Mizzou Upends No. 6 Texas A&M, 4-3

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Brannon Champagne gunned down the tying run at the plate to end the game.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Brannon Champagne gunned down the tying run at the plate to end the game.
MUTIGERS.COM

March 31, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Mizzou baseball team knocked off No. 6 Texas A&M, 4-3, in a thrilling game on Saturday (March 31) at Blue Bell Ball Park. Tiger lefty Blake Holovach continued his recent domination by earning his fifth win of the season after throwing 6.1 innings, including five no-hit innings, with just three earned runs. He extended his streak to 24 innings without an earned run until getting tagged with three in the seventh.

Texas A&M's Ross Stripling was tagged with his first loss of the season. The highlight of the game came on the final play of the game as Brannon Champagne gunned down the would-be tying run at the plate to end the game. Champagne was also the Tigers' top hitter on Saturday, going 2-4 with a run and an RBI.

With the win, Mizzou is now 16-10 on the season and 3-2 in Big 12 play. The game began and Stripling was dealing in the first inning as he retired the side in order, all three on soft ground balls. Holovach was equally as impressive as he took the hill in the bottom of the frame, inducing three groundouts on just 13 pitches in the first. He threw nine of his 13 pitches in the first inning for strikes.

Both pitchers continued to mow through the batting orders in the second inning as both turned in 1-2-3 innings. Through two innings of work, Holovach had thrown just 23 pitches, 15 of which were for strikes. Stripling was equally as impressive, throwing just 25 pitches, 19 for strikes as the teams went scoreless to the third inning.

The two pitchers were both nearly perfect through three with the only blemish being a hit batter by Holovach in the bottom of the third. With both teams hitless through the first three innings, Brown came up and led off the fourth with a home run to left field, breaking the scoreless tie. The bomb was his seventh of the season, matching his total from a season ago.

Immediately following Brown's bomb Champagne, the Tigers' two-hole hitter, put together a great at-bat before singling through the left side on a full count, after fouling off a variety of pitches from Stripling. Conner Mach then drew a four-pitch walk and Dane Opel bunted the runners to second and third with just one out. Scott Sommerfeld then was robbed of a single by A&M shortstop Mikey Reynolds, but it drove in a run as Mizzou took a 2-0 lead.

 

 

Holovach was good again in the bottom of the fourth as he worked around a two-out walk as he took a no-hitter through four innings. Mizzou threatened again in the top of the fifth as Eric Garcia led off with a single into right and after he was sacrificed to second, Dillon Everett walked on four pitches, bringing Brown to the plate. But he struck out looking and then Champagne laced a two-out single to left center that put the Tigers on top, 3-0, scoring Garcia from second.

Mach then came up with a chance to drive in another run but quickly fell behind Stripling, 0-2, in the at-bat. But he battled back, fouling off several pitches before singling to the right side to drive in Everett from third base, putting Mizzou on top, 4-0. Holovach then went back to the mound and then retired the side on just six pitches in the fifth inning. He threw just 54 pitches through the first five innings.

The Aggies broke up Holovach's no-hitter in the sixth inning with back-to-back, one-out singles. But he rallied to strikeout Tyler Naquin looking and then induced a 1-3 groundout by Jacob House to get out of the inning. The Aggies finally got to Holovach in the seventh inning as a leadoff double by Matt Junegel led to the first earned run scored off of Holovach in 24.0 IP.

Texas A&M tagged Holovach for two more runs before Jeff Emens came on in relief with one out in the seventh. While facing two-hole hitter Kray Bratsen, the Tigers were able to catch the Aggies at home on an attempted squeeze play for the second out and then Emens struck out Bratsen to preserve the Tiger lead at 4-3 heading to the eighth.

Mizzou looked to add some insurance in the eighth inning as it put runners on second and third with one out, but Ben Turner struck out swinging and then Eric Garcia grounded out to short to leave the insurance runs on base. Emens came out and continued to pitch well in the eighth, sitting down the Aggies in order. After a scoreless top of the ninth, Emens came back out in the bottom of the ninth and after striking out the first batter of the inning, he walked a batter who later advanced to second on a ground out, putting the runner in scoring position with two outs. Pinch hitter Chance Bolocerek then ripped a single into center field, but Champagne gunned the runner down at the plate to preserve the Tiger win, 4-3.

The Tigers and Aggies will play game three of the series tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.

Notes
- Blake Brown hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season in the top of the fourth inning. His seven home runs match his total from a season ago. The run was the first earned run that Stripling has allowed against the Tigers in his career and the fourth home run given up by Stripling this season.

- Brannon Champagne extended his hitting streak to 10 games and his streak of reaching base safely to a team-best 18 games with a single in the fourth inning, immediately following Brown's solo shot.

- Ben Turner stole his first career base in the sixth inning on Saturday.

- Blake Holovach went 5.1 IP without allowing a hit to the Aggies, who entered the game hitting .314 as a team.

- Holovach took a shutout into the sixth before the Aggies tallied a one-out RBI single in the inning, ending Holovach's streak at 24.0 IP without an earned run, dating back to his complete game shutout against High Point three starts ago.

- Holovach as a starter now has a 1.27 ERA in 35.2 IP with just 23 hits and 22 Ks with a WHIP of 0.88.

- Mizzou used its scheduled Sunday starter Jeff Emens in relief of Holovach on Saturday as he pitched 2.2 innings of work while not allowing a run, including stranding a pair of Holovach's runners stranded in scoring position in the seventh inning. He earned his first save of the season in the effort. - 5,535 fans attended Saturday's game, the largest post-renovation crowd at Blue Bell Park in history. The park was renovated in the offseason.

- The win for the Tigers' is their first over a ranked opponent since defeating Texas, 2-1, in last year's Big 12 Tournament.

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