Tag Archives: Dane Opel

Baseball America ranks 8 SEC teams in preseason Top 25

By Erik Hall

Four Southeastern Conference baseball teams are in the top 10 of Baseball America’s Top 25 rankings, released Monday. Four more teams filled spots in the next 15 slots.

Missouri is unranked in the poll and are scheduled to face five of the eight ranked SEC teams this season.

The SEC teams are No. 7 South Carolina, No. 8 Mississippi State, No. 9 LSU, No. 10 Vanderbilt, No. 21 Alabama, No. 23 Florida, Read more of this post

Mizzou baseball struggles at Texas A&M, fighting to make SEC tourney

By John Guminski

The Missouri baseball team endured another tough weekend, dropping all three games to Texas A&M (25-22, 10-13 Southeastern Conference) in College Station, Texas.

The Tigers struggled at the plate, hitting .194 for the weekend and leaving 25 runners on base. They also committed six errors in the field, with four coming in the ninth inning of the Saturday game.

The sweep moved Missouri (15-28, 7-17) in the wrong direction if they hope to make the conference tournament. Missouri has six games remaining on its SEC schedule with three at Alabama and three at home against Kentucky.

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Strong pitching and defense pace Missouri State past Mizzou baseball team

Text by Zach Garcia

Photos by John Guminski

Pitcher Jace James (10) delivers a first-inning strike. James pitched three innings, and allowed two runs.

Pitcher Jace James (10) delivers a pitch in the first inning. James pitched three innings, and allowed two runs on April 24, 2013 at Taylor Stadium in Columbia.

Missouri left fielder Dane Opel hit a line drive in the first inning almost perfectly. Almost.

Opel drove the ball 399 feet to straightaway center field, but could’ve used an extra 12 inches. Missouri State center fielder Tate Matheny jumped and crashed into the outfield wall to make a highlight reel catch, just before Opel’s line drive was about to carom off the 400-foot indicator.

“All you can do is smile on that one,” Opel said. “He made a good play.”

That play set the tone for the Missouri Tigers (13-23), who fell to in-state foe Missouri State 4-2 at Taylor Stadium on Wednesday. Starting pitcher Matt Hall carried the visiting Bears (26-11), going seven innings, while allowing one run on three hits and striking out six batters.

Despite an initial eight innings of frustration at the plate, Missouri mustered a ninth inning rally that, much like Opel’s first inning swing, came up just short. The Tigers put together a one-out rally that scored one run and put two more runners in scoring position. But pinch hitter Jake Ivory’s check-swing strikeout and second baseman Kendall Keeton’s ground out to the shortstop cut the comeback two runs short. Missouri State closing pitcher Grant Gordon notched a shaky save in the process, but did strike out three batters in two innings of relief to seal the 4-2 win.

Missouri State turned a handful of good defensive plays, following Matheny’s first inning catch at the wall. In the bottom of the second inning, Missouri State second baseman Andy Cheray made a play on a ground ball up the middle, and then threw across his body to beat Missouri catcher Dylan Kelly at first base.

In the fifth inning, Missouri State’s third baseman Joey Hawkins dove to catch a line drive down the third base line and recovered to throw out Keeton running to first base. In the seventh inning, Hawkins grabbed a hard hit ball by the Tigers shortstop Dillon Everett just before it hit the infield dirt, and then threw Kelly out at first base for a double play.

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Opel homers twice, Mizzou baseball splits doubleheader with Arkansas State

By Zach Garcia

Missouri left fielder Dane Opel (left) is greeted by teammate Case Munson (right) after Opel homered in the bottom of the fourth of game two on Tuesday. The home run was Opel’s second of the day, who had four hits and batted in five runs over the course of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Arkansas State.

Missouri left fielder Dane Opel (left) is greeted by teammate Case Munson after Opel homered in the bottom of the fourth of the second game on Tuesday. The home run was Opel’s second of the day.

Entering its doubleheader with visiting Arkansas State on Tuesday, the Missouri baseball team had not hit a home run through its first 15 games of the season. On Tuesday, Dane Opel connected for two homers on his own.

Opel had a big day at the plate, going 4-6 with three runs scored and five runs batted in, as Missouri (7-10) split its doubleheader with Arkansas State (15-7).

