March 1, 2008
Around the Bases
Deep pitching pulls No. 12
Missouri past California
By Chris Hadorn
Thanks to the effort of one of the deepest
pitching staffs in the country, the No. 12 Missouri Tigers held
off a late charge by the California Golden Bears to win 7-5
Friday afternoon at San Diego State’s Tony Gwynn Stadium.
“It felt we were losing the second half of the game,” Missouri
head coach Tim Jamieson said. “Fortunately we had a big enough
lead to begin with to hold on.”
Making their first appearance in the University of San Diego
Tournament, the Tigers (4-1) attracted a hoard of
big-league scouts who came to see ace starting pitcher Aaron
Crow (pictured left, photo by Chris Hadorn). Almost all of the scouting contingent left by the middle
innings to watch San Diego’s Brian Matusz on the other side of
town after Crow labored through the Golden Bears lineup.
Crow, the preseason All-American, had a rough go in the first
inning when he surrendered a two-run, opposite-field home run to
California slugger David Cooper, his fifth blast in five games.
Cooper worked the count to 3-1 and mashed a high fastball to
score designated hitter Rich Gorman. Cooper was 2 for 5 with
three strikeouts and is batting .444 (8 for 18) this season with
Fortunately for the Tigers, California did not counter with ace
Tyson Ross, who was scratched because of tightness in his
latissimus dorsi muscle. Sophomore southpaw Todd Fitzgerald was
thrown to the fire and was pulled in the first after
surrendering five runs on five hits and a walk. With the bases
loaded and one out, sophomore left fielder Aaron Senne ripped a
grand slam to right to get the Tigers on the board. The grand
slam was the first of the season for Senne, who finished 2 for 4
with five RBI.
With a 5-2 lead, Crow settled down a little bit, tossing three
consecutive scoreless innings and striking out 10 batters in
five frames. At times, he looked like of the best hurlers in the
country by overwhelming hitters with his filthy slider. But
California made him work and did a good job of hitting his
fastball. In the second inning, shortstop Michael Brady fouled
off nine Crow offerings in a 13-pitch at-bat that ultimately
ended up in a walk.
“I thought we did a good job of making him use his off-speed
pitch more than maybe he likes to,” Golden Bears head coach
David Esquer said.
In all, Crow allowed eight hits, two walks and three earned runs
in a five-inning outing and was credited with his second win.
“He’s got to be better than that,” Jamieson said. “He has
dynamite stuff, but he’s still making too many mistakes up in
the strike zone. He’s still trying to validate who is he as
opposed to going out there and pitching.”
Missouri stretched its lead to 7-2 after four innings. Senior
Jacob Priday smacked a RBI double to left-center in the second
inning, and Senne added a RBI single in the fourth.
California added a run off Crow in the top of the fifth when
center fielder Brett Jackson brought home Jeff Kobernus with a
line-drive single to right.
In the top of the sixth, the Bears loaded the bases against the
Missouri bullpen with one out. Things were looking bleak for
California after lefty reliever Kelly Fick struck out Cooper.
Senior Josh Satin carried Cooper’s slack by following with a
huge two-out, two-run single to cut the Tigers’ lead to 7-5.
“The good thing for our team, Josh Satin right behind him
[Cooper] got a base hit,” Esquer said. “We got to be able to
prove to him [Cooper] that he doesn’t have to shoulder the full
load. If he has a bad at-bat or so, we can pick him up.”
California would get two more opportunities to tie or win the
game, but Missouri’s bullpen slammed the door shut. In the top
of the eighth, the Golden Bears loaded the bases with one out.
Tigers reliever Ryan Allen entered the game and got Safin to hit
into a routine fielder’s choice. Jackson then worked the count
to 3-1 but hit a weak ground ball to second to end the inning.
Bears catcher Dylan Tonneson singled in the ninth to bring the
tying run to the plate, but Allen did a marvelous job of
changing speeds on his fastballs to strike out the side, earning
his first save of the season.
In addition to Senne’s heroics, sophomore catcher Trevor Coleman
went 2 for 4 with two runs, and Priday went 3 for 5 with a
double, run and RBI for the Tigers.