Tigers' Late Offensive Surge Buries Bears, 10-5
May 9, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. - After facing an early four-run deficit, Missouri scored 10 of the final 11 runs of the night to cruise to a 10-5 victory over the Missouri State Bears Wednesday evening at Simmons Field. The Tigers banged out seven doubles--a season high for a Missouri State opponent--and 14 hits overall against four MSU pitchers to sweep a two-game season series from the Bears for the first time since 2000.
Conner Mach and Dane Opel provided much of the offense for the Tigers, combining to go 7-for-8 with six runs scored and five runs batted-in. Opel kicked off MU's scoring onslaught with a two-run homer in the fourth, while Mach's second double of the game ignited a three-run seventh inning rally that snapped a 5-5 tie and propelled the home team to victory.
Missouri (26-22), which topped the Bears (34-15) in 11 innings in the two clubs' first meeting of the season on April 25, scored all three of its runs in the seventh with two men out to turn the tide for good. Scott Sommerfeld's two-run double to center was the key blow, and Eric Garcia plated the third tally with a base hit to right.
The Tigers would ice the game in the eighth, with Mach and Opel putting the finishing touches on the victory with a sacrifice fly and an RBI single, respectively, to help stop the Bears' four-game win streak.
One of five Missouri pitchers on the night, Ryan Yuengel (2-0) earned the win in relief after working two innings and allowing one run on one hit. The win was also made possible by the work of Jeff Emens, who held the MSU bats in check long enough for the Tigers to overcome the early deficit with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
The disappointing ending followed a strong start for Missouri State, which scored the first four runs of the game, thanks to an early surge led by Luke Voit and Spiker Helms. Voit sparked the Bears' offense in the early inning, belting his fifth home run of the season on Brett Graves's first pitch of the second inning to put MSU on top. The junior catcher came through again with one out in the third, lining a Blake Holovach pitch through the right side to chase home Kevin Medrano from third for a 2-0 Bears lead.
Given the early lead, Bears' starting pitcher Jake Powers kept the Tigers at bay by working out of jams in each of the first three innings. Missouri put a pair of runners on base in the first courtesy of a hit batsman and a two-out hit by Andreas Plackis, but Powers coaxed a grounder to third from Blake Brown to kill the threat. The sophomore righty got out of tight spots the next two frames as well, retiring Case Munson on a ground ball and striking out Sommerfeld to strand a runner another runner in scoring position in the second, then working around a lead-off single in the third with the help of a double-play ball off the bat of Dillon Everett.
The Bears used a two-out rally in the fourth to double their lead, as Dylan Becker dropped a bunt single down the third-base line, before Helms drove a 1-0 pitch from Holovach over the wall in right field to stake Powers to a four-run lead.
Powers would not be able to keep the Tigers off the board in the fourth when Mach singled with one out, and Opel delivered his 10th home run of the season to cut the Bears' lead in half. The Tigers came all the way back in the sixth after the Bears helped the MU cause with two errors, a pair of wild pitches and two more walks to hand the home team a 5-4 lead. Mach got the ball rolling with his third hit of the night, and Opel followed with a double down the right-field line to pull the Tigers to within 4-3.
Next, reliever Grant Gordon got Munson swinging for the first out, then issued a walk to Sommerfeld to put runners on the corners before a wild pitch allowed Opel to trot home with the equalizing run. A bouncer to second gave Gordon the second out of the inning, but another walk and another wild pitch kept the inning alive, and Eric Cheray couldn't corral a Ben Turner grounder to short that would have been the final out, but instead brought Garcia home with the go-ahead run.
Missouri State responded in kind in its half of the seventh, capitalizing on a lead-off walk to Helms, a wild pitch and a Brent Seifert base hit to put runners on the corners. Brock Chaffin's fielder's choice grounder to second nearly got the Tigers out of the jam with a double play, but the return throw to first was off the mark to allow Helms to score the tying run.
Missouri State was led by Voit's 2-for-4 night, while Seifert and Becker each added a pair of hits as well.
Zach Merciez (0-3) shouldered the loss for the Bears after allowing five runs on six hits over 1 2/3 innings.
The Bears return to Hammons Field to open their final home series of the season and a key three-game Missouri Valley Conference set with Evansville Friday at 6:30 p.m.