Mizzou Heads South for Auburn Classic

MUTIGERS.COM Junior Nick Tepesch
Junior Nick Tepesch

Feb. 24, 2010

Date: February 26-28, 2010
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Stadium: Plainsman Park
Radio: KTGR 100.5 FM/1580-AM
Live Audio: KTGR.com
More Information: mutigers.com

MU Schedule:
Friday vs. Florida Atlantic, 2 p.m.
Saturday vs. Auburn, 3 p.m.
Sunday vs. Boston College, 11 a.m.


After going 2-1 at last weekend's Cactus Classic in Tucson, Ariz. to open the 2010 season, Missouri will travel to Auburn, Ala., this week for the Auburn Classic. The Tigers will open the Classic against Florida Atlantic at 2 p.m. on Friday, followed by a matchup with Auburn at 3 p.m. on Saturday and a contest against Boston College at 11 a.m. on Sunday. All games will be played at Samford Stadium at Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park on the campus of Auburn University. A complete schedule of the Auburn Classic is below. The Tigers dropped their season opener 10-6, to Gonzaga last Friday, but won their next two games. They came from behind on Saturday, scoring 13 runs between the seventh and eighth innings to defeat Washington 17-6. On Sunday, Missouri used extra innings to take a 2-1 win over New Mexico State. The Tigers scored the game-winning run when sophomore Conner Mach was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning. All four teams in this week's Auburn Classic enter the weekend with a 2-1 record. The only team the Tigers have met before is Auburn (MU defeated Auburn 5-4 in 1996). Mizzou has never faced Florida Atlantic or Boston College before this weekend. The trip to Alabama is the second of three-straight weekends Missouri will spend on the road to open the 2010 season. Next week, the Tigers will play in the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Their first home action is on March 10 against Western Illinois. That game opens a 10-game homestand for Mizzou at Taylor Stadium.



Of the three opponents for MU this weekend, only Auburn has faced the Mizzou before. The Tigers of Missouri and the Tigers of Auburn met in 1996, with Mizzou taking a 5-4 win at the South Alabama Tournament in Mobile, Ala. Florida Atlantic and Boston College are two of the six teams on the 2010 schedule that Missouri has never faced.

Michael Liberto, one of just two seniors on the 2010 squad, opened up the year by hitting .692 at last weekend's Collegiate Cactus Classic in Tucson. Liberto was 9-for-13 in the three games with a double, a triple and three RBI. He opened the weekend by matching his career best with four hits in a 4-for-5 performance against Gonzaga last Friday, with a triple and two RBI. On Saturday, Liberto was 3-for-4 with a double and a run driven in against Washington. He closed the Cactus Classic by going 2-for-4 on Sunday against New Mexico State. Liberto was also a part of turning six double plays in the three games. He is the second leading hitter in the Big 12 after the first weekend of action. Liberto, who transferred to Missouri from Delgado Community College before the 2009 season, hit .243 last year in his first season at MU, starting 59 of the 60 games in which he played.

The roster for Missouri is loaded with new names in 2010. At last weekend's Collegiate Cactus Classic in Tucson, Ariz., a total of 10 players saw their first playing time for Missouri. Freshmen Dane Opel (5-for-8) and Blake Brown (4-for-8) lead the MU newcomers at the plate. Brown had three hits in his debut on Friday against Gonzaga. Opel made his first appearance on Saturday against Washington and went 4-for-5 with an RBI and four runs scored. Another freshman, Brannon Champagne, got his first career start on Saturday, going 2-for-4 in that game. Junior Brett Nicholas, who transferred to MU from Scottsdale Community College, hit the first home run of the year for Mizzou, connecting on a two-run shot in the season opener against Gonzaga. On the mound, junior Zack Hardoin, a transfer from Blinn College, made two appearances and did not allow a run or a hit in 2.2 innings pitched. He picked up the win on Saturday against Washington with a scoreless inning of work. Junior Aaron Blunt, a transfer from Mineral Area College, started Sunday's game against New Mexico State and allowed just one run on seven hits in five innings pitched.
Below is a rundown of the first weekend for the MU newcomers:
Andreas Plackis (RSFr.): 1.000 (1-for-1)
Dane Opel (Fr.): .625 (5-for-8), 1 triple, 4 runs, 1 RBI
Blake Brown (Fr.): .500 (4-for-8), 2 runs, 2 RBI
Brannon Champagne (Fr.): .250 (2-for-8), 2 runs, 1RBI
Kale Gaden (Fr.): .200 (1-for-5), 2 runs
Brett Nicholas (Jr.): .154 (2-for-13), 1 HR, 2 runs, 4 RBI
Jesse Santo (Jr.): .000 (0-for-3), 1 BB, 2 SF, 2 RBI
Zack Hardoin (Jr.): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.2 IP, 3 K
Aaron Blunt (Jr.): 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 5.0 IP, 1 K
Jeff Scardino (Jr.): 0-1, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP

The Mizzou bullpen was impressive in the two wins by the Tigers last weekend. On Saturday, the bullpen turned in four scoreless and hitless innings of work, allowing just one walk. Junior Zack Hardoin was the first reliever and earned the win with a scoreless inning pitched. Juniors Tyler Clark and Kelly Fick and sophomore Jeff Emens followed and each turned in a scoreless inning of work. In the final game of the weekend, four MU relievers teamed to turn in five scoreless innings pitched, allowing just two hits over that time. Clark gave up a leadoff double in the sixth inning, but struck out the next three batters to get out of the frame. Hardoin and Emens each had two strikeouts in 1.2 innings on the mound. Junior Phil McCormick faced one batter in the top of the 10th inning and forced a double play to end a scoring threat by New Mexico State.

Aaron Senne returned to Mizzou this year for his senior year, passing up a chance to join his hometown Minnesota Twins organization. Senne, a native of Rochester, Minn., was drafted by Minnesota in last June's Major League Baseball Draft, but chose to return to Missouri. Last Saturday, Senne hit his first home run of 2010. It was the 27th homer of his career, which puts him 12th all-time at Missouri. His next home run will move him into a tie for 10th with Mike Rallo (1997-2000) and Aaron Jaworowski (1995-97). Senne ranks ninth in school history with 157 RBI. He has 210 career hits, which is 17 out of the top-10 all-time at Mizzou and 64 behind the career record holder (Jayce Tingler, 2000-03). He is eighth in the MU record books with 47 doubles, nine away from the record (Ryan Fry, 1995-98).

After this weekend's trip to Auburn, Ala., Mizzou will play in the Houston College Classic in Houston, Texas next weekend. The Tigers will take on Houston (Friday, 3:30 p.m.), TCU (Saturday, Noon) and Texas (Sunday, 11 a.m.) as part of the Houston College Classic, which will be played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. Following that, the Tigers will play their next 10 games at Taylor Stadium beginning with the home opener against Western Illinois at 6:30 p.m. on March 10.

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