After being swept by No. 2 Louisiana State last week, Missouri baseball was happy to see that its next game was going to be a change of pace.
“The timing is good after this weekend,” coach Tim Jamieson said after Missouri’s 6-5 loss on Sunday. “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.”
The team made a two-hour road trip to St. Louis on Tuesday to play in Busch Stadium against Illinois in the annual Braggin’ Rights game.
The Tigers had history on their side. They had never lost in Busch Stadium (3-0 all-time) and had beaten the Fighting Illini in their last six meetings. But the past wouldn’t be any help as the Tigers fell 6-2, losing their fourth straight game.
Offensively, the Tigers looked like they were going to capture the lead in the bottom of the first. Junior catcher Dylan Kelly was walked and a pitch beaned sophomore left fielder Jake Ivory, but both were left stranded after junior Keaton Steele flied out to right field.
Three innings later and the Illini became the first team to get on the board. At the top of the fourth, center fielder Jordan Parr was walked, then stole second base. Then in an attempt to steal third, there was an error by Missouri at third base, allowing Parr to give Illinois a 1-0 lead. Missouri would respond in its next at-bat when Ivory hit a double to left field and was driven home thanks to a single from freshman first baseman Josh Lester.
At the top of the sixth inning, the Illini found their offensive groove when their first three batters made contact with the ball, highlighted by a triple from first baseman David Kerian to give Illinois a 3-1 lead and force coach Tim Jamieson to make a pitching change. Sophomore Jace James was given the loss after pitching five innings, giving up four runs and seven hits while only striking out three batters.
Freshman Breckin Williams was able to get the Tigers out of the nightmarish sixth inning, but not before allowing Kerian to score on a fly out RBI from the next batter.
Illinois would score again in the seventh and ninth inning, improving the lead to six runs. Missouri wouldn’t be able to answer until the bottom of the ninth when senior pinch hitter Brannon Champagne scored off of a second base error, but it would be the team’s only run to end the game.
This weekend, Missouri returns to action in the Southeastern Conference for a three-game series against Georgia in Athens, Ga. On Friday, junior Rob Zastryzny (1-5) will attempt to get his first conference win while the team overall will try to improve on its 2-7 conference record. Luckily for the Tigers, Georgia is in even worse shape with a 1-8 conference record and 11-19 record overall.