The Missouri baseball team closed out a three-game series against the Ball State Cardinals with a commanding 9-2 victory Sunday at Taylor Stadium. After dropping their home opener, the Tigers (4-5) responded in impressive fashion, scoring a total of 24 runs over the final two games of the series.
The Tigers started with an unusual face on the pitcher’s mound. Junior pitcher Blake Holovach recorded his first start for the Tigers, striking out a career-high eight Cardinal batters through five straight innings.
Holovach had been contributing from the pen for the Tigers much of the season, and coach Tim Jamieson toyed with the idea of starting him. Jamieson finally gave him the starting nod this Sunday.
“We thought we could really make our bullpen strong with Holovach in there and he just pitched differently,” Jamieson said. “As a starter he’s pitched much, much better than he has out of the bullpen. We’re glad he had a great day because now he’s more confident. I feel real good about our starting rotation right now.”
Holovach’s pitching was the story in the first few innings of the game, as he prevented the Cardinals bats from finding their groove. With his first start under his belt, Holovach said starting brings a different mindset to the table.
“You know, you don’t have much time to warm up, and you’ve got to worry about runners,” Holovach said. “I got the start today and the outcome was a lot better.”
With Holovach keeping the Cardinals in check with his pitching, the Tiger bats jumped all over Ball State pitcher T.J. Weir early. Jumping out to 5-0 lead through four innings, the Tigers would end up with a total of 13 hits on the day.
Sophomore second baseman Dillon Everett had a breakout game at the plate. Everett hit three line drives past the infield, drawing in two RBIs in the process. The performance came as a relief to Everett, who had been struggling on the stat sheet for the past couple of games.
“Obviously, I haven’t been putting the stats on the paper like I’ve wanted to,” Everett said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well, and today they found holes so it was a good feeling to get that off my back.”
The Cardinals were beginning to claw their way back after falling behind 5-0 early. They drew blood in the eighth, cutting the Missouri lead to 5-2. The Tigers responded immediately tallying four more runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks in large part to a well-placed single by senior third baseman Conner Mach that drove home two.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Jake Walsh would close the game for the Tigers, striking out two of the four batters he faced at the top of the ninth. The Tigers held onto their 9-2 lead, keeping the Cardinals away from the bases and earning the victory.
The Tigers will face off against Nebraska-Omaha next at 6 p.m. Tuesday.