Extra special home run

Johnson’s three-run home run keys Tigers’ 8th-inning comeback
Sunday, May 23, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:59 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Before Saturday, Kyle Johnson did not have an extra base hit for the Missouri baseball team.

That changed in the eighth inning.

The Tigers beat Oklahoma State 10-9 at Taylor Stadium in their final Big 12 Conference series behind an eighth-inning comeback that ended with Johnson’s extra base hit: a three-run home run.

Missouri (33-20-1, 11-4) leads the series 2-0 and is on a three-game winning streak.

The Cowboys led 7-3 heading into the eighth, but Missouri took a 9-7 lead. Oklahoma State’s Josh Fields saved the Cowboys (33-21, 15-10) momentarily in the ninth, hitting a two-run home run, his second of the game.

The Missouri offense responded again, though, loading the bases before James Boone hit a pop fly that cleared the drawn-in outfield, scoring Cody Ehlers for the win.

“I was just trying to put it in play,” Boone said. “You just don’t want to strike out in a situation like that.”

Lee Laskowski started the rally in the eighth with a leadoff walk and moved to second when Jeremy Hernandez singled. John McKee followed Hernandez and hit a double that scored Laskowski. Hernandez scored when Boone singled into center field, making the score 7-5.

Tyler Williams then hit a pinch-hit single to score McKee before Johnson came in to pinch hit for Gary Arndt.

Johnson went down 0-2, but was able to get one in the air that the strong wind carried over the left field fence, also scoring Boone and Williams.

“I hit it OK,” Johnson said. “It was not a home run on any other day without this wind. I got to first and I saw the left fielder slam into the wall a little bit and I was like, ‘Holy cow.’”

Johnson pumped his fists as he crossed home plate and said it was an emotional moment in his last home series.

“Rounding third a lot of things kind of flashed,” Johnson said. “It’s like five years in college kind of flashed right in front of me.”

Senior Jeremy Hernandez also had a big day, going 2-for-5 and hitting back-to-back home runs with Laskowski in the sixth.

“We didn’t give up, we didn’t let down,” Hernandez said. “We got the momentum back seeing we could score some runs and we kind of took it from there.”

Cody Ehlers hit his team-leading 15th home run in the first and was 3-for-5 with an RBI.

The series win is important for Missouri, which is looking to pass Nebraska in the Big 12 standings with a win today and avoid playing Texas in the first round of the conference tournament next week.

The Tigers need a strong showing in the tournament in Arlington, Texas, beginning Wednesday to have chance to make NCAA Regionals.

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