TUCSON, Ariz. — Missouri’s magical momentum carried into the early innings of a first-round NCAA national tournament baseball game against Arizona, but it suddenly fizzled in the desert.
Making their eighth regional appearance in 10 seasons, the Tigers (32-27) led twice in three innings but gave up seven runs in a disastrous fourth that propelled the top-seeded Wildcats (39-17) to a 15-3 victory Friday in Tucson. Missouri was outhit 20-4 and burned through four pitchers.
Missouri’s euphoria of a five-game winning streak is gone and its improbable run through the Big 12 tournament is an afterthought. The fourth-seeded Tigers sit a loss away from elimination heading into their meeting against second-seeded New Mexico State at 6 p.m. Saturday. Louisville (40-20) upset the Aggies (35-23) in the opener, 3-2.
Missouri had its sights set on an upset at the outset. Against Arizona starter Kurt Heyer (12-2) in the first inning, Missouri’s Eric Garcia led off with a single and Blake Brown followed with an RBI triple. Brown scored on a Ben Turner groundout and the Tigers led 2-0.
In the bottom of the first, the Wildcats tied it with two runs off of Missouri starter Blake Holovach (7-5). Missouri took the lead back on a Dillon Everett sacrifice fly in the top of the second, but that was the last of the Tigers offense.
Arizona, making its 37th appearance in the national tournament, began playing up to its No. 11 ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Wildcats sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and faced three Tigers pitchers. They knocked out Holovach after 3 1/3 innings. The Missouri junior gave up six runs on 10 hits. Ryan Yuengel faced five batters in relief and surrendered three more runs. John Miles gave up one more before finally working out of it.
The Wildcats added six more runs before it was over. Heyer needed 118 pitches to pick up his seventh complete game of the season. The junior was a second-team All-American this year.
Louisville edges New Mexico State 3-2
Louisville beat the 107-degree heat and a powerful New Mexico State team, opening the NCAA tournament's Tucson regional with a 3-2 victory Friday night.
Justin Amlung gave up a first-inning run but settled in to throw six innings. He allowed only one earned run as third-seeded Louisville (40-25) earned a spot in the winners' bracket in the regional.
Second-seeded New Mexico State had several opportunities to score. Bryan Karraker went 2 for 4 and catcher Zac Fisher had both RBIs for the Aggies (35-23). New Mexico State will have to battle through the losers' bracket. Its pitching will be taxed after using six pitchers in the opening loss.