Feb. 26, 2011
Charlotte, N.C. – Blake Brown’s two-run single in the 12th inning gave the Missouri Tigers (2-4 overall) a 4-2 win at Charlotte (6-1) as Mizzou earned a double-header split Saturday at Hayes Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. After Charlotte broke Tiger hearts in game one thanks to a walkoff two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to for a 3-2 game one win, Mizzou bounced back with outstanding pitching in game two.
Mizzou will try for a split of the four-game series Sunday, with the final game scheduled for 11 a.m. central.
Phil McCormick earned the win to improve to 1-1 on the year, thanks to four innings of relief where he allowed only one unearned run. McCormick retired the side in order in the 12th inning to preserve the win, and he allowed just two hits in four full innings, striking out three and walking two along the way.
McCormick’s performance backed the outstanding starting effort by senior lefty Jeff Scardino. Scardino got his first start of the season and went a career-long eight innings, and he left holding a 2-1 lead after allowing just five hits and striking out six.
But the 49ers, like they did in game one Saturday, rallied in their half of the ninth inning. However, this time they could only manage to tie the game, as McCormick worked around a one-out walk that was followed by a pair of Tiger errors. McCormick ended the inning with a strikeout with runners on 1st and 2nd.
Brown’s heroics were made possible after 1B Scott Sommerfeld led off the 12th with a single off the glove of the Charlotte second baseman. Ryan Gebhart, who tripled and scored in a two-run Tiger third inning, laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher, John Hamilton. But Hamilton slipped while fielding the ball, and his hurried throw was wide of first base, making everyone safe and putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Andrew Thigpen, who drove home Gebhart in the third with a sacrifice fly, popped out to short center for the first out, setting up Brown, who bounced one hard right over second base through a drawn-in infield for the game-winner. The 49ers opted to pitch to Brown with first base open, and the strategy looked good initially, as Brown was quickly behind in the count, 0-2.
Brown wasn’t surprised that he was pitched to, despite the open base.
“I wasn’t having a very good game at the plate, and the way they came at me with two sliders right away, it made sense to me,” said Brown, who went 2-for-6 with two RBI and a stolen base in the game. “I was able to get a good swing on that last one, thankfully. That was a scrappy win, we definitely needed it,” he said.
Coach Tim Jamieson was naturally pleased with the performance of his pitchers in the nightcap.
“I’m really proud of what Jeff Scardino and Phil McCormick did, they put up zeros when we had to have them,” Jamieson said. “We’re struggling at the plate right now, it seems like when we’d get guys in scoring position, it was too much pressure that they’re putting on themselves. (Scardino and McCormick) had to keep putting up zeros to keep us in the game,” Jamieson said.
Scardino opened his first start by striking out the side in the first inning on just 13 pitches. It was scoreless until the top of the third when the Tigers broke through with a pair of runs to take their first lead of more than one run in the series.
Things started when LF Ryan Gebhart laced a triple into the right field corner for the first three-bagger of the season by either the Tigers or their opponents this year. Gebhart scored a couple of pitches later when 3B Andrew Thigpen shot a fly into short center field. The ball was caught on the run by Charlotte CF Cory Tilton, but his throw home was high and unable to beat the speedy Gebhart, who tagged and advanced after seeing the throw wouldn’t be good enough to get him.
After Brown, who moved to the leadoff spot, was called out on strikes, RF Jonah Schmidt took out the frustrations of the last two one-run losses on a pitch that he crushed far over the left field wall to extend the lead to 2-0. It was Schmidt’s 11th career long ball and it represented the first Tiger home run of 2011.
Scardino faced only one batter over the minimum through six complete, before Charlotte pushed a run across in the seventh to close to within 2-1 on a one-out double followed by an RBI single.
The Tigers lost another golden scoring chance in their half of the eighth, when Gebhart was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single to center by Brown. Brown’s ball wasn’t hit sharply, and Gebhart appeared to get a good jump from second, but 49er CF Cory Tilton – who had the game-winning hit in the first game today – got to the ball quickly in short center and threw a strike to C Miguel Rodriguez, who applied the tag on the sliding Gebhart for the out.
Charlotte threatened in the eighth, but Scardino worked around a leadoff single by striking out Tilton with a runner on third base.
McCormick came in for third straight game, facing the meat of the order with a 2-1 lead in the ninth. He got #2 hitter Shane Brown to wave feebly at a third strike for out one. A walk to Shane Basen on a full count brought cleanup hitter Justin Wilson to the plate. Wilson grounded sharply to Andrew Thigpen near the third base bag, and Thigpen threw to second wildly, allowing Basen to advance to third. Corey Shaylor next hit a chopper to second, where 2B Conner Mach couldn’t handle the in-between hop, leaving all runners safe as Basen scored the tying run.
McCormick induced the second out as Justin Seager chopped a ball into the dirt in front of the plate. Catcher Andreas Plackis pounced on it quickly and threw to third to get the force out. That brought up Tony Montalbano, who McCormick struck out to end the inning. The run was unearned.
In the 10th inning, Mizzou put runners on 1st and 2nd thanks to a one-out single by Sommerfeld and a two-out walk by Thigpen, but Brown fouled out behind first base to end the threat.
Charlotte got a leadoff infield single in the 10th but after a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second base, McCormick got two straight ground outs to 2B Conner Mach to end the inning.
Brannon Champagne, a late-inning substitution in center field, led off the 11th with a walk. After a flyout to right by Conner Mach, Champagne was off with the pitch when Eric Garcia ground to the second baseman, who bobbled the ball leaving both runners safe with one out. Catcher Andreas Plackis smashed a ball right to shortstop, where it was bobbled enough to prevent the double play, but with runners at the corners, Dane Opel struck out to end the inning.
In the 49er 11th inning, McCormick got a strikeout with runners on the corners and two outs to end another rally.