The Tigers cruised to a 5-1 victory in game one, with four of those runs coming off the bat of Opel along with starting pitcher Jace James securing the win. James pitched six and 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run, while striking out a season-high eight batters.

During the second game, Missouri scored two runs in the seventh inning to tie the game. Arkansas State then scored seven unanswered runs in the top of the eighth inning. Four Missouri relief pitchers (two of which pitched in the first game) were called upon in the frame. All of the runs came with two out in the eighth inning, and pitcher John Miles (1 2/3 innings pitched, two hits and two unearned runs) was tagged with the loss for Missouri as Arkansas State salvaged a doubleheader split with a 10-3 Game 2 win.

Missouri resumes Southeastern Conference play this weekend, with a three-game series on the road against Tennessee (10-9) in Knoxville, Tenn. The Tigers are 0-6 away from Taylor Stadium this season, but haven’t played an away game since their Feb. 24 loss at Memphis.

Surprising win and surprising loss for Mizzou baseball and softball

Mizzou softball and baseball teams in unexpected post season spots

Missouri’s Jeff Emens (20) celebrates along with teammates after defeating Oklahoma 8-7 in the Big 12 conference championship game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Is it possible that Missouri sent its teams to the wrong cities?

In Columbia, the team that should have won — the nationally-ranked and favored Missouri softball team — lost two of three games to unranked LSU.

In Oklahoma City, the Missouri baseball team that struggled to a 10-14 finish in Big 12 conference play, won the conference championship game against Oklahoma.

Missouri players Carlie Rose (5) Alyssa Cousins (17) Rachel Hay (00) Princess Krebs (42) and Ashley Fleming (30) watch as the LSU Tigers celebrate their Super Regional win Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Columbia, Mo. LSU won two of three games in the series.

It’s all about timing. The Missouri women faced an LSU team on the rise and the Missouri men picked a good time to rise from the ranks of mediocre teams and show their potential. The scenario that seemed unlikely a week ago has the baseball team heading into the NCAA national tournament and the women’s season ending without a spot in the women’s World Series.

Big 12 championship baseball final

With Missouri just one strike away from winning its first Big 12 championship, there was no way coach Tim Jamieson could feel comfortable.

He had been this close before – painfully close – and the title slipped away both times. And this was his last chance, with the Tigers getting ready to start chasing Southeastern Conference crowns next season.

Even when it was over and Missouri had beaten Oklahoma 8-7 on Sunday, getting the final out when a runner was hit by a batted ball and then tagging out another at the plate just in case, he wasn’t sure if it was finally time to celebrate.

“I saw the out at the plate and then I looked up and I saw both umpires (holding up their fists), so at that point, I was a little bit worried about, ‘Did we do something?’ Because that’s how it goes here,” Jamieson said.

The Tigers had been within one strike of winning the Big 12 tournament in 2004 and last season, and Jamieson recalls looking over his shoulder both times to see officials with championship hats and T-shirts waiting to be passed out.

This time, he paced in the dugout when pinch-hitter Chase Simpson got two strikes on him and grabbed a bottle of water and sat down after the next two pitches were balls. He checked twice to see if there was anyone holding championship gear, and didn’t see anyone.

After 24 years of trying – six as an assistant coach and 18 as the head coach – he finally got to see his players celebrate with black-and-white caps and bright gold T-shirts stamped “Big 12 Champions.”

“We talked about it a lot over the summer, all the guys that went through it last year, just knowing that the seniors had one more chance and Coach J had one more chance to come down here and be able to get a ring and be able to come win a conference championship,” said catcher Ben Turner, who had two singles and two RBIs.

Sixth-seeded Mizzou dogpiled on the infield and dumped a cooler of water on Jamieson to celebrate its first baseball title since winning the Big Eight under Gene McArtor in 1980.

It’s also the third conference title for Missouri in its final Big 12 season — along with the men’s basketball and wrestling titles. The Tigers had previously won only four postseason conference titles since the Big 12 was formed in 1996.

“We haven’t had a lot of those at Missouri and we haven’t had any in baseball, so it meant a lot,” Jamieson said. “We’ve been so close — right there — and we finally got over the hump. It’s special in so many different ways because we struggled this year, we had a lot of ups and downs. But you knew it was there, and it came together at the right time.”

