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March 22, 2009

Tigers suffer tough loss

No one covers Tiger athletics like PowerMizzou.com. This year, we've added baseball coverage to our top-notch football and basketball beats. To follow the Tigers year-round, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.

On Sunday, Missouri continued their recent trend of jumping out early on their opponents. The Aggies, however, used a pair of homeruns and a lucky bounce to avoid the sweep and beat the Tigers 6-5 in a game that involved some late inning drama.

After the loss, Greg Folgia sat in the dugout and just stared blankly at the empty field.

"Oh my gosh," Folgia said. "How does that happen. Ah. How does anything like that happen?"

The moment Folgia is referring to occurred in the top of the ninth inning. After the Tigers had rallied from a 5-3 defecit, the Aggies struck on a costly error. Catcher Trevor Coleman tried to throw out Aggie Brooks Raley at second, but the throw ricocheted off Raley's leg and into left field. Raley would beat out a throw from Rex Meyr and score the game-winning run for the Aggies. Even with the loss, coach Tim Jamieson was happy with his team's attitude.

"The thing that I was looking for today was how we came out with pre-game, and the intensity if it was the same or even better then it was on Friday and Saturday, and it was," he said. "I am real pleased with the effort."

Nick Tepesch took the mound for the Tigers (11-11, 3-2 Big 12) and looked to continue Missouri's dominant starting pitching. Everything was sailing along smoothly until Aggie freshman Randall Thorpe hit a three-run bomb to left field in the fifth inning. Thorpe stood just a few feet from home and watched the ball sail into the Tigers bullpen. And why not? It was his first ever college hit. It doesn't matter that he struck out in his other four at-bats.

"It was an inside fastball," Coleman said. "Thorpe has quick hands, and he got inside that ball, and it got out of here. The wind helped it a little bit, but it was well struck and a good hit. We got him out on breaking pitches earlier in the game, and we were setting him up to go back to that breaking pitch. Unfortunately he got to us before we could do it."

For the third straight game, the Tigers scored in their half of the first inning. With two outs, Coleman plugged the gap in left for a double. After a walk by Aaron Senne, Folgia stepped to the plate and laced a double over a back-tracking centerfielder to put the Tigers up 2 to 0.

The Tigers would add another in the third. After a leadoff triple by Ryan Lollis, Folgia hit a weak grounder to third that was bobbled and allowed Lollis to score. It was only the third hit in Big 12 play for Lollis who would later single in the fourth.

After Thorpe tied the game in the fifth, Texas A&M added another run in the sixth when catcher Kevin Gonzalez hit a solo homerun of his own. Tepesch (1-1) would be pulled from the game after hitting the next batter and giving up another base hit. He finished with nine strikeouts but gave up four earned runs.

"I felt pretty comfortable today," Tepesch said. "Everything felt pretty good. I just tried to go after hitters. There for a while, I just kind of got behind on a lot of hitters today but other than that, I think I did alright."

The Aggies struck again in the seventh against Tiger pitcher Tyler Clark. Dylan Petrich roped a single over a leaping Michael Liberto to score Kyle Colligan who had been hit by a pitch earlier.

The Tigers were not going to give up that easy. In the eighth, after a base hit by Conner Mach and a walk by pinch-hitter Jonah Schmidt, Kyle Mach drove in his brother and pulled the Tigers within one. An error by Aggie shortstop Adam Smith on a Liberto ground ball tied the game at five. Lollis stepped up to the plate and belted a ball that looked to be leaving the park before right fielder Randall Thorpe made a catch on the warning track as he was falling down.

"I hit it pretty good, but that damn wind stopped it," Lollis said. "I can't say anything else man. That's what happened I feel like."

The Aggies were able to bounce back in the ninth when Raley scored and avoided their sixth-straight loss.

Even though the Tigers lost, the players and their coach were happy with the way they battled the No. 3 team in the country on Sunday. Throughout the series, their bats started to heat up with Folgia and Lollis hitting line drive after line drive on Sunday.

"We're hitting the ball good," Lollis said. "It looks like everyone is starting to do it together. Once we do it together, I don't think people are going to be able to beat us because we have the pitching, so it's looking better. It's a good thing to look forward to."

The Tigers will shift their focus to a two-game set this week with the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. The Flames enter the series with a 6-12 record, but they have won their last three games in a row. The Tigers will look to take two before heading to Stillwater, Okla. to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

"I just hope the rain stays away," Jamieson said. "I think all games that we can play right now are important for us. You want to win them obviously, and it helps prepare you for the upcoming weekend."

No one covers Tiger athletics like PowerMizzou.com. This year, we've added baseball coverage to our top-notch football and basketball beats. To follow the Tigers year-round, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.



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