Holt sparks Missouri's climb up the standings

Saturday, May 9, 2009 | 6:29 p.m. CDT; updated 9:15 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 11, 2009
Missouri pitcher Scooter Hicks makes his delivery Saturday against Kansas.

COLUMBIA — Senior Austin Holt dove head first into second base and stood up clapping his hands.

Holt didn't have to dive head first, the throw from the outfielder wasn't going to be close. Holt just wanted to set the tone for the rest of the weekend.


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"When you have energy in baseball, you have momentum," Holt said.

That was three weeks ago, against Texas Tech. Missouri went on to score 18 runs that night after Holt's leadoff double and swept the Red Raiders. The Tigers won seven straight games after that and found themselves in second place in the Big 12 Conference.

But the Tigers lost to Kansas 7-4 on Saturday afternoon at Taylor Stadium. The loss ended the Tigers (29-23) seven-game winning streak in the Big 12 and ruining the Tigers' chances of ending the weekend in first place in the conference standings.

"We had our chances but didn't hit when we needed to," third baseman Kyle Mach said. "There's a whole bunch of zeroes (on the scoreboard) after the fifth inning."

Kansas (35-17) scored four of its seven runs with two outs in the inning. Missouri left 11 men on base in the game.

Since Holt took over the starting job at second base against Indiana State on May 14,  Missouri has gone 13-6. 

Coming into Saturday's game against Kansas, Holt was batting .313 and was reaching base more than 50 percent of the time, allowing him to score runs when the heart of the Missouri lineup comes up to the plate.

"One of the main reason's we're winning is because of Austin Holt," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. "Pitching is a lot harder when you have people on base and he does a great job getting on base."

It was the second time this season that Holt was given the chance to have the starting job.

Holt started three games in late March but the Tigers lost badly in two of those games against Oklahoma State, and Holt found himself sitting on the bench again.

"Once I got back in the lineup again, I knew I wasn't going back to the bench," Holt said.

Holt came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning with Missouri trailing by three. Holt watched as the first two pitches were thrown into the dirt for balls. He took a called strike, then at another ball. With the count 3-1 in his favor, Holt says he took an impatient swing and hit a chopper to the second baseman who threw out Holt at first base.

"I probably should have took another pitch to get it to 3-2," Holt said, disappointed about the loss.

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