Missouri baseball traveled to play Alabama over the weekend for its first SEC competition of the 2017 season. The Tigers swept the three-game series from the Crimson Tide to extend their winning streak to 19 games, tying a program record.
Missouri didn’t need much offense in the SEC opener Friday night, as they rolled to victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide 3-0. Tigers ace Tanner Houck was electric, pitching seven innings and allowing just one hit while striking out nine batters.
Houck held the Crimson Tide hitless through five innings. He also pitched around two jams, responding to a pair of runners in scoring position situations with strikeouts in the first and seventh innings, respectively.
Out of the bullpen, freshman T.J. Sikkema proved to be reliable once again, pitching two solid innings and allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five. He extended his scoreless inning streak to 23.2 innings.
Houck and Sikkema combined for the Tigers’ first shutout in SEC play since a 6-0 blanking of Georgia on March 15, 2015.
On the offensive side, things were less electric. The Tigers left 13 runners on base, something that head coach Steve Bieser took a positive approach on.
“We did a great job of creating base runners; we didn't do a good job of getting the big hit,” Bieser said. “Those big hits sometimes can be very elusive and they kept sneaking away from us. We did a good job of putting pressure on the other team all night. Made them throw a lot of pitches. I thought the approach was good, we just have to relax in RBI situations and come up with a big hit."
Missouri clinched the series with a 7-4 victory on Saturday.
Sophomore outfielder Connor Brumfield recorded a career-high five hits to lead the Tigers offense, which produced 12 hits and drew eight walks total.
Junior left-handed pitcher Michael Plassmeyer picked up his fourth win of the season. Mizzou has now won each of his five starts.
Sophomore Ian Nelson entered the game at third base as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning. He would go on to make three incredible plays, shoring up the Tiger defense, which had been a major issue for the team in spite of the Tigers early success in the win column.
“I thought we did a good job on all three fronts, from pitching to defense to offense. Proud of the way that they came out relaxed today and responded," Bieser said.
Missouri extended its win streak to 19 games with a 9-5 victory over Alabama in the series finale on Sunday. Junior Andy Toelken got the start for Missouri.
After Missouri jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Alabama fought back to tie the game on three separate occasions. But the Tigers pulled away in the later innings, thanks to strong offensive performances from Brumfield and junior Robbie Glendinning.
Bieser was impressed by his team’s persistence. “Nothing was easy today, and we had to work for everything that we got. They stayed engaged well — they understand that imposing your will and staying locked in and focused — if you can do that and be engaged for more pitches, then you will have an opportunity to get yourself a win. I am really proud of these guys.”
The 19-game streak now ties the school record for consecutive wins, which was set by the 1964 team.
MVP of the Series
Connor Brumfield: The junior outfielder has settled into his role as the leadoff hitter for the Tigers. He recorded eight hits in 15 plate appearances in the series, driving in a total of eight runs. On the season, he is batting .320 with 17 RBI.
The Tigers will welcome Arkansas-Little Rock to Taylor Stadium for a single game on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sophomore Bryce Montes De Oca is scheduled to start for the Tigers.
Edited by Eli Lederman | firstname.lastname@example.org