Missouri Heads to Big 12 Championship

MUTIGERS.COM Junior Brett Nicholas
Junior Brett Nicholas

May 25, 2010

MAY 26-30, 2010 • OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.

Mizzou Schedule:
Wednesday: MU vs. Texas, 12:30 p.m.
Thursday: MU vs. Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: MU vs. Texas Tech, 9 a.m.
Sunday: Championship Game, 1 p.m.
Stadium: Bricktown Ballpark (13,066)
Radio: KTGR 100.5-FM / 1580-AM
Live Audio: KTGR.com
Live Video: big12sports.com
Live Gametracker: mutigers.com

GAMENOTES Get Acrobat Reader

The Big 12 Championship gets underway on Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Okla. ... Mizzou is the No. 8 seed in the tournament and will open play against top-seeded Texas at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday ... The Tigers will then face No. 4 seed Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and No. 5 seed Texas Tech at 9 a.m. on Saturday ... The other pool consists of No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Kansas State, No. 6 Baylor and No. 7 Kansas ... The winners of the two pools will meet in the Championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday ... Missouri is 27-25 on the year and finished the regular season with a 10-16 mark in the conference ... Live video for all of the games of the Big 12 Championship will be available at big12sports.com.

Missouri made its second appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game last season, falling to Texas by a score of 12-7. The Tigers advanced to the championship game by winning its pool, which consisted of Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. MU, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, opened play in Oklahoma City by taking a 5-2 win over Texas A&M. It was the fifth time in six years in which Missouri had won its opening game of the Big 12 Tournament. After dropping their second game at the Big 12 Championships to Texas Tech (4-2), the Tigers defeated Oklahoma (5-4). Missouri turned double plays to end the eighth and ninth innings to hold on for the victory against the Sooners. Later that night, Texas A&M defeated Texas Tech to put MU in the championship game against Texas. An 11-run fourth inning for the Longhorns proved too much for Mizzou. After the fourth inning, the Tigers outscored UT 6-0 the remainder of the game, but was unable to make up the difference, falling 12-7.

Aaron Senne will conclude his career at Missouri as the school's all-time leader in career hits and doubles. He also ranks in the top five in home runs and RBI in the MU career record books. Senne became Mizzou's all-time hits leader on May 2 with two hits in the series finale at Texas Tech. That gave him 275 career hits and placed him ahead of the previous record holder, Jayce Tingler (274, 2000-2003). He enters the Big 12 Championship with 289 hits. 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 68 career doubles, putting him atop that list. Senne has 21 doubles on the year, which ranks second in the Big 12. His .410 average is also second best in the conference. He hit his team-leading 16th home run of the year last Sunday as part of a two-home run game for Senne. It was his second multi-home run game of the year. He has 42 home runs for his career, which puts him in a tie for third place on the career homers list with Ryan Fry (1995-98). Senne has 209 career RBI and ranks third in that category in the MU career record books. 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.

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 .410 batting average heading into the Big 12 Championship, while Nicholas' .365 mark is 10th best in the league. Senne is sixth in the Big 12 in hits (82), second in home runs (16) and second in doubles (21). Nicholas (62) and Senne (56) rank second and 11th 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 hit safely in 19-straight games from April 3-May 4.

Junior Brett Nicholas had a 19-game hitting streak from April 3-May 4, which was the longest at Missouri since Jayce Tingler had a 24-game streak in 2002. During his 19-game streak, Nicholas hit .418, with 10 doubles, four home runs and 22 RBI. He began the streak with six-straight two-hit games and had two hits in 13 of the 19 games. That streak followed 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 39 of the 51 games in which he's had an at-bat this year and he has 26 multi-hit games. On the year, Nicholas is hitting .365 with nine home runs and a team-leading 62 RBI. The 62 RBI are second most in the Big 12 Conference. 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).

Nick Tepesch recorded his first career shutout on May 14 against Nebraska. He struck out a season-high nine and gave up just five hits in the win. Tepesch retired the side in order in five of the nine innings and earned Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Week for the performance. Before that win, his last victory came in the opener of the doubleheader with Kansas State on April 25. Tepesch allowed just one run on seven hits and struck out five in 7.2 inning pitched against the Wildcats. 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 pitched at least seven innings in each of his first five starts in conference play before his outing against Texas Tech on May 1 in which he took the loss, allowing five runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings pitched. In MU's conference opener, Tepesch turned in 7.1 innings pitched against Texas A&M, striking out four. He 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.

Michael Liberto is one of just two seniors on the 2010 squad and has a .330 average. He missed the three games against Texas last weekend after suffering an injury in practice the week before. Liberto had a nine-game hitting streak from April 25-May 9, during which he had a .342 average, with nine RBI. He had two hits in four-straight games from April 30-May 4. The nine-game hitting streak matched his career long, which he set earlier this year, hitting safely in nine-straight games from March 14-23. During that streak, he hit .412 with a double, a triple and seven RBI. He has had at least one hit in all but 11 games in which he has had an at-bat this season and has had multiple hits in 20 games 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.

Eight members of the Mizzou baseball team were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team, as announced earlier this month. The Tigers tied for second in the league with the eighth honorees. Missouri had five first team selections, including senior Aaron Senne, who earned his third Academic All-Big 12 recognition. Joining Senne on the first tem was junior Phil McCormick, sophomores Ryan Ampleman and Russell LaFleur and redshirt freshman Andreas Plackis. It was the second Academic All-Conference honor for McCormick and Ampleman. Juniors Nick Tepesch and Andrew Thigpen and sophomore Ryan Clubb were named to the second team.

After missing the first 34 games of the season recovering from an offseason ankle injury, sophomore Ryan Gebhart had a hit in the first nine games he played in his return and has recorded a hit 11 of the 17 games in which he's played this season. In his first game back, he went 2-for-4 against Oklahoma State on April 18. He had multiple hits in three-straight games from May 1-4. He was 3-for-5 with two RBI in game two against Texas Tech, then had two hits and two RBI in the finale with TTU. On May 4, Gebhart was 2-for-4 against Missouri State. He is hitting .310, with three doubles, a triple and eight RBI since his return.

Head Coach Tim Jamieson has utilized 51 different lineups in the 52 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 and only repeated lineup of the season. Seven 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 42 times, Brett Nicholas 10 times) have been slotted. The seventh spot has seen the most changes, as 13 different Tigers have hit in the seven hole.



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