The Mizzou baseball team split a doubleheader with No. 7 Oklahoma on Friday after losing game one, 3-1, and winning game two in thrilling fashion, 2-1, on a walk-off single by second baseman Eric Garcia in the 11th inning. In all, the Tiger pitching staff held Oklahoma, which came into the series as the top offense in the Big 12, to just one earned run over 20 innings of baseball.
The highlight of the night for the Tigers was the nightcap. After both teams got quality outings from their starting pitchers, Mizzou and Oklahoma were deadlocked at 1-1 heading into extra innings. Mizzou had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but left fielder Dane Opel stranded the bases loaded.
But Mizzou seemed to take that momentum into the extra frames. Reliever Phil McCormick, who threw 4.1 innings in relief of starter Matt Stites, kept OU off balance and allowed just one batter to reach base in the extra frames.
That set the stage for the Tiger offense in the 11th. After two outs to start the inning, designated hitter Jonah Schmidt came to the plate and tallied a triple to right center for his third hit of the day. Schmidt was thinking three right off the bat and slid in under the tag, putting the winning run just 90 feet from home plate.
Eric Garcia was next up and knocked a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to plate Schmidt for the Tigers’ first walk-off win this season. Had Schmidt not taken third on the ball he hit to right center, he likely would not have scored on the play, making his aggressiveness on the base paths one of the key plays in the game.
Schmidt led the Tigers at the plate in game two, going 3-6 with a run and an RBI. Garcia went 1-5 at the plate but had the biggest hit of the game in the 11th inning. Jesse Santo went 2-4 and Blake Brown was 1-3 with a run scored as well.
But it was the pitchers who stole the show in game two. Stites threw 6.2 innings of work and scattered just seven hits while allowing one earned run while striking out five Sooner batters. McCormick was lights-out as well, allowing just one Sooner hit over the final 4.1 innings of the game while striking out four batters, earning his third win of the season.
The appearance was his Big 12-leading 14th of the season. Those two pitchers combined the throw all of the 11 innings in the game for Mizzou.
The pitching was also very good in game one as lefty starter Rob Zastryzny had one of the best starts of his young career. He threw 8.0 innings of work and stuck out a career-high eight batters while scattering just six hits and walking just one.
He allowed three runs in the game, but none were earned as errors haunted him in the first and seventh innings. He now boasts an ERA of 2.65, which is tops on the team among starters. Jeff Emens also threw a scoreless inning in the game.
Mizzou tried to mount a comeback in the first game, scoring one run in the ninth. In fact, Mizzou loaded the bases with two outs, but Brannon Champagne struck out looking to end the game at 3-1 in favor of OU. Zastryzny was a tough-luck loser in the first game as OU’s Michael Rocha earned his sixth win of the season.
Ben Turner and Brown both tallied multi-hit games in contest, going 2-4 and 2-3 respectively. Brown drove in the Tigers’ only run in the game.
With snow in the forecast, Mizzou and Oklahoma will try and play a doubleheader this afternoon at 4:00.