Joplin Little League, MU Coaches are true Winners in Final Joplin Relief Game

The Missouri baseball team takes on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first of two Joplin Relief games.

Sunday, Oct. 9 –

The Missouri Tigers baseball team finished off the Joplin relief series versus Iowa on Sunday with a 3-3 tie.

However, on a beautiful fall day, the score wasn’t the most important thing about the game. The two game series, which will cost the Tigers to lose two games off of their spring schedule because of NCAA rules, was set up as a fundraiser to raise money for Joplin Little League baseball.

With ticket prices at five dollars, concessions, raffle tickets and auction items for sale, nearly $12,500 was raised to help repair little league fields and get the league going again. When a tornado hit Joplin last spring and left many families without homes, baseball was the last thing on everyone’s mind. Now a weekend of baseball will help things seem like they are back to normal.

The series was a fantastic family event with games for the kids between every inning, including hula hooping, a race around the bases and a three-legged race. Raffle items were given away late in the game. Some of the items up for raffle included Tigers baseball gear, signed baseballs, signed jerseys and a signed bat.

However, the fun didn’t stop when the game ended. Kids were invited to run around the bases and players signed autographs to finish off a great weekend of baseball.

The game also served as a great test for the coaching staff as the coaches were able to see a lot of the younger players play in a real game atmosphere for the first time this fall. With it being only their third and final exhibition game of the fall season, the coaches had no problem using a lot of pitchers and position players.

The Tigers used seven pitchers in the game, including four freshmen. The coaches getting the chance to see how these young pitchers do in game situations will be able to help them decide how they plan to use them during the season.

While the Tigers were down through five and a half innings 2-0, they chipped away at the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth off of outfielder Sal Belfontes’s sacrifice fly. Brannon Champagne brought the Tigers back into the game with a bases loaded two RBI single in the seventh to tie it up at 3-3.

With stellar pitching from freshmen John Miles and Brett Graves in the eighth and ninth, and fantastic defensive plays from shortstop Eric Garcia and second basemen Nick Moore, the Tigers finished off the game still tied at three.

Even though the game ended in a tie, no one seemed to care too much. The score wasn’t the most important thing about the game. Everyone in attendance seemed to be having a blast and with all the money being raised for Joplin, ending in a tie wasn’t a big deal. The Tigers walk away from the weekend with a win and a tie and surely more knowledge on some of their new players.

– Walt Scher
23 Sports
Staff Writer