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May 8, 2009

Mizzou takes game one

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.

Just call him Superman. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and runners on second and third, a crowd of 1,774 at Taylor Stadium watched a ball smash off the centerfield wall. As the runner neared third, he received the signal to try and complete the inside-the-park home run. With just a few steps to go before reaching home, the exhausted runner sailed through the air with arms spread like Superman. Only this Superman wasn't wearing Jayhawk red and blue. No, this Superman was wearing black and gold and goes by the name of Greg Folgia.

"I actually was just hoping it would get over the center-fielder's head, and once it did I saw him on the ground, and I just started running a little faster," Folgia said.

And what about that slide?

"It was awesome," he continued. "That was the only energy I had left, and I just wanted to jump into a pool."

"He is the worst all time," coach Tim Jamieson said while laughing. "You watch him go back to first base on a pick-off attempt. He goes up before he goes out. He is the worst. The absolute worst, in particular when he goes head first."

The fans in attendance were all a witness to the first official inside-the-park home run at Taylor Stadium. The three-run homer put Missouri (29-22, 15-10) up by four, and they would go on to beat No. 23 Kansas (34-17, 12-10) by a score of 8-5.

Folgia has been Missouri's Superman in so many ways this season. He leads the team in homers, runs scored, R.B.I. and average. On Friday, he added two more home runs to his total. After Tiger starter Kyle Gibson struggled through the first inning where he was helped by excellent defense plays from Ryan Lollis and Kyle Mach, Folgia sent a line drive over the center-field wall in the bottom of the first to put the Tigers up 1-0.

After Mach extended his hitting streak to ten games, Missouri would add another run in the second when Ryan Ampleman singled to left field. Gibson would continue to struggle on the mound, however, and surrendered a three-run homer to center at the hands of Buck Afenir in the third.

Missouri continued to fight at the plate against Kansas starter Shaeffer Hall and broke through again in the fourth. After base hits by Steve Gray and new lineup addition Garrison McLagan, Michael Liberto delivered an opposite field single to tie the game. Liberto would finish the day with three hits and utilized all parts of the field.

For McLagan, it was his first game as a Tiger. The freshman from Christian Fellowship School in Columbia, Mo., was told before the game that if he was ready he could play in the game. McLagan showed poise at the plate and had his first college single against the rival Jayhawks in arguably the biggest game of the year thus far.

"It felt really good to me," McLagan said. "It made me feel like they really knew I was ready to do it because it's huge game for us this weekend."

Aaron Senne hit a moon-shot that barely cleared the wall in right in the fifth, and then Folgia would add his second home run of the game in the sixth. Folgia's homer turned the momentum in the game and could possibly be the play of the year according to Jamieson.

"He had a great at-bat with two strikes and two guys on in a point in the game where it might have been the biggest at-bat of the game," Jamieson said. "It might have been the biggest at-bat of the season depending on what happens in the next couple of days."

While the Tigers were putting up runs, Gibson calmed down and regained his normal form. After giving up a double in the third, Missouri's ace would retire 14 Jayhawks in a row before giving up a solo home run to Robby Price in the eighth. Brad Buehler would close out the game after giving up a lead off homer to Tony Thompson.

"It feels great," Gibson said. "My freshman year they kind of had my number and then last year I threw pretty well against them, and then this year I was able to come out and battle and get the breaks I needed to. But it always feels great coming out and throwing good against Kansas and beating them."

The Tigers will send Johnny Wholestaff to the mound tomorrow to take on Kansas pitcher T.J. Walz. If Missouri wins tomorrow, they will clinch the Border Showdown.

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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