Missouri recently opened a new complex for its baseball team, filled with lounges, a theater and batting cages. There’s even a giant map that points out the different schools in the Southeastern Conference.
But after dropping a 13-inning, 2-1 contest to Georgia (17-12-1, 4-5-1 SEC), another frustrating conference loss for the Tigers, the attitude Missouri (13-15, 3-7 SEC) has is beginning to become less fresh than the paint on the walls.
“I definitely heard at least ten f-bombs in there,” senior pitcher Keeton Steele said. “Breaking stuff in a new place, I don’t know how.”
For much of the game, the Tigers were moving along smoothly.
Missouri scored the games first run when senior designated hitter Eric Anderson walked and senior first baseman Kendall Keeton singled Anderson in from second base two batters later.
With the Tigers’ ace, junior righty Brett Graves, starting on the mound, it seemed like that might’ve been the only run the Tigers needed.
Graves went 7.1 innings, striking out a career high nine and walking just one. Though he gave up nine hits, Georgia never pieced them together for a rally.
Graves said that because most of Georgia’s hits came on the ground, his confidence never didn’t waver. He tried to keep the ball low in the zone. He threw 73 of 111 pitches for strikes.
“That’s what our pitching staff is founded on,” Graves said, “throwing strikes and throwing low in the zone. “
Georgia starter Ryan Lawlor was just as good. He went 7.2 innings, giving up seven hits and one run while striking out eight.
Graves was pulled in the top of the eighth after infielder Jess Posey singled up the middle to drive in Georgia’s first run.
Steele, traditionally the Tigers’ closer, came on in relief, but the game was far from over.
With the game tied 1-1, Mizzou loaded the bases in the bottom of the twelfth, and had two opportunities to walk off with a win. But the Tigers came up empty handed, as junior Logan Pearson struck out and Keeton grounded out to second base.
“You keep playing the game and miss on opportunities, something good can still happen and something bad can still happen,” said coach Tim Jamieson.
The bad happened for Mizzou in the next inning.
Daniel Nichols hit a ball to centerfield that Missouri freshman Jake Ring didn’t charge hard enough, and Nichols stretched a single into a double.
“He took advantage of a young pup out there at center field,” Jamieson said.
The next at-bat, a senior was at fault for Missouri.
Stephen Wrenn reached first base when Keeton was unable to catch the ball and record an out. As the baseball rolled into foul territory, Nichols came home to score.
“Freak play, freak accident,” Steele said of the Keeton’s error. “Unfortunately, we had ours in later innings, and it costs us.”
Mizzou went down in order in the bottom of the inning. Game over.
The Tigers’ focus now shifts to the second game of the series. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Taylor Stadium.
“We haven’t lost the series,” Jamieson said, “just lost the game.”