Tigers Return to the Road to Face Texas Tech

MUTIGERS.COM Junior Ryan Ampleman
Junior Ryan Ampleman

April 29, 2010

Date: April 30-May 2, 2010
First Pitch: 6:30 p.m. / 5 p.m. / Noon
Series History: MU lead 35-19
Last Year's Series: MU swept series in Columbia
Stadium: Dan Law Field
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After back-to-back home conference series, Mizzou will take to the road for its next two series, beginning with a three-game set with Texas Tech this weekend in Lubbock ... The Tigers are 22-17 on the year and have a 6-8 record in the Big 12 ... TTU enters the weekend 24-21 overall and 10-8 in league play ... Missouri has won three in a row, including sweeping Kansas State in a doubleheader last Sunday at Taylor Stadium ... MU leads the all-time series with the Red Raiders, 25-19, and swept last year's season series in Columbia ... Game one of the weekend series is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with games to follow at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Noon on Sunday ... Next Tuesday, Mizzou will take on Missouri State at 6 p.m. at Taylor Stadium before a three-game series at Kansas next weekend.

Two five-run innings led Mizzou to a 10-2 win over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo. The Tigers took their first lead of the game with a five-run bottom of the third inning to go up 5-1, as they sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning. The first five Tigers to the plate in the third reached including senior Aaron Senne and freshman Dane Opel, who each drove in runs with doubles. Junior Ryan Ampleman also had an RBI hit in the third. Junior Brett Nicholas had a hit in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. He added a double in the fourth and a single in the sixth to finish the day 3-for-5. The Tigers put up another five-run inning in the seventh, starting with a two-run single from sophomore Ryan Gebhart. Senne capped off MU's half of the seventh inning with a three-run home run, which was his 11th of the season. Junior Tyler Clark started on the mound for just the second time in his career. He struck out a career-high nine batters in five innings pitched, allowing one run on five hits. The win was the fourth of his career. Junior Jeff Scardino pitched a perfect sixth inning and junior Zack Hardoin turned in two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Batting back-to-back in the Tigers' lineup, Missouri senior Aaron Senne and junior Brett Nicholas have provided as strong of 1-2 punch as there is in the Big 12 Conference. Senne ranks second in the Big 12 with a .421 batting average heading into the weekend, while Nicholas' .390 mark is fourth best in the league. Senne is fourth in the Big 12 in hits (64), second in home runs (11) and third in doubles (18). Nicholas has 14 doubles on the year, which ranks eighth in the conference. Nicholas (45) and Senne (44) rank fifth and sixth respectively in RBI in the Big 12. Both Senne and Nicholas have put together extensive hitting streaks this year. Senne had a 17-game streak from March 17-April 14 and Nicholas is currently riding a 15-game hitting streak.

Aaron Senne, who has already broken the school record for career doubles, now has Mizzou's career hits record in his sights. He enters the weekend series with Texas Tech with 271 career hits, just three behind school record holder Jayce Tingler (2000-2003). Senne had back-to-back two-double games on March 28-30 to set a new record for career doubles at Missouri. After doubling in consecutive at-bats against Texas A&M on March 28 to move into a tie for first with Ryan Fry (1995-98), Senne went 5-for-5 with a home run and two doubles against Purdue on March 30 to break the record. He now has 65 career doubles, putting him atop that list. Senne has 18 doubles on the year, which ranks third in the Big 12. His .421 average is second best in the conference. He hit his team-leading 11th home run of the year on Tuesday against Eastern Illinois and has 37 home runs for his career, which puts him in a tie with Cody Ehlers (2001-04) for fifth place on the career homers list. He is third in school history with 197 RBI. Senne returned to Mizzou this season for his senior year, passing up a chance to join his hometown Minnesota Twins organization. A native of Rochester, Minn., he was drafted by Minnesota in last June's Major League Baseball Draft, but chose to return to Missouri.

Junior Brett Nicholas takes a 15-game hitting streak heading into the week. During the current streak, Nicholas is hitting .452, with nine doubles, two home runs and 15 RBI. He began the streak with six-straight two-hit games and has had two hits in 12 of the 15 games during the streak. His current streak follows an eight-game hitting streak from March 7-19, as he hit .522 during that streak with three home runs and 12 RBI. He has recorded a hit in 30 of the 38 games in which he's had an at-bat this year and he has 22 multi-hit games. On the year, Nicholas is hitting .390 with seven home runs and a team-leading 45 RBI. Earlier in the year, he hit .444 with a slugging percentage of 1.444 in the three games against North Dakota. He had a home run in the series opener, then hit two homers in the first game of a Friday doubleheader. Nicholas hit .625 (5-for-8) in the Xavier series (March 12-14).

