Schmidt comes through in clutch for Missouri baseball

The senior leads the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs this season.

Senior Jonah Schmidt leads the Tigers in batting average, home runs and RBIs in the 2011 regular season. During the Tigers' nine-game losing streak, Schmidt batted .333.

For a two-week span covering nine consecutive losses, the Missouri baseball team searched for its man, the man that would step up to the plate with runners and scoring position and deliver with the game on the line.

In the fifth inning of Saturday's game against Kansas, Missouri discovered that man to be a familiar face.

With a runner aboard and two outs on the losing side of a 2-1 game, senior designated hitter Jonah Schmidt laced a 3-2 pitch up the middle for an RBI. The long-awaited clutch hit not only tied the game but set the stage for sophomore outfielder Blake Brown's ninth inning walk-off to put the losing streak to a halt.

Leading by example, after all, is what Schmidt is all about.

One of just three seniors in the Missouri lineup, Schmidt has taken it upon himself this season to lead a young and rebuilding Tigers squad. And through 36 games, the St. Louis native has done so by both word and play.

"It's definitely a process, getting the younger guys up to speed," Schmidt said. "You just have to coach the kids and let them know what they need to do."

In a season of struggles for the entire team, Schmidt has been the anomaly. As Missouri's leader in batting average (.303), extra-base hits (13), home runs (4) and RBIs (20), Schmidt has provided the steady bat the Tigers have grown to expect out of their senior designated hitter.

While Missouri hasn't scored more than five runs in a game in over a month, Schmidt has appeared to be the lone Tiger not affected by the offensive drought. Schmidt batted at a .333 clip during the nine-game skid.

"I've just been seeing the ball real well as of late," Schmidt said. "I've been trying to do as much as I can to get the ball in the right direction."

What Schmidt expressed most during the skid was a desire to produce team results over individual statistics.

"I especially don't like to lose," Schmidt said after the final game of the losing streak, an 8-3 defeat to the Jayhawks on Friday night. "(But) that's the great thing about baseball — there's always tomorrow. You have to tell yourself, 'Tomorrow is going to be the day.'"

Prophetically, tomorrow was the day for Schmidt and the Tigers. Schmidt's snap of the RISP drought in Saturday's win and the spill-over effect it had on his teammates was evident among the Missouri coaches.

"Whenever you have someone in the lineup get something done, it helps everybody," Coach Tim Jamieson said of the hit. "I think there's no question, what Jonah did helped Blake (Brown) in the ninth."

With one "tomorrow" in the bag, Schmidt isn't done digging for late-season success. Although this season has been everything but the senior season he dreamed of, Schmidt maintains the forward-looking swagger that has established him as the team's cause to believe in.

"We've been so close," Schmidt said of the losses. "I really think we're going to get it clicking and get the ball rolling in the right direction."

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