Folgia does it all for Missouri baseball team

Saturday, March 7, 2009 | 5:35 p.m. CST; updated 10:13 p.m. CST, Saturday, March 7, 2009
Missouri junior Greg Folgia leads off first base against Ball State on Saturday at Taylor Stadium.

COLUMBIA — Meet Mr. Do-it all for the MU baseball team. Junior Greg Folgia stands 5-foot-11, weighs 194 pounds and has floppy hair. He holds down five jobs for the Missouri baseball team.

Folgia's responsibilities include lead-off hitter, relief pitcher, starting left fielder, spark plug and pitch-taker.

"I think at some point when I was a kid I wanted to do everything," Folgia said.  "At any early age, I always wanted to pitch. Growing up, I liked trying to be versatile so I could hit too."

On Saturday, Folgia did it all. He  threw out a runner at home from left field, hit a ball off the wall for a triple, had a sacrifice fly for an RBI, was hit by two pitches, pitched one scoreless inning in relief and had an at-bat where he fouled off five pitches before hitting the ball over the 370-foot sign on the left field wall and into the pine trees. 

"Winning the game was the best part of the day," Folgia said.

Mizzou split a doubleheader with Ball State. The Cardinals (5-4) won the first game 14-5. The Tigers (5-8) won the second game 18-4.

In the first game, Tiger starter Kelly Fick gave up seven earned runs and nine hits in 1.2 innings pitched and Missouri never recovered from the seven-run deficit after the second inning.

"He's got to make better pitches and finish the at-bats and he didn't do it," coach Tim Jamieson said. "That was the key to that game, we didn't get good starting pitching."

Second game starter Ian Berger struck out nine Cardinals including a stretch where he struck out five  in a row after giving up a 2-run home run to Kory Benbow.

"I tried to attack them," Berger said. "I just wanted to throw every pitch with conviction."

Growing up, Folgia loved playing baseball so much that he figured he'd learn how to do everything.

"I liked playing so I figured I could play wherever," Folgia said.

That's why Folgia has turned Mr. Everything for the Tigers. His freshman season, Folgia pitched 60 innings mainly as a relief pitcher. Last season, he was the  starting second baseman and led off. He also made three starts on the mound. He was named to the All-Big 12 honorable mention team.

This season, Folgia starts in left field and has pitched four innings in relief.

"It'd be kinda cool if I'm in left field then go into bullpen to warm up then run in from the outfield to pitch," Folgia said. "That'd be a little dramatic entrance." 

When leading off, Folgia tries to accomplish several things.

"I try and get into a deep two-strike count," Folgia said. "I'm trying to show the guys  pitches the pitcher has.

"And try and get on base as much as possible."

Jamieson moved Folgia to sixth in the batting order for Wednesday's home opener before moving him back into the lead-off role on Friday. The switch has paid dividends. Folgia reached base six times in 10 plate appearances on Saturday.

In the three games against Ball State, Folgia has reached base nine times in 13 plate appearances.

"He's been struggling so much that we tried to move him around," Jamieson said. "It's our best lineup when he's at the top of the lineup."

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