Missouri baseball team wins again at Big 12 Tournament

Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 9:59 p.m. CDT; updated 12:57 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 27, 2011
Missouri's Eric Garcia tosses his batting helmet in the air after his game-winning hit in the ninth inning of the Tigers' Big 12 Tournament game Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Even though the Missouri baseball team had blown a five-run lead, Tigers first baseman Eric Garcia said he was thrilled with the way the game ended.  

Garcia's single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in the winning run against Oklahoma State on Thursday in Oklahoma City. The 6-5 victory advances the Tigers to the semifinals in the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

"It felt great," Garcia said. "We’ve had some great ninth-inning wins and extra-inning wins, and today is probably one of the biggest ones we’ve had all year just because we need to win this tournament. I feel like we’re getting our confidence right now.”

It was Missouri's fifth walk-off win of the season and Garcia’s second of the year.

Missouri (26-30) will have the day off Friday, with a 9 a.m game on Saturday against the winner of an elimination game between the Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns. Whoever wins that game will need to defeat the Tigers twice on Saturday in order to advance to the final.

On Thursday, the Tigers scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to break a scoreless tie. Jesse Santo had a two-RBI single, Brannon Champagne singled-in another run and two more Tigers runners scored on bases-loaded walks.

But the Cowboys came back in the eighth with Zach Johnson's three-run home run to left-center field. Then the Cowboys loaded the bases for Johnson in the ninth, and he responded with a two-run single to tie the game.

Andrew Thigpen led off the Tigers' half of the ninth with his third hit of the day, and Conner Mach followed that with his third hit of the game. Garcia then singled through the right side to score the winning run.

"I’m really proud of these guys, not just this weekend but the last five or six weeks," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. "We’re looking forward to playing on Saturday.

"They (his players) know we have to finish above .500 or win the tournament. We can’t finish above .500, so it’s pretty simple math.”

Senior lefty Phil McCormick earned his eighth win of the season after blowing the save in the ninth. His eight wins are the most by a Tiger this season. Freshman starter Rob Zastryzny got a tough no-decision, going seven innings while allowing two earned runs and striking out seven, just one off of his career high.

Oklahoma State (35-22) will face Texas (41-14) at 3:15 p.m. Friday.

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