Big third inning leads to blowout win for Missouri

Underclassmen got experience in the game due to the uneven score.
Missouri freshman designated hitter Kale Gaden bumps helmets with junior catcher Ryan Ampleman after scoring his first career home run against North Dakota on Thursday at Taylor Stadium. During the game, Gaden also hit a double in the third inning to finish 2-for-4 for the night.

The Missouri baseball team combined for four home runs in an offensive explosion Thursday night to beat North Dakota 17-4 in the first game of a four-game series.

Missouri scored 11 runs in the bottom of the third inning, nearly batting around the order twice. Senior first baseman Aaron Senne got things started off with a double, which junior third baseman Brett Nicholas followed with a home run. Senior shortstop Michael Liberto delivered the next big blow with a three-run triple.

Nicholas hit a two-run double in his second at-bat of the inning and had four total RBIs that inning. Six hitters had two at-bats in the third inning, and five different hitters had RBI hits.

"It was one of those things where they say hitting is contagious and that inning definitely speaks to that," Nicholas said. "I don't think we missed barrel all inning, even the outs."

Junior right fielder Jonah Schmidt drove in the first run of the game with an RBI base hit in the first inning. Freshman designated hitter Kale Gaden drove in the second run of the game with a solo home run in the second inning. Gaden started in place of Dane Opel.

"(Kale) is a guy that can help us out this season," coach Tim Jamieson said. "We weren't surprised by what he was able to do."

Senne, the team leader in home runs this season, hit his fifth home run of the year with a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth inning to put the Tigers up 14-3.

"Our guys weren't chasing pitches," Senne said. "They were going up there looking for pitches to hit and being aggressive."

Up by 11, Jamieson began replacing all of the starters with players off the bench. Sophomore Connor Mach, who pinch-hit for freshman second baseman Eric Garcia, added the final run of the game with the fourth home run of the game for Missouri.

"Everybody that came in tonight will have a little bit more confidence tomorrow than they did before," Jamieson said. But Jamieson was not all pleased with his team's play against North Dakota.

"We made a lot of mistakes tonight," he said. "I told the guys we have to get better as we get ready for conference. We've beaten teams because we are better than them, not because we've gotten better."

Jamieson said the Tigers were chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone, and was also unhappy with the two errors they made.

Freshman Eric Anderson was the starting pitcher for Missouri and allowed three hits and three runs in four innings of work. Sophomore Ryan Clubb was the winning pitcher for the Tigers after pitching a perfect fifth inning.

The series with North Dakota continues on with a doubleheader today and the series finale on Saturday. The first game of the doubleheader starts at 4 p.m., and the second begins at 7 p.m. Saturday's game begins at 1 p.m.

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