When Missouri entered the 2009 season, the Tigers' baseball team was ranked No. 10 in the country. A tough road trip to Arizona left the team in the hole, ranked 2-7 after the Grand Canyon Classic and Arizona State Tournament.
Finally back at home, the Tigers' return to Taylor Stadium became a proving ground of sorts.
After shutting out Western Illinois 8-0 in their home opener, the team's first shutout this season, the Tigers moved on to a four-game weekend series against Ball State, where the Tigers won three of four games and a series victory. This was the first time the two teams had ever met.
Friday night's game one win over Ball State showcased Missouri's starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, who set a career high as he netted 13 strikeouts in the 4-1 win. Gibson threw 114 pitches. Gibson's previous career high was 11 strikeouts last season against Toledo.
Until the bottom of the fourth inning, Missouri trailed 1-0, but the team scored four runs to put themselves on the scoreboard.
Missouri junior Kyle Mach drove home another run during the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Tigers would go on to beat Ball State 4-1.
Saturday, the Tigers and Ball State split the doubleheader.
During the first game, the Tigers suffered a 14-5 loss to the Cardinals. In the first two innings, Ball State scored seven runs in the first two innings and held an early lead. By the fifth inning, the lead was 12-1.
Missouri started slow during the second game and pulled away late in the third inning. Junior Trevor Coleman put the Tigers ahead when he scored a two-run homerun, followed by a triple into centerfield by senior Steve Gray.
In total, the Tigers scored 18 runs, the most the team has scored during any game this season.
Sunday, Missouri trailed Ball State at the start of the game with no hits and was down three runs. During the fifth inning, freshman Conner Mach hit a home run to tie the game. It was Mach's first home run.
Before the end of the game, Mach scored twice.
After Mach's homerun, Missouri put in a run in the bottom of the fifth inning and answered a run by the Cardinals at the top of the seventh.
Sophomore Nick Tepesch set a career high strikeouts at 12 against Ball State and pitched his first win of the season. The Tigers went on to win the game 7-6 and to win the series.
Missouri will host Western Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Taylor Stadium before opening Big 12 conference play against the Texas Longhorns in Austin next weekend.
Juana Summers is a journalism student at the University of Missouri-Columbia