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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vandy completes sweep of Tigers

Missouri has lost nine straight SEC games, and is yet to win a conference series at home this season.

May 4, 2014

Cornelius Vanderbilt was not in the Navy.

The American railroad tycoon gave himself the nickname of “commodore,” and people followed his lead, addressing him with the title.

Another Vanderbilt – the institution that is named after Cornelius – got just what it wanted, too. With a 3-1 Sunday victory over Missouri (20-27, 6-18 Southeastern Conference), the No. 20 Commodores completed a sweep of Mizzou.

The loss marked the ninth straight SEC loss for the Tigers.

“We’re falling short,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’re playing competition that either, one, want it better than us or, two, are playing better than us.”

Missouri foiled the few opportunities it had to avoid such a fate, notably leaving the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

After Mizzou assistant coach Kerrick Jackson was ejected in the top of the fourth, Vanderbilt starter Tyler Ferguson walked three Missouri batters in the bottom of the frame to load the bases with two outs. Ferguson’s replacement, Adam Ravenelle, would walk the first batter he faced, senior left fielder Dillon Everett, scoring Mizzou’s first and only run.

There was opportunity for more offense when senior second baseman Shane Segovia came to the plate with the bases still loaded. After seeing four teammates walk in the inning, Segovia swung on the first pitch to fly out and end the inning.

“If you take one right down the middle, in that situation, and he puts it right in the gap, we’re not questioning that,” Jamieson said. “But the fact he makes an out – in his case, I didn’t see the pitch, but if it was a good pitch to hit I don’t have a problem swinging there.”

The two other opportunities Mizzou had with runners in scoring position – after doubles by Segovia and senior catcher Dylan Kelly in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively – ended with Missouri coming up empty.

Missouri didn’t have a single multi-hit inning.

“They mix it up pretty well and make it tough for all the hitters to hit,” Kelly said of the Commodores.

The lack of runs wasted a complete game performance by the Tigers’ typical closer, Keaton Steele – the first complete game of his career. Steele was thrusted into the starting pitching rotation after injuries to senior Eric Anderson and junior John Miles left Mizzou’s rotation depleted.

He scattered seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk, giving up three earned runs.

“Pitching is pitching,” Steele said. “Obviously, whatever time you go into the game is going to determine what you need to do. I just try to go out there and take it as much as I would closing – attack, attack, attack.”

Steele is the first Mizzou pitcher to throw a complete game and record a loss since junior Brett Graves did so last season against South Carolina.

Missouri will now travel to South Carolina for a weekend series with the No. 9 Gamecocks. They’ll then return to Columbia for their last home series of the season, against Arkansas.

Mizzou is still yet to win an SEC home series this season.

The Tigers currently have the worst SEC record of any team in the conference. The teams with the two worst conference records are kept out of the SEC Baseball Tournament.

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