MUTIGERS.com
Baseball Ties Iowa in Series Finale

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Eric Garcia</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Eric Garcia
MUTIGERS.COM

Oct. 9, 2011

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri Tigers tied the Iowa Hawkeyes 3-3 on Sunday (Oct. 9) at Taylor Stadium in the final game of the Joplin benefit series. The tie means that Mizzou finished its exhibition season with a 2-0-1 record. The game featured a good pitching performance by both teams, with Mizzou surrending 10 hits and Iowa giving up 7. The Tigers scored the final three runs of the game, all coming in the fifth inning or later. Missouri got an offensive boost from Brannon Champagne, who recorded a sacrifice bunt as well as a two-RBI single in the seventh inning that tied the game at 3-3.

Missouri trailed for the first time in its three exhibition games this season when Iowa scored a run in the top of the first. After the Tigers could not answer in the bottom of the inning, sophomore starter Rob Zastryzny came back with a strong inning, making quick work of the Hawkeyes while striking out two of the four batters he faced. Gavin Stark registered the Tigers' first hit of the game in the bottom of the second, turning an 0-2 count into a line drive single to center field. The Tigers failed to capitalize on their first base-runner of the game.

Iowa scored again in the third as the Hawkeyes singled with runners on second and third with two outs. A strong relay through Stark from center fielder Sal Belfonte nailed the second runner attempting to score on the play. Catcher Ben Turner made an excellent block of home plate, not allowing the Iowa runner to score. Turner then singled in his ensuing at bat the following half inning and advanced to second base on a throwing error. A wild pitch moved Turner to third during Belfonte's at bat which resulted in a walk. Dillon Everett's flyout in the next at bat ended the Mizzou threat.

Freshman Brandon Platts took over on the mound for Missouri in the fourth inning. Platts' second inning of the exhibition season was over quickly as he allowed no base runners. Conner Mach walked and then Stark forced another walk. Missouri again could not take advantage, and the score stayed at 2-0 favoring Iowa through the first four innings.

Brett Thomas relieved Platts in the fifth inning. Thomas quickly jumped on the first batter he faced, getting to an 0-2 count and eventually forcing a groundout. The next two Hawkeyes batters singled, putting Mizzou in a jam with runners on the corners and just one out. The Tigers turned to Jake Walsh in hopes of getting out unscathed, but a sacrifice bunt by the next Iowa batter successfully allowed a runner to score, increasing Iowa's advantage to three runs.

Scott Somerfeld started the bottom of the fifth inning with a walk, putting a runner on the bases for Missouri. Turner was then hit by a pitch, moving Somerfeld up to second base with no outs. Champagne's sacrifice bunt then advanced both runners, putting two runners in scoring position with one out. Belfonte's line drive to the left-center field gap was caught on a great diving catch, but Somerfeld tagged up to score from third, reducing the Iowa lead to just two runs.

After recording the first two outs of the sixth inning, Walsh was replaced by Dusty Ross. Ross's first pitch was hit into the right-center field gap, allowing Iowa to record a double with two outs. Ross then hit the ensuing batter on a 2-2 count, putting Iowa runners on first and second with two outs. But Ross then showed resilience in forcing a flyout to center field, holding Iowa off the board.

Blake Holovach took the mound for Mizzou in the seventh inning with runners on first and second and one out. Holovach pitched to a fielder's choice followed by a strikeout, preserving the two-run deficit. With Dane Opel's leadoff double, Mizzou appeared poised to crack into the Iowa lead, and the Tigers took advantage. Sommerfeld was then hit by a pitch, putting two base-runners on for the Tigers. Replacement catcher Jake Iovry then singled, loading the bases. Champagne's two-RBI single then tied the game at three.

John Miles took over for Holovach in the eighth inning, and held Iowa off of the board in the four outs that he pitched. Missouri could not score in the bottom of the inning, meaning the game went to the final inning still tied 3-3. Manager Tim Jamieson turned to Brett Graves to preserve the tie, and Graves did not disappoint. Graves pitched a scoreless final inning with help from middle infielders Eric Garcia and Nick Moore, who both made difficult defensive plays. The scoreless ninth meant that Mizzou successfully held Iowa off the board for the final four innings of the game. A scoreless bottom of the ninth meant that the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

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