Missouri baseball takes 2 of 3 from Xavier

The Musketeers salvaged a Sunday game with a freshman pitcher.
Missouri senior shortstop Michael Liberto fails to tag out Xavier redshirt senior catcher Neil Lindgren upon stealing second base Sunday at Taylor Stadium. MU won the first two games against Xavier over the weekend but lost Sunday, 5-1.

The Missouri baseball team dropped the last game of a rainy three-game home series against Xavier, 5-1, on Sunday. The Tigers won the first two games of the series, and the loss is the Tigers' first at home this season.

The Tigers struggled against freshman pitcher Jon Richard, mustering one hit during the six innings he pitched. Junior third baseman Brett Nicholas had a base hit in the first inning, but the Tigers only hit until they managed two more in the ninth. Nicholas also walked twice. Sophomore left fielder Russell LaFleur gave the Tigers their only run of the game with an RBI single in the ninth.

"I think we took a lot of bad swings at a lot of bad pitches," coach Tim Jamieson said. "We chased a lot of balls out of the strike zone. We were very uncompetitive at the plate."

Missouri also struggled in the field, making four errors.

"We (have) a lot of good athletes out there, a lot of good players," said junior starting pitcher Aaron Blunt, who allowed two unearned runs. "Just give them another opportunity to make the play, and they'll do it."

The first two games of the series were a different story for Missouri. In the first game Friday, Missouri won 7-6 in 13 innings. The Tigers climbed out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning with the help of a two-run homer by junior designated hitter Jonah Schmidt.

Xavier struck back with a five-run third inning, and a 6-6 tie after the fifth inning lasted until the 13th. Redshirt freshman Andreas Plackis pinch-hit and drove in the winning run for the Tigers on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded. Junior Andrew Thigpen scored the winning run on a close play at home plate.

"I thought we played like a young team tonight," Jamieson said Friday.

Missouri and Xavier played another close game Saturday, when freshman right fielder Dane Opel broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run base hit in the bottom of the eighth inning. Junior pitcher Tyler Clark shut down the Musketeers in the ninth to give Missouri a 4-2 victory.

"It was a good thing to win the series," Nicholas said. "I think we could have played better all weekend. We found a way to win two games, which is always a positive, but you want to win that third. But overall, to get a series win at home for the first series is always a positive."

Nicholas led the team with five hits over the weekend. Senior first baseman Aaron Senne had four.

Missouri is now 7-6 on the season and 3-1 at home. The win Sunday was the second of the season for Xavier. The Tigers have the rest of the week to prepare for a four-game series with North Dakota that starts Thursday.

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