The Mizzou baseball team wrapped up a four-game series against Ball State with a close 7-6 victory on Sunday. The Tigers used a big 5th inning to upend the Cardinals and win the series, three games to one.
Sophomore Nick Tepesch picked up the victory for Mizzou, his first of the season. Tepesch threw 6 2/3 innings and gave up 5 runs on 8 hits, but he struck out a career high 12 batters.
Ball State got a pair 2-run home runs from pitcher Kolbrin Vitek and first baseman Ian Nielson in the 3rd and 4th innings. The strong gusts of wind (upwards of 30 MPH at gametime) aided Vitek's bomb, but Nielson's shot was a no-doubter. This put the Cardinals up 4-0 before the Tigers could register a hit.
"He made a couple of bad pitches, and today that is a difficult thing to overcome." Coach Jamieson said of Tepesch. "But I thought he did a great job after the 4 runs that they scored. We put some runs on the board and he was a different guy for the next two innings, and that's a real positive thing."
Those runs were put on the board in the bottom of the 5th, with a lot of help from the Mach brothers, Kyle and Conner. Kyle started the inning off with a single, and scored on an error by the first baseman. Later, Conner hit a three run shot clear over the center field wall to tie the game and knock out starter Kolbrin Vitek after 4+ innings.
"It was amazing. 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 said after the game.
Tom Mueller came in to replace Vitek, and proceeded to throw 8 balls in his first 9 pitches. Another error, this time by second baseman Nate Fields, and a bases loaded walk put the 5th and final run across the plate in the 5th inning.
The Tigers sent 11 men to the plate in the inning and only collected 3 hits, but were helped by 2 errors committed by the Cardinals. Ball State had 5 errors in Sunday's game.
Ryan Lollis scored on two Cardinal errors in the 6th after reaching on a single and stealing a base. This hit stretched the lead to 6-4 through six innings.
Tepesch was pulled out after giving up a solo homerun to catcher Zach Dygert in the 7th, but the Tigers responded in the bottom half of the inning, scoring when Mike Liberto, who Coach Jamieson dubbed the MVP of the weekend, knocked in catcher Trevor Coleman.
The Tigers received a scare in the 9th, when Kolbrin Vitek made good contact with a Scooter Hicks pitch. The ball carried all the way to the wall, but fell into Ryan Lollis' glove just short. The hit did score a runner from 3rd, but a grounder second baseman Andrew Thigpen ended the game, 7-6.
The Tigers finished the weekend at 3-1 against the Cardinals, who had surprisingly hot bats and certainly pushed the Tigers to play hard.
"[The team recognizes] 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," Jamieson told the media after the game.
Jamieson's squad has one more home game against Western Illinois on Tuesday before traveling to Austin to take on the powerhouse Texas Longhorns. The Western Illinois game is scheduled to start at 6:30 at Taylor Stadium.