Things are just getting underway here at cloudy, chilly Taylor Stadium with freshman Eric Anderson on the mound for Mizzou. Anderson's been very good so far this year, so we'll see if he can continue his success at home.
The lineup today for Mizzou:
Lots of freshman (Champagne, Brown, Garcia, Opel, Anderson) playing today, as you can see. It's not because Xavier is 1-10 on the season, either—these kids are talented.
Anderson's off to a rough start, though, allowing the first two Xavier hitters to reach on singles through the left side.
Top 1—Anderson bounces back, getting a strikeout looking, flyout, and strikeout looking to get Mizzou out of the inning. His breaking stuff looked a lot sharper after the first two batters and he aced Xavier No. 5 hitter Neil Linogren with a beautiful two-seam fastball that tailed right back to the outside corner.
Bottom 1—A couple of RBI groundouts by Brett Nicholas and Eric Garcia gave Mizzou a quick 2-0 lead that was doubled on a line shot home run off the bat of Jonah Schimdt that easily cleared the 400-foot marker to the left of the batter's eye in center. That ball got outta here QUICK.
Top 3—Anderson's hit a rough patch, allowing three runs so far with only one out. A sharp single to left scored the first run and then Anderson balked in the second. The third scored on a bloop single to center that was bobbled by Champagne, allowing the run to score.
Xavier's now taken the lead on a two-run single by left fielder Daniel Rod. Missouri is sending a couple of pitchers down to the bullpen, so Anderson might not be long for his home debut.
Anderson got out of the inning, but the damage has been done. All five runs were earned.
Here's a quick look at some photos from tonight's action:
Eric Anderson delivers in the top of the second inning during Missouri's game against Xavier Friday, March 12, 2010 at Taylor Stadium in Columbia.
Brannon Champagne lays down a bunt in the bottom of the second inning.
Michael Liberto grounds out in the bottom of the second inning.
Ryan Ampleman walks back to the dugout after striking out looking in the bottom of the second.
Bottom 3—Mizzou comes right back and ties it on a RBI single by Eric Garcia. However, Brett Nicholas was gunned down at home plate trying to score on a bases-loaded fly ball off the bat of Dane Opel, so MU only came out of the inning with one run.
It's starting to rain at a pretty steady pace now, too—and this game still has a little ways to go before it's official.
Aaron Senne readies himself before an at-bat in the bottom of the third.
Eric Garcia connects for a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the third.
Jonah Schmidt swings and misses in the bottom of the third.
Eric Anderson delivers a pitch in the top of the fourth.
Bottom 4—Mizzou takes the lead on a Brannon Champagne sacrifice fly that scored Mike Liberto. Anderson couldn't hold a five-run lead, so let's see how he does with a significantly smaller margin of error.
Top 5—With the rain continuing to fall at a steady pace, Anderson gives up a RBI single to center that ties the game at six. A spectacular diving catch by Aaron Senne in foul territory got Anderson out of the inning—Senne raced back over his left shoulder on a popup and had to leave his feet, leaping and diving nearly straight back to snag the ball and end the frame.
Top 6—Missouri changes pitchers, pulling Anderson after five innings in favor of lefty Zach Hardoin. Anderson allowed six runs—all earned—on 10 hits, one walk, and six strikeouts with one wild pitch and balk thrown in there. He threw 86 pitches.
It's obvious Anderson has the stuff to pitch effectively at this level—you don't just have a 1:6 BB/K ratio in a start by accident—but he, like most freshmen pitchers in college, will have to avoid allowing a couple of bad breaks to balloon into a big inning like we saw in the third today.
Senne just made another nice defensive play—this time diving to his right on a ground ball to the right side, stopping it and waltzing to first to get Hardoin out of a jam. Had the ball got through, the Xavier runner on third would have scored to give Xavier the lead. And with the weather conditions as iffy as they are right now (although the rain has let up a bit), any lead at this point in the game is big.