Dillon Everett also drove in two runs and Blake Brown scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning for Missouri (32-27). Dusty Rose got the win for the Tigers and Blake Holovach got the final two outs for his first save.

“I love coming here. I always have, and I’ll miss it. … I’ve got a lot of big-time memories, not just on the field,” Jamieson said. “It’s special to win the last one.”

Eric Garcia was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, hitting .500 with three RBI, five runs and four walks. Also named for All-Tournament team honors were Dane Opel, Blake Brown and Jeff Emens.

Women’s Super Regional final

After Friday night’s loss Missouri knew it had to play 14 innings of ball on Sunday in order to advance. They hadn’t anticipated playing 12 of those in one game.

It took nearly four hours for Missouri to win the first game on Sunday. Chelsea Thomas started the game, pitching for 11 innings in the 5-1 victory.

“She threw good. I’m proud of her. In all honesty she didn’t throw her best again, but as I told you all last night, even if she just threw average, she would give LSU all they wanted, and she did just that,” said coach Ehren Earleywine.

Thomas struck out eight, walked four and allowed an unearned run. Bailey Erwin came in to pitch in what would be the last inning.

Missouri and LSU put up runs in the third inning then, as predicted, the pitchers shut down both sides.

Nicole Hudson, Ashley Fleming, Jenna Marston and Kayla Kingsley scored on a series of hits and LSU errors in the 12th inning. Erwin faced three LSU batters and shut them down.

In the final game of the series Missouri’s offense petered out.Missouri got on the board first with a run in the third inning but LSU quickly answered with three runs. That was all the offense either team could muster.

“Obviously we didn’t hit the way we wanted to all season pretty much,” said Ashley Fleming, the team’s leading hitter.

“I mean we’ve had games where we’ve hit good but just consistently not what we are capable of. There’d be different times where somebody would be hitting better than usual, and then other times it would be somebody else, but we never really had a time where everything was clicking perfectly through line- up.”

Missouri finishes the season at 47-14, 17-7 in the Big 12. Fleming, a senior, leaves with a team-leading batting average of .365. Senior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann ends with a 12-5 record and 2.41 ERA.

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Mizzou baseball run-rules Kansas, heads to Big 12 championship game

By the Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Dane Opel doubled, tripled and drove in five runs to lead Missouri to a 12-2 rout of Kansas and earn a trip to the Big 12 tournament championship game for the second straight season.

In Saturday’s final Big 12 meeting between the border rivals, the Tigers (31-26) never trailed after getting an RBI single from Ben Turner and an RBI double from Michael McGraw in the bottom of the first. The game ended after eight innings because of the mercy rule.

Opel added a three-run double in the sixth and a two-run triple in the eighth. McGraw had three hits and three RBIs and Turner added three hits, three runs and two RBIs. Missouri will face fourth-seeded Oklahoma in the championship game Sunday. The winner of the championship receives an automatic spot at the College World Series.

Mizzou baseball walks to victory against Kansas State

Story by Kevin Donnellan
Photos by Gary Cotton

Crowd

Brannon Champagne celebrates in front of a full crowd after being walked in the bottom of the ninth inning. The crowd was the seventh largest in Missouri baseball history.

Missouri’s biggest home crowd of the season was rewarded with a 4-3 walk-off win on Saturday. The Tigers have won both games against Kansas State so far in the series.

The crowd of 2,049 fans, the seventh largest in Missouri Tigers baseball history, saw Kansas State establish a first inning lead that was not relinquished until the bottom of the ninth inning.

Missouri starting pitcher Blake Holovach gave up five hits and three runs before exiting the game after the fifth inning with a 3-0 deficit.

Runs from Eric Garcia and Andreas Plackis in the seventh closed the gap to one.

In the bottom of the ninth, Blake Brown started the rally with a single. He said the team felt confident a win could be secured going into the final inning.

“It wasn’t like we were out there just getting blown away at the plate,” Brown said. “We were putting the bat on the ball. We were improving with our approach as the innings went by, so really we were pretty positive.”

An error by Kansas State relief pitcher Nate Williams allowed Andreas Plackis to reach first base despite a failed sacrifice bunt attempt. Dane Opel’s single scored Brown and tied the game. Sal Belfonte then walked to load the bases.

Back to back Tigers struck out swinging with no outs to set the stage for a dramatic conclusion.

