Mizzou baseball fails to complete rally in loss to Texas

Story by Gary Cotton

After dropping their last four games, the Tigers needed to make some changes. The usually playful dugout was stoic. The lineup was changed. Players even switched up their walk-up music.

While the Tigers made as many changes as they could, the results stayed the same. Missouri’s losing streak continued with a 6-4 loss to Texas.

The Tigers failed to record a hit through the first four innings, and failed to capitalize late with runners in scoring position.

Missouri broke out of the hitless streak in the fifth inning. A triple by Andreas Plackis to lead off the inning looked as if it may start a Missouri rally. Tigers fans let out relieved cheers when he slid into third base.

After the next two batters, Texas starting pitcher Parker French was forced to leave the game early with an injury. Texas had to reach into their bullpen sooner than expected.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity for Missouri to begin a comeback, but the Texas bullpen retired the next two batters and surrendered only one run after the leadoff triple.

Coach Tim Jamieson said the Longhorns did not lose much with the pitching change.

“You hate to see that. We’re going through that right now with Eric (Anderson),” Jamieson said. “Milner and Knebel were with Team USA last year. They’re two of the best players in the country so it wasn’t that much of a drop off.”

Missouri did find a way to stay in the game however. The Tigers scored twice in the sixth inning to bring the deficit to 5-3.

Eric Garcia led off the seventh inning with a double, and the Tigers had another opportunity for a rally.

But again the results did not change.

The Tigers only scored one run in the inning, and could not catch up with the Longhorns.

“We caught a few situations that we definitely took advantage of,” Garcia said. “We took advantage of their mistakes, but we couldn’t play as well as we needed to.”

Even though the Tigers never had the lead, Jamieson said he was happy with their fight.

“The thing I’m most happy about is that when we’re down five nothing we still found a way to get back in the game,” Jamieson said. “I felt like we did some good things tonight, which after the win at Tech, we really hadn’t done much.”

Missouri will face Texas in game two of the three game series tomorrow at Taylor Stadium at 1 p.m.


Mizzou completes sweep of Kansas State with shutout

Story by Gary Cotton

Photos by Kevin Donnellan

The third game of the Missouri and Kansas State series felt like the second. Missouri led by three runs in the top of the seventh inning, and the Wildcats remained scoreless looking to make a comeback.

It was deja vu.

Blake Brown

Blake Brown prepares to catch a fly ball hit by Blair DeBord in the ninth inning. The final out secured the shutout and the series sweep for Missouri.

Unlike the Wildcats in game two of the series, the Tigers extended their three run lead to seven in the eighth inning. The Missouri bullpen preserved the shutout in the ninth for a 7-0 victory and a sweep of Kansas State.

Coach Tim Jamieson was pleased with the performance of his team in the series. He believed his team responded well after losing three games against Oklahoma to drop their conference record to 3-9.

“I think they recognize that there’s still a lot of baseball to be played,” Jamieson said. “You can’t get it all back in one game or one weekend.”

Pitcher Brett Graves helped to get at least one back for the Tigers. The freshman allowed no runs in six and two-thirds innings.

Graves led the Tigers defense allowing four hits on 94 pitches. After struggling early, he settled in and took control from the mound.

“I was getting behind a couple guys, and I had to trust the defense,” Graves said. “As the game went on, I got more comfortable with the curveball and threw a couple of changeups.”

Graves pitched all but the first inning with a lead after a strong offensive start by the Tigers.

Brannon Champagne extended his hitting streak to 30 games in the first inning. After stealing second base, Champagne scored the first run of the game on a two RBI single by Blake Brown.

“You know what you’re going to get with (Champagne),” Brown said. “It’s great to have him there so you don’t have to think about what he’ll do.”

Brown did his job for the Tigers too. He finished the game with three hits and one run, which came in the eighth inning on a Dane Opel single.

Opel said the sweep gave the Tigers a huge confidence boost. Missouri had not swept a conference team since 2010.

“It’s been a really long time, but it just feels really good to put three consistent games together,” Opel said. “I feel that everyone on the team, one through nine, they all did their job and put that together.”

Missouri will start a six game road trip on Wednesday with a non-conference game against Missouri State at 6:30 p.m. in Springfield, Mo.

Mizzou baseball walks to victory against Kansas State

Story by Kevin Donnellan
Photos by Gary Cotton


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.

Mizzou utilizes frustration in rout of Kansas State

Story by Gary Cotton

Photos by Kevin Donnellan

After being swept by Oklahoma and losing first baseman Mike McGraw to injury, Missouri coach Tim Jamieson was a little worried about his offense.

“McGraw had been one of our best hitters for the past three weeks,” Jamieson said. “We thought it would be more like a 3-2 game, so we were prepared to do the little things tonight.”

They scored 10 more runs than planned, routing Kansas State 13-4.

First baseman Andreas Plackis helped the team in a big way Friday night. Plackis went 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs and two RBIs.

Andreas Plackis

Andreas Plackis slides into second in the seventh inning. His double scored Sal Belfonte and Eric Garcia to extend the Tigers lead to 12-1.

The junior said getting short notice about starting did not make much of a difference.

“Coach just came up to me and told me to be ready,” Plackis said. “That’s what we do when we’re not on the field. We have to stay on the bench, and work hard to get our shot and produce for the team.”

Shortstop Eric Garcia said the team was frustrated, but focused as they entered the game. The Tigers entered the game tied for last place in the conference with a 3-9 conference record. Garcia said the team wanted to get an early jump on the Wildcats.

“We came out with some energy, and it really put a pep in our step,” he said. “We were able to stay positive with ourselves, and we knew we would be able to bounce back.”

The Tigers wanted to regain some momentum on Friday night, and the Wildcats helped them do it.