Top 7—A note I failed to make earlier in the live blog: Xavier has played an absolutely brutal schedule this year. They werre swept in a three-game series at Tennessee to open the year and followd that up by dropping two of three at No. 3 Georgia Tech the next weekend.
They then dropped a single road game to NC State and a three-game road series at Wake Forest before losing their first home game of the year to Le Moyne on Tuesday.
Tyler Clark is now in to pitch for Mizzou.
I don't know if it's the wet conditions or what, but Ryan Ampleman has airmailed two throws down to second on stolen bases today—neither throw has even been close to Mike Liberto or Eric Garcia. Obviously, that's only two throws in poor conditions, so don't read too much into it, but those bad throws are going to have to not be a trend or else opposing baserunners are going to run all over Missouri this year.
Bottom 8—Mizzou wastes a nice opportunity to take the lead. Brett Nicholas led the inning off with a single and was pinch-ran for by Andrew Thigpen, who advanced to second on an Eric Garcia bunt. However, Jonah Schmidt flew out to left and Dane Opel struck out to end the inning with Thigpen in scoring position.
We head to the top of the ninth with Phil McCormick on the mound for Missouri.
Top 9—McCormick gets the first two outs and surrenders a single before being lifted in favor of Jeff Emens. Jamieson rolled the dice leaving the left-handed sidearming McCormick in against a couple of right-handed hitters, and it nearly worked.
Emens gets out of the inning by inducing a groundout to second. Mizzou now goes to the bottom of the ninth with a chance to win.
Bottom 9— The rain has started to come down harder now and we've already seen a few bats go flying on swings and misses. Both pitchers are having a tough time gripping the ball, too, especially on breaking pitches.
Brannon Champagne just took a two-out walk to bring Blake Brown to the plate with a runner on first.
Brown strikes out swinging to end the inning, so it's time for some free baseball (in miserabe conditions, I might add).
Emens is taking the mound to begin the inning.
Top 10—Emens escapes the 10th unscathed. After a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt, Emens got a groundout and flyout to strand the would-be go-ahead run at second.
It'll be the heart of the order due up for Missouri in the bottom of the inning: Senne, Thigpen, and Garcia.
Bottom 10—A two-out walk by Eric Garcia goes for naught as Jonah Schmidt ends the inning with a groundout to second. We're heading to the 11th as grounds crew members work furiously on the mound and batters box. Emens is still out there.
Top 11—Emens sets Xavier down in order. Both pitchers have really done a good job bearing down in these sloppy conditions—they've somehow found a way to throw strikes without likely having a good feel for the baseball.
Bottom 11—Another quick inning as Mizzou goes down in order. So, as we go to the 12th, this game has become a game of offensive chicken.
Top 12—Emens shuts Xavier down again, allowing just a single in another scoreless inning. It'll be interesting to see who Missouri goes to if this game continues to the point where Emens is gassed—maybe Kelly Fick.
Bottom 12—Another (what else?) 1-2-3 inning. We're going to the 13th still tied up at six. On the bright side, this was a 6pm start, so it's not incredibly late...
Top 13—Emens does a great job pitching over a one-out walk and a pair of stolen bases, stranding Xavier's John McCambridge at third to end the inning.
According to the Columbia Tribune's Matt Nestor, Emens' career-high in innings pitched was two and a third coming into tonight's game. He's now thrown 5.1 innings today, and there's nobody warming in Missouri's bullpen as the bottom of the inning begins.
Bottom 13—Andrew Thigpen drew a leadoff walk and stole second thanks to a low throw, so Missouri has something going here.
Garcia singles to left, so Jonah Schmidt is batting with runners at the corners and nobody out.
Xavier decides to walk Schmidt, setting up a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation for Andreas Plackis, who is pinch-hitting for Dane Opel.
Plackis picks up a sac fly to right to score Andrew Thigpen on a very close play at the plate. Xavier's coach and catcher exploded at the umpire after the play as Mizzou wins 7-6 in 13.