Missouri (17-21, 6-12 Southeastern Conference) fought ahead dramatically, but the final three innings proved disastrous in an extra-inning, 9-7 loss against Mississippi State (26-15, 10-8).
The Tigers held a four run lead going into the seventh, but senior righty Eric Anderson was unable to continue his excellent start, leaving the final three innings to his teammates in the bullpen.
They were unable to reach the finish.
“The bullpen is out there throwing their best stuff in there,” Anderson said. “It didn’t work out today. I can’t control that, and I know they’re doing everything out there for me, so it is what it is.”
Sophomore lefty Austin Tribby was the first victim. He retired two, but also allowed two men to reach. When sophomore righty Breckin Williams allowed a single to his first assignment, the lead shrunk.
Still up 7-4, though, the team had to feel confident with only two innings remaining.
Then Williams allowed another in the eighth. And suddenly the tying run was at first base with one out in the ninth.
A ground ball, struck hard at freshman third baseman Ryan Howard, had double-play potential, but the ball jumped high on a late bounce, deflecting off Howard and loading the bases.
The Rebels did not let the opportunity pass, knocking home the tying runs with a single from outfielder C.T. Bradford.
Senior catcher Dylan Kelly worked a walk in the bottom of the frame to present the potential of a walk-off victory. This may have actually hurt the team more than helped, as Kelly was removed for a pinch runner.
The inning ended in a double play, and Missouri was without one of their best bats and a senior leader.
This came into play twice in extra innings. In the 10th, an overthrow by freshman replacement catcher Jack Klages allowed a runner to reach third. Then, in the 11th with the team down two runs, Klages struck out with a man on base.
Howard was twice the hero in the game. He was instrumental in the four-run outburst in the fifth, doubling home two and scoring another. Then, in the deciding 11th, he momentarily saved the Tigers with a full-extension, diving stop, even popping to his feet and gunning down catcher Zach Randolph.
The next batter singled on a flare to right field, scoring the winning runs for Mississippi State.
Going forward, coach Tim Jamieson is encouraged, even without the victory.
“I told them I’m proud of them, and to keep fighting,” Jamieson said. “It’s tough to win, we’ve just gotta find ways to do it. Above all, there’s no way we can go back and do anything different, so we’ve gotta use it as fuel going forward.”
Missouri will next play Wichita State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.