Blake Brown's solo homer in the seventh was the decisive run for the Tigers.
May 28, 2011
Audio Highlights Courtesy of KTGR
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Senior lefty Kelly Fick threw 7.0 innings of shutout baseball, helping the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the top seeded Texas Longhorns in an elimination game of the Big 12 Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Bricktown Ballpark. The win means that the Tigers will play for the Big 12 Championship against second-seeded Texas A&M at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The game will air live on FSN. It will mark the Tigers' third Big 12 Tournament title game as Mizzou is the first No. 8 seed to advance to the championship game.
With a No. 21 Mizzou baseball jersey from tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., Fick - who wears No. 21, the same number as the jersey that survived the tornado in Joplin - pitched the game of his life on Saturday to help the Tigers to the title game. A normal middle reliever for the Tigers, Fick threw 7.0 shutout innings while allowing just four Texas hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three en-route to the win. It was Fick's first start since May 27, 2010, which also came at the Big 12 Tournament.
"To be quite honest with you, we wouldn't have given him the ball if we didn't think he could do it, but to think he was going to give us seven innings, that's beyond expectations," head coach Tim Jamieson said. "He hasn't done that all year. He's not conditioned to do that. He was very efficient with the pitch count. He had a good outing against Nebraska last weekend where he got extended a little bit but I didn't expect this. I expected him to compete and I expected him to do well, I just didn't expect him to go seven innings."
"Coach (Matt) Hobbs told me before the game to see it as a relief outing and just attack guys whether I gave them one or four or five innings," Fick said. "I was able to keep my pitch count down and change speeds and locate my fastball so I was able to go deeper in the game. I only threw a few curves but my changeup was really working today. Like I said it was all working off my fastball because I could put that where I wanted to and then I could just expand with the changeup."
Fick was given very little run support by the Tigers on Saturday, but he got two runs and that was all that the Tigers needed. Jesse Santo went 1-4 with a key BRI double in the second inning to give Mizzou a 1-0 lead. Sophomore outfielder Blake Brown had the game-winning hit as he launched a solo shot to left on the first pitch of the seventh inning. He went 1-2 with a run and an RBI. The Tigers were able to muster just three hits against Texas, but that was all that they needed. Senior lefty Phil McCormick pitched the final five outs to earn his eighth save of the season.
Mizzou got on the board early as it took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Jonah Schmidt led off the inning with a single up the middle but after back-to-back outs by Brown and Turner, it appeared that he could be stranded on first base. However, Santo ripped a double into the gap in left center, scoring Schmidt all the way from first. The double for Santo was just his fifth extra-base hit this season.
Fick continued to baffle the Texas hitters through the next four innings, keeping them scoreless though a career-best seven innings. Fick got out of the sixth due in large part to great defensive plays by CJ Jarvis and Santo. Jarvis snagged a screaming line drive that was headed for extra bases at third, saving a run. Santo then got to a ball deep in the hole at short and Eric Garcia made a great pick at first for the third out, getting Fick through the sixth inning.
Then, on the very first pitch of the seventh, Brown launched a solo shot to left field, good for his seventh of the year, giving Mizzou a 2-0 lead.
"I just really wanted to attack," Brown said after the game. "I was really passive earlier today and I was taking too many strikes so I was out there just trying to hunt fastballs and I got a couple of hits and put the bat on the ball."
After Dusty Ross allowed a run in the eighth inning, McCormick came on to earn his eighth save of the season, including pitching out of a jam in the eighth inning. A win tomorrow would be Mizzou's first-ever Big 12 Tournament title and would give the Tigers the league's automatic NCAA Tournament berth. The game will air live on Fox Sports and fans can also listen to the game on KTGR 1580 AM/100.5 FM as Tex Little and Hunter Mense will have the call. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MUTigerBaseball.
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