Missouri took advantage of costly errors by Kansas State, including one by Wildcat third baseman Austin Fisher. The error led to the first run of the game by Missouri catcher Ben Turner. Garcia then extended the lead to 4-0 after his second home run of the season.

Jamieson said the fast start set the tone for the Tigers.

“If they get the out there, we walk out of the inning tied at zero,” Jamieson said. “It ended up being a four-run inning, so it was a huge advantage for us to be able to take advantage of that mistake.”

The Tigers also came through with their pitching. Rob Zastryzny allowed just one run in eight innings. Just like the Tiger offense, Zastryzny took advantage of some questionable Wildcat plays.

“They took some bad swings off some bad pitches and it really helped me out early,” Zastryzny said. “I fell behind early to a few people. I’ve got to get that fixed and attack the zone better.”

Jamieson agreed saying his team needs to show the same fire they had against Oklahoma to stay on top of Kansas State during the series.

“We can’t be satisfied with a Friday night win,” Jamieson said. “K-State’s going to be a much better team tomorrow. I hope we come out tomorrow and have that same frustration.”

Missouri will play the second game of the series with Kansas State tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m at Taylor Stadium.

Slow second half start dooms Mizzou in loss

Story by Derek Klein
Video by Lauren Delaney

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton constantly stresses the importance of the first four minutes of the second half to her team. On Tuesday night, her team missed the message.

The Tigers were outscored by eight points in the first four minutes en route to a 75-62 loss to the Texas Longhorns at Mizzou Arena. Mizzou falls to 12-16 overall and 2-15 in Big 12 Conference play.

“Those first four minutes they played with a lot of energy, and we weren’t where we needed to be mentally or physically,” Pingeton said.

The Longhorns came out of the locker room on fire. Texas made six of its first seven shots, including two 3-pointers.

Turnovers allowed Texas to get out in transition and get some easy baskets.

The Tigers four-point halftime lead quickly disappeared, and the four-point advantage went to the Longhorns.

“We were attacking much more on offense,” Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. “We hit some shots and pulled away.”

Mizzou got off to another fast start, quickly gaining a 12-4 advantage in the first six minutes of the game. The Tigers increased the lead to 11 points with 13 minutes remaining in the half.

The Tigers made their first four 3-pointers, and were getting contributions from a variety of players. Bailey Gee, Kyley Simmons, Morgan Eye and Liene Priede each made a basket from long range.

Perhaps the biggest contributor was senior BreAnna Brock. Brock had seen her average drop nearly three points in conference play, but the senior made her presence known on senior night.

The forward dominated the first half. She recorded a first half double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 60 percent from the field. She finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds.

“We couldn’t do anything with her,” Goestenkors said. “That was one of the best games if not the best game I have seen her play.”

As the second half began, the Longhorns eliminated Brock’s effect with hot shooting of their own. Texas shot 57 percent from the field in the second half and 50 percent on 3-pointers.

Sophomore guard Chelsea Bass led the way with 18 points off the bench. Chassidy Fussell added 16 with nine coming in the second half.

The Tigers on the other hand struggled to make shots. Mizzou made only eight second half baskets, four of which Brock scored. Mizzou missed 13 3-pointers in the second half alone.

Senior Christine Flores struggled the most.

Flores came up short on senior night. Mizzou’s leading scorer managed only one point on 13 shots, nearly 17 points below her season average.

The single point was her lowest total on the season.

“I can’t explain it,” Flores said. “I’m very disappointed in myself, and I apologize to my team because I let them down.”

Flores understands her team needs her to turn it around if they hope to pull off an upset in the conference tournament. She knows her performance against the Longhorns was not enough for her team, and adjustments must be made.

“I got to get in the gym,” she said. “I got to go back, and I’m going to shoot. That’s all I can do.”

Mizzou heads to Oklahoma on Saturday, March 3 to face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the regular season finale. The showdown starts at 7 pm and will be the Tigers last regular season game as members of the Big 12.

Mizzou continues hot streak in victory over Kansas State

Story by Derek Klein
Photos by Lauren Delaney

The Missouri Tigers are coming into form late in the season.

The Tigers defeated the Kansas State Wildcats in overtime on Saturday afternoon, 61-56. The win was the first at home in conference play for Missouri.

Junior guard Liene Priede hits a 3-pointer with three seconds left to tie the score at 53. Priede’s shot gave Mizzou their second straight overtime game.

Mizzou has won two of their last three Big 12 conference games after losing their first 13. The only loss came in overtime at Iowa State.

“I truly believe we are a better team than we were a month ago,” Mizzou coach Robin Pingeton said.

Christine Flores led the way for Mizzou with 20 points, but Liene Priede was the hero for the Tigers.

Priede did not score her first points until the eight minute mark of the second half, but her 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left kept the Tigers alive.

“I kind of saw it was not going straight, but I had a feeling that it’s going to hit the backboard. It’s going to go in,” Priede said.

After a slow start, Priede dominated the final seconds of regulation and overtime. She scored four points in the last 16 seconds of regulation, and five of the Tigers had eight points in overtime.

Pingeton credited the late game heroics to Priede’s recent hard work.

“She’s been getting in a ton of extra shooting, and it really paid off for us tonight,” Pingeton said. “She rolls up her sleeves, and she goes to work.”

Pingeton praised her whole team after the victory. She believes the team is playing their best basketball at the right point in the season. She thinks the momentum the Tigers now have will continue into the final two games of the season and the Big 12 tournament.

“We are going to finish this a certain way, and we are going to finish going out fighting,” Pingeton said.

The Tigers will face the Texas Longhorns on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena. Mizzou will look for their third conference win of the season, and their third win in their last four games.