Missouri leads the all-time series with Texas Tech, 25-19 and has won seven out of the last 10 games between the two teams. The Tigers swept last year's series in Columbia 42-17 in the three games. [See page 6 for more on last year's series]. MU and TTU also met at last year's Big 12 Championship, with Texas Tech taking a 4-2 win. The last time the two met in Lubbock, the Red Raiders won the series, taking the final two games of the weekend after the Tigers won the opener 1-0.

As Mizzou returns to Big 12 play this weekend, it looks to carry the momentum from last Sunday's sweep of a doubleheader with Kansas State. A 10th inning, two-run single from freshman Dane Opel completed the Missouri sweep after a total of 19 innings were played on Sunday. Trailing by one in the ninth inning of the second game of the doubleheader, Mizzou tied the score when sophomore Ryan Gebhart scored on a sacrifice bunt by junior Ryan Ampleman, forcing extra innings. KSU regained the lead with a run in the top of the 10th, but had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the inning. With the bases loaded and two out in the Tigers' half of the 10th inning, Opel singled up the middle to drive in two runs, giving MU a 9-8 victory. The win completed the sweep of the twinbill after the Tigers took a 4-2 victory in game one. Junior Kelly Fick picked up the win after pitching five innings in relief. He struck out three and allowed just one run on two hits to improve to 2-0 on the year. In the opener of the doubleheader, junior Nick Tepesch took the victory as he allowed just one run and struck out five in 7.2 innings pitched. He has pitched at least seven inning in all five of his starts in Big 12 play. Redshirt freshman Andreas Plackis drove in the first runs of the opener with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning. He added a single in the third and finished 2-for-4. The Tigers plated two runs in the fourth as junior Jonah Schmidt and Gebhart started the inning with hits and later scored.

Aaron Senne had a 17-game hitting streak from March 17-April 14. The streak was the longest by a Tiger since Jayce Tingler hit safely in 24-straight games in 2002. Senne had at least two hits in six-straight games from April 4-11 and had three hits in five of those contests. During the 17-game stretch, he hit .551, with five home runs, 10 doubles and 24 RBI. The streak began when he went 2-for-3 in game two of a doubleheader with North Dakota on March 19. He had two hits in each of the first three games of the streak and has had 11 multi-hit games. That includes a four-hit game in the series finale with Texas A&M and a 5-for-5 night against Purdue on March 30. He was 3-for-5 in the series opener with Oklahoma, before recording two hits in game two. He closed the weekend with a 3-for-5 performance with four RBI. His last hit of the finale was a home run in the eighth inning that broke a tie score and took Mizzou to a 12-11 win. He earned his second Big 12 Conference Player of the Week award after the series at Oklahoma.

Head Coach Tim Jamieson has utilized 38 different lineups in 39 games this year. Jamieson's lineup on April 17 against Oklahoma State was identical to the lineup the previous night vs. OSU. That was the first repeated lineup of the season. Six different Tigers have been in the leadoff spot and four have hit cleanup. The spot in the lineup with the least amount of change is third spot where only two players (Aaron Senne 29 times, Brett Nicholas 10 times) have been slotted. The seventh spot has seen the most changes, as 11 different Tigers have hit in the seven hole.

Michael Liberto is one of just two seniors on the 2010 squad and heads into the week with a .346 average. Liberto had a nine-game game hitting streak from March 14-23, hitting .412 with a double, a triple and seven RBI during the streak. He has had at least one hit in all but eight games in which he has had an at-bat this season and has had multiple hits in 16 of the 36 games he played in this season. Liberto opened up the year by hitting .692 at the Collegiate Cactus Classic in Tucson. He was 9-for-13 in the three games with a double, a triple and three RBI. Liberto matched his career best with four hits in a 4-for-5 performance against Gonzaga in the season opener, with a triple and two RBI.

Nick Tepesch picked up his second-straight victory in the opener of last Sunday's doubleheader with Kansas State. Tepesch allowed just one run on seven hits and struck out five in 7.2 inning pitched to move to 4-3 on the year. A week earlier he recorded a win against Oklahoma State, striking out eight in seven innings pitched. He allowed just two runs on four hits. Tepesch has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts. In MU's conference opener, Tepesch turned in a season-long 7.1 innings pitched against Texas A&M, striking out four. Tepesch came within just one out of pitching his first career complete game against Baylor on April 3, when he struck out five in 8.2 innings pitched in the game, but took the loss. He struck out five and allowed three earned runs in seven innings pitched on April 9 against Oklahoma. Earlier, Tepesch picked up his first win against Auburn on Feb. 27, then struck out five in 6.1 innings pitched against TCU on March 6, but took a no decision in a 10-inning win by TCU. Tepesch allowed three runs, two of which were earned, on six hits in the game. In his start against Xavier, he left following just one inning of work after he was hit by a batted ball in the top of the first inning. Tepesch returned against North Dakota on March 19 and struck out eight in six innings pitched.

Next Tuesday, Mizzou will host Missouri State at 6 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. Next weekend, the Tigers travel to Lawrence, Kan. for a three-game series with Kansas.



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