May 7, 2011
MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Mizzou baseball team dropped the middle of a three-game series to Kansas State, 8-5, on Saturday afternoon (May 7) at Tointon Family Stadium on Manhattan. Junior starter Matt Stites was tagged with the loss in the game after going just 2.2 innings and allowing three earned runs on three hits, but he struggled with command, walking four and throwing 68 pitches. Conner Mach and Jonah Schmidt both hit home runs and Brannon Champagne extended his hit streak to seven games, but it was not enough to overcome the Wildcat lineup, which plated eight runs on 13 hits.
The top of the Tiger order was productive on Saturday, led by Champagne who went 1-5 with a pair of RBI. Mach went 1-4 with a home run and Eric Garcia went 2-3 with a run scored. Schmidt also went 2-4 with a home run as well and Blake Brown went 1-3 with an RBI. But Mizzou's pitching staff struggled to slow the K-State lineup in the game, most notably the first five hitters, who combined for nine hits and six RBI.
The Wildcats got to Stites in the third inning, tagging him for three runs. Stites balked in the first run and then Jason King doubled to score Jake Brown, putting the Wildcats on top, 2-0. Jared King then singled to score his brother Jason King and Stites walked the next batter, ending his day. Jeff Emens then came on and got the Tigers out of a bases-loaded jam with one pitch, but K-State took a 3-0 lead.
Mizzou chipped away at the lead in the fourth as Schmidt launched his fifth home run of the season on a 1-2 pitch off of K-State starter Matt Applegate, putting the Tigers on the board. The solo shot came with two outs and pulled the Tigers closer at 3-1. The home run was Schmidt's first since April 10th in the series finale at Oklahoma State.
But K-State countered with a run in its half of the fourth after a lead-off double by Dan Klein led to another Wildcat run and a 4-1 lead. The run came off of Emens, who nearly pitched around the lead-off double but gave up a single to Jason King with two outs in the inning.
The Tigers continued to rally in the fifth, using a huge two-out hit from Champagne with the bases loaded. After back-to-back walks by Jesse Santo and CJ Jarvis, Andrew Thigpen popped up on the infield. Mach then walked to load the bases and Champagne laced his RBI single on a 2-1 count back up the middle, scoring Santo and Jarvis and cutting into the lead at 4-3. The RBI for Champagne are his 15th and 16th of the season and the hit extended his hitting streak to seven straight games. Schmidt bounced out to third to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded, but, Mizzou was able to cut into the lead.
K-State threatened in the bottom of the fifth as a double to the gap by Klein threatened to drive in Wade Hinkle, but a perfect relay by Champagne and Thigpen gunned him down at the plate, keeping KSU off to board. But just as it looked as if Mizzou had grabbed some momentum, the Wildcats scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-3 lead.
Mach launched his second home run of the season in the top of the seventh, a solo shot to left field, to cut into the K-State lead at 7-4. But K-State tacked on another run in the seventh to go up 8-4. Blake Brown knocked in a run in the eighth, but Mizzou left two runners on base in that inning and KSU All-American James Allen closed out the game from there. The loss drops Mizzou to-20-27 on the season and 7-12 in Big 12 play.
With a series win on the line, Mizzou and K-State will play their series finale tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.