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May 9, 2009

Home runs bury Tigers

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On Saturday, Missouri (29-23, 15-11) looked to clinch the series with the Kansas Jayhawks (35-17, 13-10) and capture the Border Showdown series title. The Tigers did not have the hitting to keep up with Kansas and dropped the second game of the series 7-4.

"Too many mistakes," coach Tim Jamieson said about his pitching staff. "That's the thing we have to try and eliminate is the mistakes."

Kansas struck first and would continue to add a steady stream of runs throughout the game. In the first, the Jayhawks scored on a fielder's choice which was set up by a lead-off double from David Narodowski. Narodowski was a pest for the Tiger's pitching staff all game and finished with a single, two doubles and a home run in the victory.

Missouri would not go down without a fight and in what has been characteristic of the team in their late-season push, the Tigers responded and took the lead in the bottom of the first when Aaron Senne hit a mammoth shot to right field after a Greg Folgia single.

In what seemed to be shaping up as a back-and-forth game between two bitter rivals, the Jayhawks responded with a home run of their own by Casey Lytle in the second. They Jayhawks would finish with three home runs on the day. Folgia would give Missouri the lead back with a sacrifice fly in the third, but it would be Missouri's last lead of the game.

"Our intensity was up the whole game," Missouri starter Scooter Hicks said. The energy obviously because it was KU. It's just one of those (things), it's just baseball really. We came out to play today, and there is no denying that. Everyone gave it their best effort and sometimes the chips just don't fall your way always."

After looking strong for the first four innings, which included two strikeouts to end a threat in the fourth, Hicks could no longer control the Jayhawk bats. Hardowski would lead off the inning with a homer and Buck Afenir would add a single to end Hicks day. Tyler Clark came in and surrendered a two-run single to Preston Land with two outs to put his team up 5-3.

"It takes the wind out of your sails a little bit, but those were preventable is the issue," Hicks said. "We had two walks in that fifth inning, and one of those came around and scored. I think a lot of the damage came when we were behind in the count as a pitching staff."

After Folgia stretched out for a diving catch to end the top of the fifth, he led off with a solo home run in the Tigers' half to pull Missouri within one. Missouri, however, would not be able to catch Kansas. Folgia would finish the game with two R.B.I. and continues to be the big bat in the lineup for his team. The Jayhawks would put the finishing touches on Missouri with a two-run homer by Brian Heere in the eighth to give them the 7-4 victory.

The difference in the game came down to hits in the clutch. Four of the Jayhawk's runs came with two outs, and Missouri was unable to capitalize with the bases loaded in the eighth. Down by only one after the fifth, Missori had just one hit in the final four innings.

"We had our chances today," Kyle Mach said. "No one really got the hits when we needed to. Senne had a nice big home run, which gave us the momentum early in the game. Bunch of zeros out there after the fifth. We had our chances. We just couldn't get the hits."

Missouri, who currently sits in fourth in the Big 12, will look to win the series on Sunday against the Jayhawks when they send Nick Tepesch to the mound

"It's the biggest game of the year for a lot of reasons," Jamieson said. "It's easy to say that because it's our last conference game, but if we win tomorrow they can't catch us. If we win tomorrow, it just about locks down a NCAA Tournament bid if we haven't gotten it already. We win tomorrow and we probably are going to finish in the top three (in the Big 12.)"

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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