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April 14, 2009

Tigers take aggression out on Indiana State

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After losing the weekend series to Baylor, the Missouri Tigers (18-19) took the field Tuesday night in the first of a two-game set with the Indiana State Sycamores (20-12). Coach Tim Jamieson handed the ball over to freshmen Ryan Clubb and Scooter Hicks in route to an 8-1 victory.

It was the first start of his career for Clubb who was able to hold the Sycamores scoreless in 4.2 innings of work while only surrendering one hit. It was the opportunity he has been dreaming of since he began college.

"I love going one inning and coming out of the bullpen, but I started ever since I was a kid, so I definitely looked forward to this," Clubb said. "I was told yesterday, and I just did all the things I could to prepare. I went to sleep early, and I was just ready for it."

"How about that," catcher Trevor Coleman said. "A freshman steps up for us, and that's huge. He came out and had good stuff tonight and located it well and got ahead of hitters. Those are a few keys that you have to have in order to be successful."

Hicks, Missouri's normal closer, picked up the victory when he came in for Clubb in the fifth inning. Jamieson trusted Hicks and left him in for the rest of the game. The only run the two pitchers surrendered came in the 9th inning. After loading the bases for some late-inning drama, Hicks induced a flyout to end the game.

"They pitched great and really didn't get too many good swings from Indiana State off those guys," coach Tim Jamieson said. "I thought both guys did a good job of competing and doing what they had to do because the game was in the balance until about the sixth or the seventh inning."

After being routed 19-0 in the final game of their series with Baylor, the Tiger' bats found new life and struck first against the Sycamores. With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, Michael Liberto knocked a runner in when the shortstop could not get the ball out of his glove while trying to turn a double play. Coleman added another run in the fifth when he hit a solo home run that barely made it into Missouri's bullpen in leftfield. Even the catcher wasn't sure if the ball would leave the park.

"Not necessarily. No I didn't," Coleman said. "I knew I was going to have to run a little bit and with the way the season is going, I feel like every time I hit the ball hard or soft it's going to be caught, or the guy is going to dive and it's going to hit off his foot and something weird is going to happen. Fortunately, tonight I got just enough on it."

Besides the homerun, Coleman was also able to draw three walks and has been hitting better since he changed his approach at the plate. His new approach includes going to the plate and always looking for a battle. The Tigers blew the game open in the sixth and seventh by scoring three runs in each inning and had a combined five doubles. Greg Folgia had a key two-out double that plated two and put Missouri up 4-0. They never looked back.

"It was real good," Jamieson said. "Some of our outs were productive or hit hard. I thought throughout the game, up and down the lineup, we had some quality at-bats."

Normally, Jamieson uses his Johnny Wholestaff approach in the midweek games, but he used just two pitchers on Tuesday. Both Clubb and Hicks agreed that the Wholestaff approach is like an audition, and they are receiving more playing time because of it.

"That's kind of basically all it is," Hicks said. "You get to go out and throw nine different guys. You have to pick the click. With nine different dudes, you get to see who's got what and kind of mix and match the right combination come Saturday."

Missouri will look to claw their way back to .500 again when they finish their series with Indiana State at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

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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