Gaden and company go deep against North Dakota

The Tigers hit four home runs in a win Thursday night.
Missouri senior infielder Michael Liberto slides into third base Thursday at Taylor Stadium. The Tigers beat the Fighting Sioux, 17-5.

The Missouri baseball team handled North Dakota on Thursday night, taking the first game of the home series 17-5. The Tigers scored 11 runs in the third inning and coasted to the win.

Four Tigers hit home runs in the ballgame, starting with a solo shot by freshman designated hitter Kale Gaden in the second.

"Today was my first career home run so that was a big deal," Gaden said. "I got out there and got a solid pitch to hit."

Gaden smashed what looked like his second homer of the third inning with a double that went off the wall in center. Senior shortstop Michael Liberto was not surprised by his young teammate's performance after watching him in practice.

"In batting practice he can drop some barrel," Liberto said. "I know he can hit it hard and hit it far, so it really doesn't surprise me."

The second blast for the Tigers came during their 11-run third inning when junior third baseman Brett Nicholas bombed a two-run homer over the right field wall.

The duo in the heart of the order of Nicholas and senior first baseman Aaron Senne had another productive day at the plate. Senne roped a double before Nicholas hit them both in, and the two combined for three RBIs on the night.

The home run derby continued with solo knocks by Senne in the fourth and sophomore pinch hitter Conner Mach in the seventh. Four blasts in this one game is half the team's previous season total of eight.

Despite the slugfest, Senne said the team refrained from becoming "homer-happy" as the game went on.

"It's just taking some good swings," he said. "Obviously when you swing for home runs you don't ever hit them. Got off a lot of good swings and they carried out of the ballpark."

Coach Tim Jamieson said his Tigers haven't hit four homers in a single game since they scored more than 30 runs on Texas in 2008.

Jamieson said it was nice to see his bench players succeed. Among the home run hitters were alternates Mach and Gaden, who have started in just five and four games, respectively.

"I think they all did really well," Jamieson said of his bench players. "It's good for morale and for those guys who haven't played as much and also to create some depth here."

Missouri has now hit 12 long balls this season, with Senne leading all sluggers with five.

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