In its Wednesday afternoon matchup with Indiana State, the Missouri baseball team looked nothing like a squad that had run off 10 straight wins.
The Tigers looked nothing like the team that thumped North Dakota 21-5 and Nebraska-Omaha 14-4. They looked nothing like the team that received five votes in the most recent USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll.
They instead looked like a team that had almost as many errors (six) as hits (seven) and lost to the Sycamores by the resounding margin of 15-1.
“I think what happened is we responded poorly as the game went on,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “… I think they were ready to play, but one mistake led to another, which led to another."
Indiana State showed up in Columbia riding a hot streak of its own, having won 11 straight and hitting .339 as a team. The Tigers (12-7) did nothing to slow Indiana State's roll, allowing 18 hits and only managing seven themselves.
“(The pitchers) made mistakes, they hit them,” senior catcher Ben Turner said about the Sycamores’ offense. “That was about it.”
Freshman Brett Graves received the start, his third of the season. The Sycamores jumped on him immediately, notching singles from their first two hitters and a sacrifice fly to put them on second and third.
A subsequent single up the middle scored both runners, and a wild throw by Turner into center field allowed the batter to reach third. The play was a microcosm of Tigers’ day: hot Indiana State bats combined with incredibly sloppy defense.
Missouri’s errors came in all shapes and sizes, such as an easy ground ball that squirted through junior shortstop Eric Garcia’s legs, a bouncing ball that ricocheted off senior third baseman Conner Mach’s glove and a pair of throwing errors by freshman third baseman Case Munson.
“We’re worried about the last play, not the next one,” Jamieson said. “… Or we have an at-bat carry to the field or vice versa … that just can’t happen. You’ve got to be able to separate the two and put it behind you.”
Graves was removed after only 1.2 innings, opening the mound for a large chunk of Missouri’s bullpen. Other pitchers were unable to stop the scoring. Freshman John Miles gave up five runs in the fourth and redshirt freshman Ryan Yuengel allowed two in the sixth to expand the Tigers’ deficit.
The Tiger pitchers had almost as tough of a time avoiding the Sycamores' batters as they did the bats. Missouri plunked a whopping five hitters in the game.
The Tigers’ offense, whose strong production was a major part of their winning streak, was also stymied. Indiana State used even more pitchers than Missouri, but the Tiger bats couldn’t put together a significant rally against any of them. In fact, they didn’t manage a run until redshirt junior Andreas Plackis got an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
The Tigers will look to put this game behind them as they open Big 12 Conference play Friday against Oklahoma State.
“(A loss like this) keeps us grounded,” junior designated hitter Dane Opel said. “We won 10 games in a row. That’s great. Now we’ve lost two. It’s time to get back to those fundamentals that make us great, and I think we have the guys on the team that can do it.”