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April 9, 2009

Tigers look to keep bats hot against Baylor

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 Wednesday, the Missouri Tigers couldn't stop smiling. After suffering a 7-to-4 loss to Minnesota the previous night, Missouri took out all their anger in the form of 20 runs in the last of a two-game series. After the game, players were jumping on each other, cheering as the grounds crew reshaped the pitching mound, and Greg Folgia and Ryan Lollis even became reporters and asked Jamieson questions. The only question is will they be able to maintain this momentum against the Baylor Bears on Friday night.

"It feels great, especially with how things have been going all year, you know," Steve Gray said. "It's good to come out and get offensive production like that."

Missouri (16-17, 5-7) will continue their tough schedule when they face the No. 7 Bears. Baylor (21-8, 7-5) has hovered around the top ten for the entire season, and they have won their last three series in the Big 12 after losing the opener to Texas A&M. The Tigers have a good history against Baylor, and swept them last season while only giving up two runs in the process.

"I think it's a team we have always played well against, and it's a series that our guys will be excited about," coach Tim Jamieson said. We will play our best baseball and find out if we are as good as Baylor. It will be nice to get through this run of ranked teams and play some teams and come back down to earth a little bit."

Once again, Missouri will enter a series looking to prove that they can hit with the rest of the Big 12. Currently, they are batting .188 in the Big 12 with just two home runs, but they have shown signs of life as of late. Kyle Mach has become a double machine and senior Steve Gray had three hits against the Golden Gophers on Wednesday. Gray hit ten home runs for Missouri last season and has been hitting better since he has become a staple in the starting lineup. Jamieson also inserted Ryan Lollis in the leadoff hole which seems to have sparked the team.

"It's what we're supposed to do," Kyle Mach said. "We have a lot of experienced people that have been here for awhile seeing balls and know how to hit. It's what we're supposed to do right there."

Baylor comes into the series behind the bat of Shaver Hansen who is hitting .363 with 11 home runs and 30 R.B.I.'s. He is joined by Lucas Hileman and Logan Verrett. Each is batting over .450 in the Big 12.

Kendal Volz (2-2) will get the start on Friday and look to improve his 3.92 E.R.A. Volz was tabbed as a preseason All-America candidate, but he has struggled in Big 12 play where he is 1-2 with an E.R.A. of 5.55. The only other Big 12 player selected as a preseason All-America candidate will be Volz's opponent, Missouri ace Kyle Gibson. Gibson is 2-2 in the Big 12 with a 3.41 E.R.A and has three complete games in his four Big 12 starts. Jamieson will most likely use his Johnny Wholestaff approach on Saturday, which improved to 8-2 on the year after defeating Minnesota on Wednesday.

"They're going to throw Volz who has been throwing pretty well," Mach said. "They are going to be a good team, preseason ranked pretty high up there. We will see what we can do."

This weekend, Missouri has a chance of getting over .500 overall and in the Big 12 if they can repeat their performance last season and sweep the Bears.

"That would be huge if we could get up over .500," Gray said. "We were able to sweep them last year, and I think they have a pretty similar team that they had last year. If we can keep putting up runs like this, I think we have a good shot at taking the series down there."

Jamieson is hoping that Missouri's blowout victory on Wednesday will translate into more runs this weekend.

"We will find out on Friday," he said. "I don't read much into midweek good or bad. I have been seeing better swings and hopefully that is progressing towards the weekend. Hopefully, it can add a little bit of confidence and help us this 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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