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Mach brothers lead Tiger comeback

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Through four innings on a gusty Sunday afternoon, the Tigers looked sluggish. Starter Nick Tepesch had given up a pair of two-run homers, and the Tigers had no hits. Then, the Mach brothers took over.
Kyle Mach led off the inning with a single to center and scored when Ball State first baseman Ian Nielson made an error on a grounder hit by Greg Folgia. Later in the inning, freshman Conner Mach followed with his biggest hit as a Tiger, a homerun to left center that tied the score at four.
"It was amazing," Conner Mach said. "It was a big spot in the game, and it's the best feeling too, being a freshman and getting a big hit in a big spot. It was awesome."
Conner's big brother was excited about his brother's big hit.
"Once he hit it, I knew it was gone," Kyle Mach said. "He has pretty good pop in his bat for a freshman and with the wind howling about 20 to 30 M.P.H., you knew it was gone. It definitely was a good feeling and good momentum for the team to get back on top."
Missouri added another run when Kyle Mach drew a walk with the bases loaded. The Tigers only had three hits in the inning, but they were helped by two Cardinal errors. The Tigers had the momentum, and Tepesch struck out the side in the sixth. Tepesch finished the game with 12 strikeouts.
"I thought I threw really well just a couple of mistakes," Tepesch said. "Actually three mistakes I would say, and they were the homeruns. But other than that, I thought I pitched really well."
"He made a couple of bad pitches, and today that is a difficult thing to overcome," coach Tim Jamieson said. "But I thought he did a great job after the four runs that they scored. We put some runs up on the board, and he was a different guy for the next two innings, and that's a real positive thing. We had good relief pitching, and we pieced enough offense together to win the game."
Ryan Lollis scorched a double down the rightfield line in the Tigers' half of the sixth and eventually scored after a stolen base and another Cardinal error. The Cardinals added another run in the seventh when Tepesch gave up his third homerun to Zach Dygert.
In the seventh, shortstop Michael Liberto singled in Trevor Coleman for the eventual game-winning run. The Cardinals threatened late in ninth, hitting a ball out to the warning track that had the crowd holding their breath. Luckily for Tiger reliever Scooter Hicks and the rest of the team, the gusting wind had died down at the end of the game, and the ball stayed in the park.
Taking three-out-of-four games in this series was crucial for a Tiger team that is still fighting to get back to .500 for the year.
"It does a lot of things," Jamieson said. "First of all, more confidence for Nick Tepesch. Second, more confidence in our bullpen to know we can hold on to a small lead late in the game because we have not had that a lot. And then, I think just the overall team confidence. They recognize that were not playing our best baseball yet, but we're still able to win three-out-of-four, and that's a pretty good baseball team."
For the first time all year, Ball State lost a game where they outhit their opponent. The Cardinals had five errors in the game that ended up being the difference.
During the series, the Tigers' pitching improved with Gibson, Berger and Tepesch each notching a victory. After being blown out 14-5 in the first game of a double header on Saturday, Missouri was able to rebound and win the final two games of the series.
Two of the biggest contributors on offense for Missouri in this series were a pair of freshmen. Ryan Gebhart had a key hit in game one of the series, and Conner Mach had a big homerun to bail out a struggling Tiger offense on Sunday.
Jamieson has been inserting different players into the DH role throughout the weekend and said Mach has the starting job at this point, but he has been happy with his both freshmen's production.
"Those are the two guys if you look at our freshman class, and you look at Ben Turner who had some big hits in Arizona, but those are the guys that we thought could help us right away," the coach said. "You give the opportunity to some of the older guys first, and they struggled a little bit, and then the younger guys take advantage of the opportunities. I think it's a good sign for the future for those guys and for us."
The Tigers have one game left against Western Illinois before beginning conference play next Friday in Austin, TX. Missouri defeated Western Illinois 8-0 this past 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.