Missouri made an innumerable amount of mistakes Sunday, coach Tim Jamieson said. Most of them you couldn’t count on the box score.
“Everything that happened in that game was mental,” he said. “It was just a little bit dialed in, a little bit more focused, we don’t make as many mistakes, we don’t give away as many at bats.”
“We’ll call it lack of focus,” senior catcher Dylan Kelly said.
In front of Kelly and behind the Tiger bullpen, Missouri (6-7) made six errors in a 2-1 loss to Southern Mississippi. A win would have given Mizzou its first series sweep the season. Instead, it settles for its first series win.
“We want that sweep. I think that’s why our clubhouse is a little disappointed right now, especially with the way we played,” starting pitcher and leadoff man Eric Anderson said. “It was sloppy baseball.”
Jamieson said his club just wasn’t aggressive enough to win its third straight game.
“Sometimes when you win two games in a row, you gotta have that killer instinct,” he said. “We didn’t come out with it today.”
At bat, the Tigers mustered four hits and stranded five runners. Two men were caught stealing — one in the bottom of the ninth — and another was picked off.
“The pick-off, that was a mental error,” lamented Jamieson. “He didn’t even react to it.”
They struck out four times, two of them looking, and were bested by Golden Eagle starter Cameron Gianni, who the Tigers faced on opening day.
“When we faced him before, he was up in the zone. He was behind in the count a lot,” Jamieson said. “Today, he had the count the whole time. He was down in the zone, mixed his pitches well. I thought he pitched really well.”
Then, Jamieson said, Gianni didn’t use his off-speed pitches as well. Saturday, his changeup was his out-pitch. In the seventh inning he used it to retire the middle of the Missouri order.
“Him mixing up that secondary pitch today was, I think, the back-breaker,” Kelly said. “He would flip it in there whenever he wanted to, and that was tough for our hitters, especially me.”
Gianni went for 7.2 strong innings and picked up his first win of the year, posting an impressive 66-percent strike ratio. Designated hitter Bradley Roney picked up a four-out save.
“We were kinda backwards today,” Anderson said. “Swinging a stuff we shouldn’t be swinging at, taking pitches that we should be swinging at. The adjustments came too late.”
Anderson became the first player for Jamieson to start the game on the mound and lead off the batting order. At the plate, he went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning single. On the mound he took one misstep, to Roney’s benefit.
A 3-1 fastball ran high on the inner half of the plate and Roney, hitting in the six-spot, smashed it into the Missouri bullpen for a home run. It was the only longball of the series and scored Dylan Burdeaux who singled two batters earlier.
“In my opinion, it got up in the jet stream up there and kinda sailed out,” said Anderson, who took his second loss of the season. “I mean, it still counts.”
It was all the offense Southern Miss would need.
“The one mistake he made ... I feel like it was a good, quality pitch,” Kelly said. “He just made us pay.”
Jamieson said his staff was looking to solidify a starting defense after the series as Southeastern Conference play is just five days away, but after six errors, he said, they’re back to “square one.”
The Tigers continue their homestand with a two-game series against Alcorn State on Tuesday and Wednesday. Conference foe Tennessee draws a three-game weekend series at Taylor Stadium starting Friday.
Sophomore Griffin Goodrich, one of seven pitchers used by Missouri on Saturday, is slated to start Tuesday.
He threw two scoreless and hitless innings and tallied a strikeout and a walk.