzou a 2-1 lead heading to the sixth inning. After Emens retired the first batter of the sixth, Dusty Ross entered the game to take over on the mound. Ross forced an out against the first batter he faced, then gave up a single before forcing a flyout to end the inning. Sommerfeld singled to center with two outs, the only Tiger hit of the inning, and the Tigers brought a 2-1 lead to the final three innings.
Ross fought his way through the seventh inning, giving up a two-out unearned run after an error prevented the Tigers from ending the inning one batter earlier. He was replaced by John Miles
with two outs in the inning, and Miles was able to hold three Cowboy runners stranded with the score 2-2. Stark led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left, but was then doubled-off as a hit-and-run was stopped with a fly to right. Miles induced a pop out to start the eighth, a 1-2-3 inning. Champagne led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, then stole second before Mach advanced him with a groundout to second. Ben Turner
walked to put runners on the corners for Garcia, whose tapper to short kept runners on the corners with one out as Champagne beat the throw to the plate to take a 3-2 lead. Sommerfeld's sacrifice fly to right scored Turner from third to take a 4-2 lead to the final frame for Jake Walsh
Walsh struck out the first batter after reaching a full count, then froze the second batter with an fastball on the inside corner on another 3-2 pitch. He then induced a pop out to second base to seal the game and series win for the Tigers.
The Tigers now have a two-game series against Central Arkansas that starts Tuesday (March 27) at 6 PM in Taylor Stadium. Keep up to date with Mizzou baseball by following the team's twitter page (@MUTigerBaseball) or by checking in to MUTigers.com.