April 15, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. - The Mizzou baseball team dropped its series finale at Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon (April 15), 5-4, at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman. Tiger freshman Brett Graves made his second start of the week and was charged with his fourth loss of the season as he went 2.2 innings, allowing three earned runs. OU's Jonathan Gray earned the win after giving up just two earned runs in 5.2 innings. Mizzou is now 18-17 overall and 3-9 in Big 12 play. Nine of the last 12 games between Mizzou and OU have been decided by two or fewer runs.
The sweep for the Sooners is the first in the series by either team since 2006 when the Sooners won all three against the Tigers in Norman. Mizzou held the lead in all three games on the weekend, including on Sunday as is scored two runs in the third inning before allowing a three-spot in the bottom half of the frame. Brannon Champagne extended his streak to 27 straight games reaching base safely, which is the second-best active streak in the Big 12. Ben Turner led the Tigers are the plate, going 3-5.
Oklahoma threatened to score off of Graves in the first inning as leadoff hitter Erik Ross tagged a double off the wall in right field to open the game. But Graves got a flyout to center and then induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Max White, stranding runners on the corners. After Mizzou was retired in order in the top of the second, Graves came back out and retired the OU side in the bottom half of the frame.
The Tigers - just as they did in all three games of the series - got on the board first on Sunday as Turner, hitting in the three-hole for the first time this season, roped a one-out double to right center field to score Champagne and Conner Mach, giving Mizzou a 2-0 lead.
After breezing through the first two innings, Graves ran into trouble in the third as he gave up an RBI single to Erik Ross and a two-out double off the wall in center by White as the Sooners took a 3-0 lead. That gave way to Jeff Emens
, who came on in relief of Graves.
He retired the first two batters that he faced before allowing a one-out triple in the bottom of the fourth to Evan Mistich before he was batted in by Garrett Carey to give OU a 4-2 lead. The Tigers continued to struggle to plate any runs in the fifth as Mach was the only player to reach base in the inning, drawing a one-out walk, but he was stranded on first base to end the frame.
Mizzou knocked OU starter Jonathan Gray out of the game in the sixth inning with two outs as it loaded the bases. But Steven Okert struck out Dillon Everett to end the threat, preserving OU's 4-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning. The Tigers again loaded the bases in the seventh inning after a pair of hit batters and a walk, but Eric Garcia grounded into a fielder's choice to short, ending the threat.
From there, Tiger reliever Dusty Ross came on to try and keep the Tigers within striking distance of the Sooners, but he allowed a one-out double in the bottom of the seventh to Ross, his fourth hit of the day off of Tiger pitching. Caleb Bushyhead then hit the Sooners' second double of the inning with two outs, scoring Ross and extending the Sooner lead to 5-2.
The Tigers put runners on the corners again in the eighth inning. Things then got interesting in the ninth as Michael McGraw tallied a two-run double with two outs in the ninth to plate a pair of runs, but Scott Sommerfeld grounded out to third, stranding McGraw in scoring position and ending the game.
The Tigers will have a few days off before welcoming Kansas State to Taylor Stadium for a three-game set next weekend. That series begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.
- Brannon Champagne walked in the top of the third, extending his streak to 27 straight games reaching base safely. That is now the second-best active streak in the Big 12, trailing only Texas leadoff hitter Mark Payton (31 straight games).
- Conner Mach hit in the leadoff spot for the first time this season and went 2-4. Of course this is worth noting because when he was moved to the leadoff spot last season, it sparked the Tigers to four straight Big 12 series wins and a run to the Big 12 Championship Game at the Big 12 Tournament. As a leadoff hitter, Mach is now 34-for-102 (.333) in his career.
- The Tigers scored first in all three games of the series despite losing all three games. The sweep marks the first for the Sooners against the Tigers since 2006, also coming in Norman.
- Blake Brown saw his 21-game hit streak come to an end just five shy of the school record. It is still the best by a Big 12 player this season.
- Ben Turner hit in the three-hole for the first time this season and went 3-5 to lead Mizzou at the plate.