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March 11, 2011

Missouri's rally falls short in ninth

Missouri came up just short.

Trailing Le Moyne 6-3 going into the bottom of the ninth Friday, the Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out but couldn't get the tying run across the plate before losing 6-5.

Missouri's best chance to tie it came when Ben Turner singled and drove in Jesse Santo, but Sal Belfonte was cut down at the plate by a strong throw from center fielder Brett Botsford. Belfonte would have been the tying run.

After a fly out from Jonah Schmidt, Missouri again was on the precipice of tying it. Eric Garcia singled to left field, but a hard-charging Brannon Champagne was held up at third.

With the bases loaded, Scott Sommerfeld then struck out swinging to end the rally, and the game.

"It really wasn't too bad of a game, but we've got to have that extra little fight to come out with a W," Champagne said.

The ninth inning featured the best showing for the Missouri offense all night. The Tigers worked counts and made solid contact on multiple hits. But it just wasn't enough.
Regardless, coach Tim Jamieson was proud of the way his team battled back.

"You're 4-8, we're struggling and you're finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win," Jamieson said. "It would have been real easy to stop playing in the ninth inning, and they didn't. They believed that we were going to win the game."

Missouri was trying to climb out of a hole it created in the top of the eighth inning. With the score tied at three, Dolphins third baseman Ryan Mahoney came up with two runners on and two outs.

Mahoney lined a base hit to right field, where it bounced under the glove of a charging Blake Brown. When Brown stopped to run after the ball, he felt a pull in his left knee, and couldn't move.

By the time center fielder Champagne got the ball to the cutoff man Garcia, Mahoney was going for third. Garcia's throw to third sailed out of play, scoring Mahoney.

After a hit and two errors, the Tigers were trailing by three.

Brown took the loss especially hard after the game.

"This one definitely hurts a lot more because it's my fault," said Brown, who stayed in the game and had his knee iced up afterward. "I missed that ball. This one hurts a lot more, personally."

Missouri got another strong start from Rob Zastryzny, who went 7 1/3 innings giving up six hits, three runs and striking out eight.

The Tigers struck first with a run in the first inning off a fielder's choice. The Dolphins answered with runs in the third and fourth innings to take a 2-1 lead.

Brown's sac fly in the fifth tied it again before a home run by Brian Stinson gave Le Moyne another lead an inning later. Schmidt tied things up at three with a towering home run to left in the bottom of the sixth.

If the loss wasn't painful for Champagne, it may have been his bizarre night at the plate. The sophomore center fielder was hit by a pitch four times in his five at-bats.

"I was just trying to get on the plate and battle each pitch," Champagne said. "I'm not afraid to take a free base."

Missouri (4-9) hosts the Dolphins for a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m., before wrapping up the series 1 p.m. Sunday.

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