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April 3, 2009

Tigers come up short

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After pummeling St. Louis University at Busch Stadium 19-6 on Wednesday, Missouri looked to take their offensive momentum into a series with the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners. The Tigers bats, however, were quieted by Sooner starter Andrew Doyle in route to a 2-1 loss.

"Gibson pitched his butt off, and they gave us a chance to win the game, and we make mistakes defensively," coach Tim Jamieson said. "We let a lot of balls by us, and we had a close game. That's the story of the game."

After a rough outing against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kyle Gibson was able to strike out 15 in nine innings of work. Both Doyle and Gibson started the game in impressive fashion for their respective teams. Each pitcher kept the opposing team hitless through four innings before the Sooners notched two runs in the fifth.

With one out, Oklahoma catcher J.T. Wise lined a double off the wall in left field. A base hit by Casey Johnson moved Wise over to third with one out. Gibson was able to trap Johnson in a rundown during the next at-bat, but Missouri came up empty handed when Wise broke for home and beat out the throw. The Tigers were not able to get either runner out in the process.

"At that point you take the out (at second base)," Jamieson said. "If that's the winning run late in the game, then that's the one you want to get. We misplayed it from the very get-go. Once you misplay it, you get the out at second base."

The Sooners added another run on another defensive mistake by the Tigers later that inning. Garrett Buechele hit a groundball that slipped under the glove of third baseman Kyle Mach who left his position too early according to Jamieson. The run was scored a hit but could have easily been an error. Oklahoma was up 2-0, and they never looked back.

Coming into the game, the Tigers were dead last in the Big 12 in batting average while the Sooners were at the top. Missouri continued their struggles at the plate and were only able to muster four hits and one run against Doyle. The Tigers scored on an R.B.I single by Ryan Lollis in the sixth, but they failed to produce any more damage with one out and a man on second.

"It's definitely frustrating, but it's baseball," Gibson said. "Your not going to win all the close games, and that's something were going to work on. The offense is going to be fine. Maybe they have not scored enough runs in some games, but I'm not going to blame anyone for that. They are out there battling and had some great at-bats tonight."

The Tigers continued to battle the Sooners into the late innings and were saved by Lollis in the eighth when he took away a homerun from first baseman Aaron Baker. With a 3-1 count, Baker smashed a ball to right center. Lollis was in hot pursuit and climb up and over the wall to make the catch. He then proceeded to double off the base runner.

"That's probably the best play I have ever had made behind me," Gibson said. "That was awesome."

"He hit the ball, and I didn't think it even had a chance to get out the park," Lollis said. "I thought it was a routine pop fly, and it just carried. There wasn't any talk between me and Senne. I just kind of jumped, and I didn't really know I caught it."

The Tigers will look to even up the series tomorrow at 2 P.M. Once again, they will focus on getting more hits and runs. According to Jamieson, the difference when it comes to hitting this season is Missouri's lack of confidence.

"We got off to a slow start, and we have not handled the bat very well, and we haven't handled failure very well, but it's confidence no question about it," he said.

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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