A bizarre sixth inning closed out Mizzou’s season-opening baseball game Friday afternoon at the USC Tournament at Dedeaux Field, as the Tigers plated six runs in between two rain delays for a 10-9, six-inning win over Cal Poly.
Play was delayed for 54 minutes by rain in the middle of the sixth and Mizzou down 9-4, and halted again following a freak accident in the Cal Poly dugout involving an errant bat that struck a Mustang. Rain resumed during that delay, and the game would eventually be called due to the rain.
In between the two delays, Mizzou roared back thanks to five hits, a key error and a wild pitch. Sophomore SS Eric Garcia started off with a single, advanced on a balk and scored on a single by junior 2B Conner Mach, who promptly stole second himself.
Sophomore Blake Brown, sophomore Brannon Champagne had RBI singles, the latter to load the bases with two out. Senior Jonah Schmidt appeared to end the inning on a bouncer to short, but the first baseman couldn’t pick the throw, and Santo and Brown scored to tie the game.
Champagne then scored the winning run on a wild pitch by Eugene Wright.
Freshman Dusty Ross earned the win for Mizzou by getting the final two outs of the sixth.
Both teams wasted no time getting on the board. Cal Poly’s first two hitters smacked doubles to the wall off Tiger junior-college transfer Matt Stites to put the Mustangs up, 1-0.
The Tigers countered in the bottom half with Schmidt on second after a two-out fielder’s choice and a stolen base. Mach then drilled a 2-2 pitch to the wall in right-center to tie the game.
Stites settled down over the next 3.1 innings, retiring the next 10 Cal Poly batters to keep Mizzou in the game. But Cal Poly would come back to take a 3-1 lead.
The Mustangs added another two-out run in the fifth, but the Tigers chased starter Steven Fischback during the bottom half to tie the game at four. With rain beginning to fall, sophomore Dane Opel laced a single past the right fielder for a two-base error.
Junior Ryan Gebhart walked, and advanced to third on a Brown single up the middle to plate Opel. Senior Jesse Santo then drove Gebhart in on a single through the left side, and Brown tied the game on Champagne’s grounder to third.
Cal Poly struck back in the top of the sixth. With one out and runners at the corners, senior Kelly Fick fielded a sacrifice attempt and successfully caught a Cal Poly player in a rundown at third.
But umpires ruled Santo obstructed in the process and awarded Cal Poly the run as a result. The miscue opened the floodgates for three more hits and a walk to plate five unearned runs before Mizzou’s rally.
The readjusted schedule will bring Mizzou back to the field to take on host USC at Noon. Mizzou will finish up the tournament tomorrow with a game against North Carolina.