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May 18, 2012
LAWRENCE, KS--The Mizzou Tigers took on the Kansas Jayhawks Thursday night at Hoglund Ballpark in the last Big Twelve series ever for the Tigers. The series carries extra importance because it is the last scheduled match-up between the two rivals in any sport and the Tigers could eliminate the last place Jayhawks from the Big Twelve Tournament with a sweep. Only the top eight teams in the conference qualify.
"It's our last time to play [the Jayhawks]. We have a chance to get them out of the tournament," Dane Opel said.
The contest did not produce much hitting. Until the seventh inning, no runs were scored. Both pitchers were cruising, trading off scoreless innings.
"I always try to outdo [the opposing pitcher.] I love being on the road. Because whatever that guy does, I want to do better," Tiger starter Rob Zastryzny said. "I love pitcher's duels."
However, in the seventh, the Jayhawks finally broke the tie. Zac Elgie led off the inning with a single. Two batters and two outs later, he was driven home by a Michael Suiter double, making it 1-0 Jayhawks. The final out of the inning was a controversial one, as Brannon Champagne gunned out Suiter at a close play at home on a Ka-iana single.
"[I had] bad command on everything but a fastball. It's like [batting practice] up there. Eventually, they are going to score. That's on me to throw better pitches," Zastryzny said.
The Tigers looked poised to take the lead in the top of the ninth. With one out, Sal Belfonte on second and Conner Mach on first, Opel ripped a ball down the third base line for an apparent RBI hit. However, Jayhawk defensive substitution Jordan Dreiling made a diving snag, touched third to start the double play that ended the contest.
"I was just looking for a fastball, and he gave it to me on the outer half," Opel said. "It's a tough game sometimes. Sucks that it comes down to the last out like that."
"He hit the crap out of it. [Jordan Dreiling] made a great play. That's kind of the way the game goes," head coach Tim Jamieson said. "When you limit yourself to one or two opportunities to score runs, then, sometimes, that's what happens."
The Tigers lost by the final of 1-0.
The Jayhawks' Frank Duncan was particularly impressive, tossing nine scoreless innings with five strike-outs and only a single walk.
"[Duncan's] off-speed was working pretty well today. It really was. He did a good job mixing change-up, off-speed, fastball. He pitched well," Opel said.
"Guys didn't make the necessary adjustments," Jamieson said.
"That's baseball. It's frustrating sometimes," Opel said. "We just came up a little short."
Mizzou plays Kansas again Friday in game two of the series at 6 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence, Kan.
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