Story by Gary Cotton
Photos by Kevin Donnellan
An error from High Point's Sal Pezzino allows Eric Garcia to reach first in the opening inning.
Missouri's starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny in the first inning. The sophomore pitched five and two-third innings, giving up nine hits and striking out five.
Missouri extended its winning streak to nine with a 8-7 walk-off win against High Point on Friday. A clutch hit from senior catcher Ben Turner came right on time as the Tigers held on after a late surge by the Panthers. Turner said the team fed off the energy of the close game.
“It’s the first time we’ve been tied or had a situation with an opportunity to win like that,” Turner said. “I think a lot of guys were excited.”
They were a lot more excited when they actually won.
The same couldn’t be said for coach Tim Jamieson, who wasn’t happy his team had to play the inning at all.
It all started when the Panthers got on the board in the third inning after errors by Eric Garcia and Blake Brown that loaded the bases. Missouri’s starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny gave up hits to Mike Miedzianowski and Sean Wilson, allowing two runs for the Panthers. Zastryzny gave up a total of nine hits and six runs in five and two-thirds innings pitched.
“Rob found a way to let them back in the game,” Jamieson said. “Both teams were sloppy tonight. Fortunately they were just a little sloppier than we were.”
The Tigers responded with a hard three-run double by Dane Opel. The line drive gave the Tigers the lead 4-2. Missouri never gave up the lead again thanks to sophomore reliever Jake Walsh. But the lefty pitcher gave up a home run in the ninth to tie the game at seven.
“After the leading home run in the ninth and then the base hit, it would’ve been real easy to cave in in that situation,” Jamieson said. “He put up a zero after that which gave us a chance to win.”
Walsh would finish the game giving up just two hits off one and one-third innings pitched.
As the fans roared their approval, third baseman Blake Brown registered one last single in the ninth before Turner brought him home. Jamieson said the crowd was the difference maker in the team’s toughest win of the streak.
“That’s the advantage of playing at home,” Jamieson said. “Once you get to that point in the game we get two at-bats for every one of there’s so it’s a lot easier to win.”
Missouri will play High Point again Saturday at 2 p.m.