Missouri baseball team's scrappy play helps avoid series sweep

Sunday, April 4, 2010 | 6:05 p.m. CDT; updated 10:02 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 4, 2010
Missouri junior infielder Andrew Thigpen had two hits in his five at bats in Sunday's game against Baylor.

COLUMBIA — Andrew Thigpen set the tone.

The junior infielder, known for his scrappy play, made the most of a rare start in the Missouri baseball team's game against Baylor on Sunday at Taylor Stadium.

Thigpen had two hits, including a single in the seventh inning that put the Tigers up for good in their 13-9 come-from-behind win. The single wouldn’t have produced any runs if Thigpen hadn’t thrown in some scrappiness.

After Thigpen got to first and the first run scored, the Bears’ center fielder threw the ball to third. Thigpen raced to second on the play, and the third baseman made a bad throw that hit Thigpen as he collided with the second baseman. As Baylor’s second baseman grimaced in pain, Thigpen advanced to third, and the second run scored.

Thigpen and coach Tim Jamieson both considered the play aggressive and clean. Thigpen said he’s fine with being labeled scrappy.

“Sure,” Thigpen said. “Why not? That’s how I play. The coaches know that’s how I am. On Sundays, that’s what you have to do.”

Missouri (15-11, 2-4 Big 12) found itself in a 5-0 hole early. After losing the first two games of the series and everything seemingly going Baylor’s way, the Tigers had to find a way to wake up.

And like Thigpen, the team scratched and clawed its way back. Thigpen said a lot of things contributed to the turnaround.

“We were down,” Thigpen said. “We just had to turn it around. Had some older guys step up. Had a coach go off in the dugout, which I think really helped.”

Thigpen would not give the name of which coach did the scolding.

Before Thigpen’s big hit, the infielder had an embarrassing moment in the fifth inning. On an Aaron Senne double, Thigpen tripped and fell down between second and third base. He would have scored on the play, which made the embarrassment even worse.

“I have no idea,” Thigpen said. “I hit second, and after my second step off second I was like, ‘I’m going down.’ It happens. I was sitting on third with my head down. I was like, ‘Don’t look over there.’”

All was forgotten when freshman Dane Opel continued to get over his prolonged slump. Opel had three doubles in the game, including a two-out double in the fifth to plate Thigpen and Senne.

Opel said once the Tigers started hitting, they lifted their heads.

“Everyone came together,” Opel said. “Pitchers came in and did a good job after a little rough start of the game. We were there battling. We were battling the whole game.”

Jamieson said he wouldn’t have bet on his team to come back with the way they were acting in the dugout early on.

“Guys made some adjustments,” Jamieson said. “In that regard, I think that helped us too. Instead of guys sitting back waiting for bad things to happen, they started trying to fight a little bit and make good things happen."

Missouri plays Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Taylor Stadium before hitting the road again.

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