By Kevin Donnellan
The Missouri bench clears as Eric Anderson (44) calms down catcher Ben Turner after Turner blocked home plate for the out Friday in the 10-4 win against Charlotte.
A combination of a strong defensive display by Missouri and a series of errors from Charlotte contributed to a 10-4 series-opening win for the Tigers on Friday.
A defensive play by catcher Ben Turner in the third energized the team.
“I think that Turner blocking home plate was a huge momentum boost for us,” Jeff Emens said. The senior relief pitcher finished out the pitching after the fourth inning following an injury to Eric Anderson.
That home plate block came with Missouri leading by a solitary run. The play got a raucous response from the Tigers bench, fired up by the memory of a 22-7 loss at Charlotte last season. Emens acknowledged that the team isn’t short on motivation for this series.
“We don’t like to throw the word revenge around a lot, but we honestly thought we had something to prove after last year,” Emens said. “Coach didn’t mention it much but we knew, the returners knew.”
Infielder Conner Mach echoed that sentiment. “We had a little bit of added, I guess, aggression from last year. We went down to Charlotte and they whopped on us a little bit,” Mach said. “We definitely remember that, it’s something we’ve been talking about in practice all week.”
Coach Tim Jamieson avoided any mention of revenge, instead he discussed the influence of Ben Turner behind the plate.
“Ben has impact on so many different areas defensively,” Jamieson said. “You’ll see the impact he has on the pitching staff, sometimes you don’t see that but they pitch with a lot more confidence when Ben’s back there.”
The coach also acknowledged that errors from the opposition played a part in the win. Charlotte committed four costly errors in the contest, including two from Patrick Raley that cost the 49ers two big runs in the seventh inning. Jamieson applauded his offense for capitalizing on the plays.
“They (Charlotte) created some run score opportunities for us, but then we took advantage of it,” Jamieson said. “They could make errors and we could still not score runs, but there’s no question they helped us today.”
With two games to come Saturday and a fourth on Sunday, the aim for Missouri now is to keep the momentum going. “We want to definitely put it on them,” Mach said. “We’re definitely, not going to let off the gas pedal, we’re going to keep going.”
Missouri will continue its series with Charlotte in Columbia with a double header Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The final game in the series is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.