Hitting vanishes after hot start

Sunday, March 6, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:48 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Something strange happened between games of the doubleheader Saturday at Taylor Stadium. It almost seemed as if Missouri and Eastern Michigan had switched uniforms.

After pounding five Eastern Michigan pitchers for 18 hits in an 18-2 blowout in the first game, the Tigers went hitless through the first five innings of the nightcap while the Eagles were scoring runs. The Tigers (8-4) came back but couldn’t entirely make up the lost ground and fell 7-6.

Coach Tim Jamieson said the sudden drop-off in production could only partly be attributed to Eastern Michigan pitcher Matt Dimich.

“It was a combination,” Jamieson said. “You’ve got to give their kid some credit, he obviously threw some strikes and threw a lot of good pitches, but we didn’t do a very good job at the plate the first five or six innings as well.”

Missouri had its chances. Dimich walked the bases loaded in the fourth inning with one out but then struck out Jeff Zelenovich and Dan Pietroburgo to end the inning. In the sixth, Zelenovich hit into a double play with runners on first and third and one out.

“We weren’t doing our job early in the game,” freshman Jacob Priday said.

Meanwhile, Matt Moffett was providing the Eagles (3-7) with offense. He hit a two-run single in the third inning to give Eastern Michigan a 4-0 lead and then hit a solo home run in the sixth to make it 5-0, all without Missouri getting a hit.

MU outfielder James Boone said at that point, the Tiger hitters might have started to worry.

“Maybe, when you’re down five, six runs,” he said, “you do try to do a little bit more, try to hit the ball a little harder and a little farther.”

For a while, that strategy worked. Priday, who had a home run in the day’s first game, broke up Dimich’s no-hitter with a solo home run with one out in the sixth.

An inning later, with the score 7-2, Boone came up with bases loaded to face Eagle reliever Jeff Fischer and hit the Tigers’ first grad slam of the season, cutting the lead to 7-6.

“I knew he was going to come right at me,” Boone said. “When he got behind in the count 2-1, I was sitting on fastball and he threw it, and I finally put a good swing on it.”

But Fischer struck out the side in the eighth and got two more in the ninth, including a punch-out of Boone with a man on second to end the game.

“We just waited too long,” Boone said. “If we had another inning, we’d probably win that game.”

The first game, by contrast, was no contest. Sophomore pitcher Nathan Culp gave up two infield singles that led to an Eastern Michigan run in the first inning, but the Eagles got only three more hits while Missouri poured it on.

Sophomore third baseman John McKee hit a two-run home run in the first to give the Tigers the lead, and Priday added a solo shot in the third. MU had a 12-1 lead by the end of the fifth inning and scored in each of the first seven innings.

The win made Culp 2-0 on the year. He pitched six innings and gave up a walk, four hits and two runs.

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