Missouri (20-26, 6-17 Southeastern Conference) lost its starter, the game and the series in a 5-1 defeat to Vanderbilt (35-12, 13-10 SEC).
Junior righty John Miles pitched a perfect two innings, but in warming up for the third he threw a ball to the backstop and did not regain his control. A bunt single by Commodore right fielder John Norwood led off the inning, followed by a stolen base.
After throwing wild again on the next pitch, the coaching staff and a trainer joined Miles on the mound. He threw three more warm up pitches, but was unable to regain his control and continue.
“He felt something in the second inning in his bicep,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “That was the first clue, and when [pitching coach] Matt [Hobbs] came out to the mound you could tell by the conversation that something was wrong. We’ll wait a couple of days and then see about a diagnosis.”
This left seven innings, plus a runner on third and a 2-0 count to pitch around for the bullpen, an intimidating prospect for a group who had struggled lately.
Sophomore reliever Peter Fairbanks, who threw the night before, answered the call. He tossed seven innings, struck out six, walked one and allowed only five hits.
The only warning he got was a gut feeling when Miles looked hurt.
“Hobbs just came in and said, “‘Pete, you’re in,’” Miles said. “But I mean, I kinda knew this was gonna be a long situation. Since I started in midweek, I figured this was going to be my spot.”
Not a single earned run scored on him, though in the third there were five runs scored. These were a result of poor defense and Fairbanks still getting warm.
He was unable to work back from the 2-0 count left for him, walking the first batter. Vanderbilt catcher Jason Delay came through next with a single to bring in Norwood, and just six pitches into his night, Fairbanks was already behind 1-0.
The next batter bunted. When the ball died in front of the plate, senior catcher Dylan Kelly attempted to throw the runner out at third. The ball jumped into left field instead, allowing another run and putting Delay at third.
Fairbanks rebounded, striking out the two-and-three-hole batters and bringing the crowd to its feet.
First baseman Zander Wiel put a swift end to the optimism, arcing a ball to the warning track in right center. Freshman center fielder Jake Ring took a meandering route to the ball, eventually falling over while trying to make a basket catch.
Both runners came in and the crowd of 1,846 let out a cry of disappointment heard to Faurot Field.
Wiel then scored on a balk, as the ball slipped from Fairbanks’ hand in his windup.
The five-run deficit hung much bleaker due to the Tigers’ lack of offense.
They managed only five hits on the game, and scavenged three strong opportunities to score. Two of those ended with runners being gunned down at home plate in the second and sixth innings.
Missouri’s sole run came in the ninth, when a single by sophomore shortstop Josh Lester drove in a runner who had advanced to second on an error.
The teams will close the series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.