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April 4, 2009

Tigers continue to struggle at the plate

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Facing heavy winds blowing out to left field, the Tiger' bats struggled again on Saturday. Unfortunately, the pitching staff took the day off too, and Missouri dropped the second game of the series to the Sooners by a score of 7-4.

"It's frustrating," Trevor Coleman said. "That's one word that definitely sums it up right now, but we are going to come out tomorrow and fight and get guys on base."

Both Kyle Mach and Greg Folgia used the gusting wind to their advantage and deposited balls over the left-field fence. Each, however, was a solo homerun, and the Tigers could not claw their way to a victory.

The Sooners struck first as Missouri went with the pitching-by-committee strategy for the ninth time this year. With Tyler Clark on the mound in the second inning, Oklahoma right fielder Kaleb Herren delivered a two-out base hit that plated two Sooners and gave them a 2-0 lead through two innings.

Missouri (14-16, 4-7 in Big 12) struck back in the third and took a 3-2 lead. After a leadoff homer by Mach, catcher Trevor Coleman drove in Michael Liberto with a base hit to left, and Folgia followed with a sacrifice fly to center. With one out and Coleman on third, the Tigers were unable to do any more damage.

"You know I was just looking for a good pitch at the right time," Mach said. "He had a no-hitter going, and I was looking for a good pitch to hit, and I got a fast one down the middle. I knew he did not want to walk me 3-2, so I put a good swing on a good pitch."

According to head coach Tim Jamieson, Oklahoma did a good job of switching pitchers to kill the Tigers' momentum.

"I think they did a good job of changing pitchers at that time," he said. "We did not have the same swings against the two or three right-handers that came in. The lineup set up pretty good for the left-hander, and I thought we were starting to swing it good. They did a good job by getting him out of there."

The Sooners regained the lead in the fifth and never looked back. Oklahoma tied the game with a weak grounder back to the pitcher and with one out and the bases loaded, Casey Johnson delivered a base hit to center that scored two. An errant throw by Ryan Lollis allowed the other runner on base to score, and the Sooners took a commanding 6-3 lead.

"We didn't play very well," Jamieson said. "We didn't pitch very well. We didn't get the key hitting. We made some stupid plays defensively. If you do that against a good team, your not going to win."

The Tigers would add one more run in the sixth when Folgia went deep for the fourth time this year. Missouri threatened again in the sixth after consecutive walks by Jonah Schmidt and Mach, but were unable to score after a Liberto strikeout and a base-running mistake by Schmidt. The Sooners finished their scoring when Aaron Baker hit a solo homerun down the left-field line that barely stayed fair.

In what is becoming a broken record, the Tigers continued their struggles at the plate. They had five strikeouts looking and for the second-straight game, they had just four hits. When they did have runners in scoring position, Missouri was a measly 1-for-11.

"Were searching for answers. That's for sure," Coleman said. "All we can do is keep our heads up and come out tomorrow. We got to control what we can control, and that's our attitude, our preparation and our effort."

For just the second time this season, Missouri's strategy of using a new pitcher each inning backfired. The Sooners forced Missouri to use ten pitchers after facing Gibson for the entirety of Friday night's game. According to Jamieson, this will not deter the coaching staff from using this strategy in the future.

The gusting winds at Taylor Stadium presented problems for both teams. Each team had three errors including a drop by left fielder Folgia in the first inning. Both Lollis and Aaron Senne were forced to make diving catches during the game because of the problematic wind. Missouri also threw away a few balls from the outfield that allowed the Sooners to score.

After taking two-out-of-three games in Oklahoma last year, the Tigers will look to capture just one victory on Sunday. They will turn to Nick Tepesch as he continues to search for his second victory on the season.

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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