Feb. 25, 2011
Charlotte, N.C. - A ninth inning rally fell short for the Missouri Tigers as they dropped a 5-4 game to the Charlotte 49ers Friday evening in Charlotte, N.C. The teams will play a double-header Saturday (11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., central), and will wrap up the four-game series with a single game Sunday (11 a.m., central).
Mizzou (1-3 overall) held a 4-2 lead after scoring three runs in the fifth inning, but the 49ers, the defending Atlantic 10 Conference champions, tied the game with two in their half of the sixth and got a two-out single in the seventh to take the lead.
The Tigers had a golden opportunity to rally in their last at-bat, as they got the first two batters on. Catcher Andreas Plackis doubled off the base of the wall in right field to lead off against 49er reliever Bryan Hamilton. The next batter, LF Blake Brown, walked on a full count to give Mizzou first and second with no outs.
Ryan Ampleman pinch hit and tried to sacrifice the runners over, but his bunt went straight to the mound, and Hamilton wheeled to throw pinch runner Ryan Gebhart out at third base for the first out. After Jesse Santo struck out, Brannon Champagne tapped out to Hamilton, who threw to first for the final out.
The loss spoiled a solid start by junior RHP Matt Stites. Stites did not get the decision as he went 5.2 effective innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while striking out three and walking three. He left the game in the bottom of the sixth with a 4-3 lead, but the 49ers plated one more run in the frame off of reliever Phil McCormick on an error by 3B Jesse Santo with two outs that would have ended the inning.
After the Tigers went down in order in their half of the seventh, Charlotte's Justin Wilson led off with a single and was at second with two outs after a stolen base. Right-handed reliever James Hudelson was brought in for a righty-vs.-righty matchup against Shane Basen, but Basen won the battle and singled to center to bring across what was eventually the winning run. McCormick was the hard-luck loser, as he was charged with the loss to fall to 0-1 on the year. He finished with one full inning pitched, and allowed just one hit while striking out three of the five batters he faced.
Coach Tim Jamieson's squad struck first on the day, as CF Brannon Champagne led off the game with a single to left. He stole second and moved to third with one out on a ground out to short by RF Jonah Schmidt. Shortstop Eric Garcia promptly lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Champagne for a 1-0 lead.
That's the way the score stood until the bottom of the third when Charlotte took a 2-1 lead. A leadoff single and sacrifice bunt was followed by a windblown ball to left field that Blake Brown couldn't corral in the swirling 20-mile per hour wind. The ball fell near his feet at the warning track in left field, but because Brown never touched the ball, the play was ruled a double, and Charlotte had runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. A single and a fielder's choice followed and the 49ers held a 2-1 lead.
Mizzou wasn't done, however, as the Tigers scored three runs with two outs in the top of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Brown led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to five games (including all four this season). He was erased on a steal attempt of second, but 1B Scott Sommerfeld followed with a single through the left side. After a fly out by Santo, Champagne singled to center and Jonah Schmidt doubled just inside the third base bag to score Sommerfield to tie the game at 2-apiece. Eric Garcia appeared to have grounded out to first to end the inning, but Charlotte 1B Kevin Gillespie allowed a dribbler near the bag to go under his glove into right field. That scored both runners and gave MU a 4-2 lead.
Champagne was 2-for-5 at the plate and scored two runs to lead MU's 8-hit attack Friday. Junior 2B Conner Mach, who went 1-for-4 on the night, singled in the fourth inning to extend his personal hitting streak to 12 games dating back to last season. He now has six hits in four games in 2011 and is hitting .400 for the year (6-for-15 overall).
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