By Gary Cotton
Blake Brown heads to third base on his way to score Missouri's first run Saturday, March 3, 2012, at Taylor Stadium in Columbia. Brown later hit a home run, leading all scorers in the 15-5 win over Ball State. Photos by Gary Cotton.
Rob Zastryny pitched five scoreless innings against Ball State on Saturday, March 3, 2012. Missouri won 15-5.
Baseball fans at Taylor Stadium were a little less cold today Saturday — probably because they were too busy cheering. Nothing warmed them up more than when the Tigers launched a long five-run inning with a home run by junior outfielder Blake Brown.
Brown said that passing the team’s Friday night run total with one hit took a lot of pressure off the hitters. “It felt great to just get out there and hit like we know we can.”
Missouri’s (3-5) performance was more of what coach Tim Jamieson had in mind when he described his team as “out-pitched, out-defended, out-hustled, and out-hit” after losing to Ball State Friday night. He said hitters were too eager at the plate, but he liked their demeanor Saturday.
“Last night, we swung at pitches we shouldn’t have swung at,” Jamieson said.
He added that things looked promising at both the beginning and the end of the game. “I thought they were relaxed a little bit more today and had a better approach. You need Rob (Zastrynzy) to pitch like he pitched, and then we need more confidence at the plate.”
Confidence has been the story for Missouri in shaking off their four-game losing streak. Dropping the home opener might have worn on some players’ minds, but sophomore pitcher Rob Zastryny said he didn’t give it much thought as he started for the Tigers.
“The Friday night game is out of my hand. I don’t really think about that much,” Zastryzny said. “I know the guys believe in me and I believe in myself.”
Zastryzny carried a no-hitter through the first five innings before allowing three runs in the sixth. The lefty said it all came down to being comfortable on his home field.
“I’m used to that mat; I’ve thrown probably 100 innings off of it in my career,” Zastrynzy said.
The home crowd might have provided a boost, but like most coaches, Jamieson said he wasn’t totally satisfied with the win. He said he isn’t completely sure which team was most responsible for the Tiger’s breakout offense.
“We haven’t been walked, and people haven’t made errors against us. We haven’t had anything created for us, and that’s sometimes what has to happen,” Jamieson said. “I’m glad it happened though. I hope it happens tomorrow.”
The two teams square off in the rubber match Sunday at 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.