Brannon Champagne stepped to the plate with the crowd on their feet. The junior outfielder worked the count to 3-2, and on the final pitch of the game drew a walk-off walk.

“You want to hit, and you want to be aggressive,” he said. “I was able to draw the walk so I mean any way you can get the win is always nice.”

Coach Tim Jamieson was keen to point out the decisive factor in the result.

“As crazy as this may sound…the crowd helped win the game. You got a fresh pitcher on the mound, nervous. He had to step off because it was so loud,” Jamieson said. “So they deserve as much credit as our players for that last run.”

The win brings Missouri to 5-9 in the Big 12 Conference and 20-17 overall.

Jamieson stuck to a “one game at a time” mantra heading into Sunday’s series finale.

“It’s not so much the sweep. It’s just one more win in the win column. You’re 5-9 in the league. You’re trying to get closer to .500,” Jamieson said. “Every game you lose it’s two more games you got to win.”

Missouri will look to make it three for three against Kansas State on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.

Relief pitching key to Mizzou baseball wins over Charlotte

By Kevin Donnellan

Rob Zastryzny

Missouri won both of Saturday’s games against Charlotte to clinch a series win and extend its winning streak to six. Strong relief pitching from Jake Walsh was a decisive factor in the double header, earning saves in both games.

Even though they won 5-3 and 3-2, Saturday’s games were tougher for the Tigers. The Charlotte 49ers tightened up on defensive errors that had caused them to lose against MU on Friday.

“(Charlotte) played better defense today, although they had a couple of (errors),” coach Tim Jamieson said. “I think we played around the same.”

Sophomore Rob Zastryzny started on the mound for the opening game, giving up five hits over his six innings. By the time he retired, the Tigers had established a 4-2 lead. Freshman John Miles had a rocky performance before Jake Walsh came in to steady the ship. He repeated the trick in the second game, allowing no hits off eight pitches.

“When I go in, no ones going to score on me,” Walsh said. “That’s how I feel every time I go out. I just got to keep that going. I’d say my fast ball was pretty dominating, no ones going to hit that.”

The Tigers had some defensive issues earlier in the game, but Charlotte failed to capitalize on a couple of Missouri errors. The Tigers confidence grew throughout the game, and the team began to display some solid fielding. Brannon Champagne made a great defensive play with a diving catch of a fly ball hit by Justin Seagar.

Three familiar names anchored Missouri’s offense. In the first game senior Conner Mach scored two runs in the fourth and fifth while hits from both Dane Opel and Eric Garcia in the sixth and seventh respectively helped Missouri keep the 49ers at bay.

The second game didn’t come alive until Dane Opel scored his fourth home run of the season and second this week in the sixth inning. Missouri took a 3-2 lead, a lead that looked precarious as Charlotte loaded the bases in the seventh.

That was the cue for Dusty Ross to take the mound, replacing Blake Holovach, despite 58 strikes from 92-pitch performance. Jamieson felt it was the right time to pull him in.

“He pitched into the seventh inning; that’s as far as he’d been,” Jamieson said. “He looked to us like he was losing a little bit. So we went with the right hander (Ross).”

The move worked and Missouri held on to win the game.

“(There’s) a lot of energy … a lot more confidence on the bench,” said Holovach.

With the Big 12 opener less than two weeks away, Jamieson believes there is some more experimenting to do with the starting line up.

“We still have a couple of guys we need to get out there,” Jamieson said. “We still need to have as much depth as we can.”

Missouri will continue its home stand against Charlotte on Sunday. The game has been moved to 3 p.m., but Sunday’s weather forecast calls for rain.

Mizzou breezes past Nebraska-Omaha, 14-4

Story by Gary Cotton
Photo by Kevin Donnellan

Dane Opel’s leg was feeling pretty good Tuesday. He’s been trying some alternative medicine to help treat a chronic quad injury, but you couldn’t tell it by the power hitter’s two-run triple in the sixth, part of Missouri’s 14-4 rout of Nebraska-Omaha.

“I did some crazy acupuncture on it today,” Opel said. “It was pretty weird, but it feels good.”

Missouri fans might want Opel to make the needles a routine.

Freshman Brett Graves made his first start for Missouri Tuesday, pitching four scoreless innings.

