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April 5, 2009

Big inning lifts Tigers

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 a cold, rainy day at Taylor Stadium, the Tiger' bats finally found what they have been looking for. Hits and runs. Behind the solid pitching of Nick Tepesch, the Tigers put up five runs in the second and held on for a 5-4 victory.

"Their starter was a majority fastball guy, and we came out today ready," Conner Mach said. "We were hungry today after the first two games we lost, so we were ready to hit, you know hitting fastballs and hitting the ball well."

After Tepesch fired up the Tigers with two solid innings of pitching to start the game, which included three strikeouts and no hits, the Missouri bats finally awakened from their slumber. After a Conner Mach one-out hit that put runners on first and second, new lineup addition Rex Meyr delivered a hit up the middle to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

"That was big," coach Tim Jamieson said. "We have been looking for that for just about the entire year. We have been looking for it, so I think he has earned another start, another chance."

The Tigers (15-16, 5-7) were not done in the second. After Michael Liberto reached on an error, Ryan Lollis added a sacrifice fly to score Conner Mach. With two outs, right fielder Aaron Senne hit a lazy fly ball to center that the wind captured and placed in the middle of four Sooners. Two runners scored, and the Tigers would add one more on a Greg Folgia double to go up 5-0.

"Senne is coming around right now," Conner Mach said. "He is swinging the bat well. He is a tough out all the time."

The Sooners slowly chipped away at the Tigers lead throughout the game and had a pair of solo homers by Chris Ellison and Garrett Buechele. In a key moment in the seventh, Jamieson brought in Tyler Clark with two men on, and he was able to strikeout Oklahoma's best hitter Bryant Hernandez, which ignited the Tiger bench. Hernandez came into the game batting .454, but he was hitless on the day.

The Tigers squandered an opportunity to blow the game open in their half of the seventh. With runners on first and third, Trevor Coleman drew his third walk of the game when he was hit-by-the-pitch for the second time. Kyle Mach was unable to deliver, and he grounded into double play to end the inning.

The Tigers had to avoid one more scare in the ninth. With a runner on second and no outs, closer Brad Buehler was able to get out of the inning on a lineout to Conner Mach who proceeded to double off the runner. Buehler said he wants the ball when it matters in the late stages of the game.

"I always look forward to this type of pressure," Buehler said. "I love it when I am put in these situations. I went in against Texas, and I just couldn't get nothing. It didn't turn out my way, but I told (pitching) coach Vitello, 'I want to be in these situations.'"

Tepesch captured an elusive second victory on the year on Sunday. His last victory came almost a month ago on March 8th. He was able to strike out nine Sooners in six innings of work.

"I thought he was pretty much like he has been all year," Jamieson said. "His best outing was Texas. He got into the eighth, but that is pretty much who he has been all year right there. We have to figure out some way to keep his mistakes in the ballpark. I think he has given up nine or ten homeruns now. Outside of those mistakes, he has had a pretty solid year.

After being held to just eight hits in the first two games of the series, Missouri finally found its offensive and had nine hits on the day. They were also able to get timely hits that Jamieson has been talking about for so long. Three of the Tiger's runs in the second came with two outs.

"It's big because your looking at 4-and-9 versus 5-and-7 in the league, and 4-and-8 is a pretty big gap to catch up to .500. Five-and-7, if you have one good weekend, you might be above .500.

Missouri was 6-13 in day games coming into Sunday and needed the victory to avoid the sweep at home. The Tigers will shift their focus to a midweek series with the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Tuesday and Wednesday before they travel to Waco, Texas for a three-game set with the Baylor Bears.

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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