Nicholas carries baseball to series win over Xavier

The junior continued his hot streak as Missouri dropped game three.
Missouri senior third baseman Brett Nicholas leaps for a ground ball in the first inning Sunday against Xavier at Taylor Stadium. Missouri lost to the Musketeers, 5-1.

In a weekend of struggling offense, junior infielder Brett Nicholas carried the Tigers at the plate against Xavier.

Nicholas was the lone bright spot for Missouri in Sunday's loss, owning the team's one hit through the first eight innings on a single in the first. He also drew two walks on the day, capping off a stellar weekend in the batter's box.

Nicholas got on base eight times in 12 plate appearances, posting four singles, one double and three walks in the series. Amid mediocre showings from his teammates, Nicholas noted what he did differently in his at-bats.

"I was a little bit more patient," Nicholas said. "They were chasing things a little bit. We just need to be more patient up there."

Nicholas also took a lead role in the first two games of the series, with his two RBIs tying the game at two and putting the Tigers in position to win Saturday. He lit up the scorecard in Friday's contest as well, going 3-for-4 in the series opener.

"He swung it good and swung at pitches he could hit," coach Tim Jamieson said. "He had a great weekend offensively."

After starting the season as an RBI-leader, the lefty batter (who throws righty) kicked it into a higher gear for the Xavier series. Nicholas batted in three of the Tigers' 12 runs on the weekend.

He credited his success to a newfound mindset of simplicity at the plate.

"It's not trying to do too much at the plate, which I was kind of doing the first couple weeks," Nicholas said. "With not trying to do too much and simplifying everything up there, it was a successful weekend."

As for his defense, Nicholas was employed at both positions on his resume this weekend. He played third base for Friday and Sunday and caught Saturday.

Nicholas also moved around in the batting order, hitting at the four spot Friday and Sunday and the five spot Saturday. Jamieson said he likes the duo of Nicholas and senior first baseman Aaron Senne in the heart of the order but was disappointed in the rest of the lineup after Sunday's 5-1 loss.

"We have two guys in the middle of the lineup with Nicholas and Senne that can get it done, but we have to have the pieces around them," Jamieson said. "They can't drive in people if there's nobody on bases."

Nicholas raised his batting average to .372 on the season and leads the team in RBIs with 14. The junior is also tied for first with four doubles and is second in walks.

Despite his junior standing, Nicholas is in his first season at Missouri after playing for two years at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Ariz. The slugger caught the eyes of Tiger scouts last season with a .379 batting average and a .483 on-base percentage. Nicholas helped take the Fighting Artichokes to their highest postseason finish in school history.

Nicholas is one of two community college transfer students on the team this season, joined by junior infielder Jesse Santo out of Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton, Okla.

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