Opel’s hit was his second big play of the game, which followed a first inning home run that put Missouri up by three. Missouri (5-5) never looked back as the offense adjusted to seven Nebraska-Omaha (2-10) pitchers. The Mavericks couldn’t slow the Tigers and gave up 14 hits.

“We hit well the first inning, then they really started pitching backwards,” Opel said. “Coach just told us to look at those counts, to look for breaking balls and fastball counts. We did a good job adjusting to that.”

Mavericks pitcher Josh Bullock’s two consecutive walks led to a three-run play when Missouri’s Connor Mach lobbed the ball into left field. Nebraska-Omaha outfielder Caleb Palensky tried to catch the ball, but a gust of wind carried the ball just out of his reach.

Coach Tim Jamieson tossed in some fresh faces on the mound after solid pitching from starter Brett Graves, a freshman and a St. Louis Cardinals MLB draft pick. He gave up four hits in a rocky first inning before striking out Beau Suponchick to end the inning.

“I had a little nerves going the first inning,” Graves said. “I was pretty pumped up the first start. After I got out of it, the team really fed off of it.”

Jamieson said the team’s decisive offensive play during the past few games has given the young bullpen a chance to gain some experience.

“That’s the way you’re supposed to do it; get those guys a chance to play,” Jamieson said. “You hope every game turns out that way. We’ve been fortunate the last three games to be able to do that.”

Jamieson said freshman Brandon Platts will get a start this weekend against the Charlotte 49ers. Missouri’s fiery offence might relieve Platts of some pressure when he faces Charlotte. Opel said the team is looking to avenge its 3-1 series loss against the 49ers last year.

“Coach is getting us all excited for it,” Opel said. “They put it to us last year, and we’re looking to return the favor.”

Missouri starts its home stand against Charlotte Friday at 6 p.m. The series continues with two games on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Mizzou will use 19-game homestand to build confidence

By Gary Cotton

Missouri baseball batting

Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson, center, watches as Michael McGraw takes batting practice Thursday, March 1, 2012 at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo. Waiting his turn to bat is Gavin Stark.

One word — aggressive.

That’s the word coaches and players repeatedly used after Thursday’s practice. After getting swept in the series with San Francisco last weekend, being aggressive has been the team’s main focus.

The losses in San Francisco weren’t completely surprising for coach Tim Jamieson. The team had inconsistent hitting against Auburn making their first winning series too close for Jamieson’s comfort.

According to Jamieson, early season jitters were only partly to blame for the team’s hitting woes. He gave a lot of credit to a Dons pitching performance that stifled the Tigers, holding them to just two runs and 14 hits in the three game series.

“I thought we competed, but as the weekend went on you could see our confidence start to slip away,” Jamieson said.

Junior outfielder Dane Opel agreed, saying the team might have bought into the hype about some of the Dons’ talent. Opel was named Big 12 Player of the Week after the Auburn series after recording six hits and two runs in the series. He then cooled against San Francisco, getting just one hit in the three game series.

Senior infielder Conner Mach said Missouri hitters waited on ideal pitches that never came.

“We were swinging it well up until that weekend, (which is why it was) a shocker to us,” Mach said. “We were being really tentative that weekend, just taking a lot of pitches that we should have been hitting…especially in the scoring position.”

Jamieson and Opel also dropped that 10-letter word. They cited a lack of aggressive play at the plate that led to a Tigers offensive collapse. According to Jamieson, success against Ball State this weekend will depend on some solid hitting from some specific players.

“Connor, Blake, and Eric Garcia…if these guys don’t hit then we won’t be able to score runs,” Jamieson said. “It’s something we have to fix now, we know that they’re capable.”

History is on the Tiger’s side against the Cardinals. They defeated Ball State 3-1 last season, sporting one 18-4 win. Mach was key in the Tiger’s success last year, hitting .538, scoring five runs and six RBIs. Although he’s had success in the past, Mach said this year’s match-up could easily go the other way.

“It’s kind of how you’re feeling at the moment,” Mach said. “Games early in the season are really important for confidence.”

Opel said the Tiger’s 19 game home stand will mean a much needed confidence boost for the team.

“It’s huge for us,” Opel said. “You have the fans on your side, you know the field, you know how it plays, you’re more comfortable.”

The Tigers will start their three game series with Ball State tonight at 6 p.m. They’ll play the Cardinals again at 2 p.m. Saturday and end the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

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