Whether it was skiing the mountains or partying on the beaches, most of the students at Missouri vacated Columbia last week for spring break. But for Missouri baseball there was no break, as the team hosted the No. 2 team in the nation, Louisiana State, for a three-game series over the weekend.
The series started off with junior ace Rob Zastryzny delivering yet another impressive performance, pitching 7.2 innings and retiring seven batters. But a home run from LSU’s Mason Katz in the fourth and an error in the eighth inning gave the Fighting Tigers a 2-0 win.
Zastryzny may be winless in the Southeastern Conference and 1-5 overall, but he has never given up more than three runs in all three of his conference losses.
The Tigers’ defense, which held its own on Friday, was broken wide open in Saturday’s contest. LSU’s Christian Ibarra went yard in the second and fifth inning, Alex Bregman homered in the fourth and Katz tacked on three RBI’s to give LSU an 8-0 win. And for the second straight day Missouri was unable to find home plate, even though they had accumulated 15 hits through two games.
With one game left to upset a College World Series contender, Missouri finally found its footing on Sunday. After two innings the Tigers had jumped to a 5-1 lead thanks to junior catcher Dylan Kelly and sophomore designated hitter Jake both driving in runs with singles to left field. But LSU responded with five unanswered runs in the top of the third inning, capitalized by a three-run bomb from Katz.
Keaton Steele struck out seven batters through four innings but fell to 2-1 on the season.
Steele said that the key to the Tigers becoming successful was all about mentality.
“It’s mindset,” Steele said. “You come in here, you know you’re playing a top-notch team, and they travel well so it feels like an away game but you battle through it. It’s just stuff you have to fight through and just play.”
The Tigers are now 9-15 on the season and 2-7 in the SEC. Coach Tim Jamieson said after the last LSU loss that the team’s main goal hasn’t changed.
“At this point it’s just to fight and get into the tournament,” Jamieson said. “Hopefully we’ll be playing really well at the end of the season. And when that happens we’ll be playing just one game at a time. You can’t play one game while looking six or seven games down the road. Just go out there and try to win today, whatever day that is.”
On Tuesday the Tigers will travel to St. Louis to play in the Braggin’ Rights game against Illinois at Busch Stadium. Jamieson said that playing there could be the kick that the team needs.
“The timing is good after this weekend,” Jamieson said. “After games like these we were going to be searching for motivation but now that we’re playing at Busch Stadium we’ve got it.”