Missouri depending on sunny skies

Tigers will play four games this weekend, if the weather allows.
Thursday, February 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:49 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Missouri baseball team takes its show on the road for the first three weeks of every season, hoping to avoid nasty weather.

But while Columbia enjoyed unseasonably warm weather last weekend, rain and the resulting field conditions in Phoenix forced the cancellation of three of the Tigers’ four scheduled games.

“Phoenix was the last place I was expecting to get three or four inches of rain,” junior infielder Zane Taylor said. “We got one game in, and it’s frustrating because we were expecting to get four games and get our work in.”

The Tigers will try again this weekend in the Griffin/Pontiac Challenge in Rock Hill, S.C. At 3 p.m. , Missouri will take on host Winthrop, which is ranked No. 25 in Baseball America’s national poll. Sophomore Max Scherzer will make his first start of the season for the Tigers. Missouri plays Gardner-Webb at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Winthrop again at noon Saturday and closes the tournament against Akron at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Taylor said because of last week’s cancellations, it doesn’t feel like the Tigers have any game experience.

“It’s almost like starting the season again, this weekend,” he said. “It was almost like an exhibition last weekend.”

There’s no guarantee the Tigers will play all four games this weekend, either. Weather reports for Rock Hill high temperatures in the low 50s with a 60 percent chance of rain Sunday.

In the one game the Tigers have been able to play, they beat Portland 8-3 on Feb. 10. Two games against Oregon State and a match-up with Northwestern were all cancelled.

Missouri raced to a 6-0 lead in the first five innings against Portland behind strong starting pitching from senior Eric Dessau and some timely hitting. Shortstop Greg O’Neill, a junior-college transfer, went 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBI.

But then, rain made things difficult.

“You kind of get geared up to play and then you don’t play,” coach Tim Jamieson said, “and then you try to get geared up again, and it’s not easy.

Jamieson said Missouri will try to make up for the missed games by asking teams like Eastern Michigan, Youngstown State and North Dakota State if they would extend scheduled three-game series to four games, and by adding games against other teams that had games canceled by weather.

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