It was a pitching showcase Saturday night.
The No. 8 Missouri Tigers (24-5) lost 4-1 in extra innings to the Arkansas Razorbacks (27-16) on Saturday at University Field to even out the series. The two teams were in a scoreless drought up to the seventh inning, when each team scored one run. This 1-1 tie extended into the top of the 11th inning, where the Razorbacks broke it open and scored three runs.
The dueling pitchers were the Tigers’ redshirt senior pitcher Chelsea Thomas and Arkansas pitcher Kimmy Beasley. Both of them struck out the side in the game: Thomas in the top of the third inning, and Beasley in the bottom of the second.
“She was probably the first pitcher that has a true rise that we faced in a long time,” senior catcher Jenna Marston said about Beasley. “So we were getting on underneath everything and popping it up a lot more that we should’ve. (We) didn’t have many hard-hit ground balls and that’s what you got to try to do against (a) rise ball pitcher. I think she pitched well and we didn’t execute our game plan.”
The scoreless game was broken by a run scored by the Razorbacks in the top of the seventh, when Clarisa Navarro scored due to a fielding error on second basemen Sierra Bronkey’s bunt.
The Tigers tied up the game with sophomore first baseman Kelsea Roth’s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, her twelfth of the season. After Roth’s home run, the Tigers couldn’t score to secure a win, which led to extra innings.
In the top of the eleventh, the Razorbacks scored three runs. Razorbacks third base man Chloe Oprzedek singled, and due to a fielding error by the Tigers, brought in centerfielder Stephanie Canfield and first baseman Devon Wallace while allowing Oprzedek to advance to third. Then, Navarro hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Oprzedek to score.
Thomas pitched the whole 11 innings, allowing seven hits and one earned run, with 10 strikeouts. Beasley also pitched 11 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run.
“You can’t let it get to you,” Thomas said. “I been around this game long enough to know stuff like that is going to happen and some days it’s not your day, and it wasn’t our day today.”
Coach Ehren Earleywine said the hitters were unable to get a handle on Beasley’s slow and hard pitches.
“We try to hit everything and we were good at nothing, “he said. “When a pitcher’s doing that you have to pick one of those two speeds, hit on it, and when you get it, do something with it, and I felt like we were double-minded the whole game.”
Earleywine had positive words about Thomas and he said he felt like he was impressed with Thomas’ outing, especially having pitched yesterday.
“Today was probably her best game in a while just in terms of control and pitch count,” Earleywine said.
The rubber match of the series will be played at 2 p.m. Sunday at University Field.