Sophomore's start highlights Missouri baseball victory over Ball State

Saturday, March 3, 2012 | 8:29 p.m. CST; updated 9:11 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 9, 2012
MU sophomore pitcher Rob Zastryzny winds up a pitch during a game against Ball State University on Saturday. After Missouri's four game losing streak, Zastryzny lead his team to defeat Ball State 15-5.

COLUMBIA — Coming off two shaky starts to begin his season, Missouri starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny took the mound at Taylor Stadium on Saturday with the Tigers on a four-game losing streak.

Both he and the team changed things Saturday. Zastryzny gave up three hits over six innings to lead his team to a 15-5 blowout against Ball State.

"It's definitely good being home, pitching in front of a home crowd," he said. "I'm used to that mound."

Zastryzny was perfect through five innings before surrendering his first hit and all three of his runs in the sixth. The performance came in the second of a 19-game homestand for the Tigers.  

After being named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2011, Zastryzny worked on developing his curveball during the offseason. Coach Tim Jamieson said his execution of that pitch was the key to his performance Saturday.

"That's the difference in him today versus last year," Jamieson said. "He's got a good fastball, but when you go through the lineup the third time, you need more than just a fastball."

The pitcher noted that his changeup was stronger than usual.

"I threw it the most I've thrown it in my career, so that was good," Zastryzny said. "I feel good as long as I can mix between all three of my pitches."

The win, Missouri's first in five games, was a confidence boost for an offense that was held to five hits Friday night. The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning without getting the ball out of the infield.

Even though it involved no hitting, Jamieson said the rally relieved some of the team's frustration.

"We haven't been walked, people haven't made errors against us, we haven't had anything created for us, and that's sometimes what has to happen," Jamieson said. "I'm glad it happened. I hope it happens again tomorrow."

Outfielder Blake Brown said the first inning set the tone for the afternoon.

"I don't think we really did anything that inning," Brown said. "They gave us that one. Maybe that was the thing we needed the whole time, just a little gift." 

Missouri's offense was highlighted by Brown's three-run home run and freshman Landon Lucansky's two-RBI double in his second collegiate start.

The victory sets up a rubber game on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium. With Saturday's win, Missouri improves to 3-5 on the season. 

Outfielder Dane Opel, who was Big 12 Player of the Week after the Tigers' season opener at Auburn, is still day-to-day with a quad injury, Jamieson said. Brown hopes to play again tomorrow after sitting out on Friday with back pain. 

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