Story by Gary Cotton
Photos by Karen Mitchell
Blake Holovach pitched five innings, recording eight strikeouts and allowing three hits and one walk.
Missouri junior Blake Holovach started Sunday’s game by fanning Ball State’s first three batters. He struck out two more in the third inning.
But after whipping a fastball past Cody Campbell for his sixth strike, Holovach’s hot streak started to die down. He walked Brandon Estep then hit Sean Godfrey to load the bases. But Holovach fought back, striking out Mitch Overley to end the inning.
Holovach kept the Cardinals scoreless during his five-inning stretch on the mound, helping Missouri (4-5) to a 9-2 rubber match victory over Ball State (2-6). Winning game three was one thing, but Holovach said he had a little extra motivation for his performance.
“On the way back from San Francisco (coach Tim Jamieson) said I hadn’t been the same since I got put in the pen so he’d be starting me,” Holovach said. “I had a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to prove that I could do better than what I had been doing.”
The lefty pitcher worked one-third of an inning in California, giving up six hits and one run.
“It’s a different mindset, you don’t have as much time to warm up and you have to worry about runners,” Holovach said. “It was the first time I’d ever come out of the pen was this year. It was a lonely experience for me, but (when I start) I’m more comfortable and more relaxed.”
Solid pitching has been a story for the Tigers all series as the team gave up no more than five runs a game throughout the series.
Jamieson is trying to help develop his young bullpen by mixing them with more veteran players. Jamieson’s tactic seemed to be working Sunday: after seven innings Missouri hadn’t given up a run. Freshman John Miles started the sixth inning to relieve Holovach, pitching two innings.
“I thought John was great,” Jamieson said. “He threw strikes and later in the year we might have left him in there, but we didn’t want to take chances at this point in the year.”
The Columbia native and Rock Bridge grad made his debut on the mound with three strikeouts, but followed with a costly walk that gave Ball State its first run of the game.
Jamieson said he still plans to play around with his young bullpen to get the right chemistry. That should be easy for Jamieson if his Tigers offense stays as hot as it was Sunday.
Dillon Everett lead the team, launching three line drives, scoring two runs and two RBIs. It was breakout performance for the sophomore infielder who came into the game with one hit and one run in the series.
“I saw a pretty good fast ball there,…” Everett said. “(We’re) just sticking with our approach that we worked on in the fall. It’s finally working out which is satisfying.”
Jamieson said the team’s success is building confidence.
“We built confidence through the game yesterday and we played with confidence today,” Jamieson said. “I really believe that when the guys focus on the right things, we’ll be a great offensive team.”
Missouri will face Nebraska-Omaha in Columbia on Tuesday at 6 p.m.