Walk pushes Missouri baseball past Kansas State

Saturday, April 21, 2012 | 7:06 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 21, 2012
The Missouri baseball team defeated Kansas State 4-3 on Saturday at Taylor Stadium on a walk-off walk.

COLUMBIA — When the Missouri baseball team loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of its game Saturday at Taylor Stadium, it looked as if a walk-off victory was guaranteed. When the team's next two batters struck out, it looked as if the game might be headed to extra innings.

But the next batter in their lineup knew how to get on base. 

Missouri center fielder Brannon Champagne, who has reached base in 29 straight games, came to the plate with a chance to win with a hit or walk. After falling behind in the count, Champagne drew a walk to give the Tigers their second straight win over Kansas State. 

Champagne, who had drawn two walks earlier in the day, said he was sitting on a curveball after watching the last two hitters strike out on that pitch.

"I just kept working the count and got to full," he said. "I was hoping he was going to come up with something fat, but I was able to draw the walk. So any way you can get the win is always nice."

Champagne, a junior, took an inside pitch close to the strike zone for a ball when the count was 2-2. Missouri coach Tim Jamieson attributed Champagne's patience to his experience and knowledge of the strike zone.

"It was a good call, but it was a tough pitch to take in that situation, so it's nice to have an experienced guy up there," Jamieson said. 

The Tigers scored all four of their runs in the last three innings after being frustrated in the first six. The Tigers hit into three double plays and had two runners caught stealing in the early going. 

The come-from-behind win came during Missouri's first televised game of the year and in front of the largest home crowd of the season. Jamieson said the team fed off the crowd's energy.

"They got a freshman pitcher on the mound, nervous," he said. "He had to step off because it was so loud. That's something that hopefully we will continue to have."

With the victory, the Tigers improve to 20-17 overall and 5-9 in Big 12 play. After guaranteeing a series win, they will have a chance to sweep Kansas State (19-20, 3-11) on Sunday.

Next week, the Tigers will travel to Texas Tech, a team that is 3-11 in the Big 12. 

Missouri right fielder Blake Brown said the sweep would be a big boost for the Tigers, who had lost seven straight conference games before this weekend.

"It would be really good for us looking forward because of the fact that we're playing teams that are in the same position we are," he said. "Being able to separate ourselves from one team, at least, would really benefit us."

Brett Graves will take the mound Sunday as the Tigers go for the sweep. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.

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