Mizzou baseball walks to victory against Kansas State

Story by Kevin Donnellan
Photos by Gary Cotton

Crowd

Brannon Champagne celebrates in front of a full crowd after being walked in the bottom of the ninth inning. The crowd was the seventh largest in Missouri baseball history.

Missouri’s biggest home crowd of the season was rewarded with a 4-3 walk-off win on Saturday. The Tigers have won both games against Kansas State so far in the series.

The crowd of 2,049 fans, the seventh largest in Missouri Tigers baseball history, saw Kansas State establish a first inning lead that was not relinquished until the bottom of the ninth inning.

Missouri starting pitcher Blake Holovach gave up five hits and three runs before exiting the game after the fifth inning with a 3-0 deficit.

Runs from Eric Garcia and Andreas Plackis in the seventh closed the gap to one.

In the bottom of the ninth, Blake Brown started the rally with a single. He said the team felt confident a win could be secured going into the final inning.

“It wasn’t like we were out there just getting blown away at the plate,” Brown said. “We were putting the bat on the ball. We were improving with our approach as the innings went by, so really we were pretty positive.”

An error by Kansas State relief pitcher Nate Williams allowed Andreas Plackis to reach first base despite a failed sacrifice bunt attempt. Dane Opel’s single scored Brown and tied the game. Sal Belfonte then walked to load the bases.

Back to back Tigers struck out swinging with no outs to set the stage for a dramatic conclusion.

Brannon Champagne stepped to the plate with the crowd on their feet. The junior outfielder worked the count to 3-2, and on the final pitch of the game drew a walk-off walk.

“You want to hit, and you want to be aggressive,” he said. “I was able to draw the walk so I mean any way you can get the win is always nice.”

Coach Tim Jamieson was keen to point out the decisive factor in the result.

“As crazy as this may sound…the crowd helped win the game. You got a fresh pitcher on the mound, nervous. He had to step off because it was so loud,” Jamieson said. “So they deserve as much credit as our players for that last run.”

The win brings Missouri to 5-9 in the Big 12 Conference and 20-17 overall.

Jamieson stuck to a “one game at a time” mantra heading into Sunday’s series finale.

“It’s not so much the sweep. It’s just one more win in the win column. You’re 5-9 in the league. You’re trying to get closer to .500,” Jamieson said. “Every game you lose it’s two more games you got to win.”

Missouri will look to make it three for three against Kansas State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.

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