The Maneater

Dominant start from Tyler LaPlante leads Missouri to ninth straight win

The junior left-hander threw a two-run complete game to help Missouri pick up a 9-4 win over the Wichita State Shockers.

Outfielder Kameron Misner is welcomed into the Missouri dugout after scoring off a home run in the fifth inning against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on March 4, 2018. Misner scored three runs Tuesday against Wichita State.

Missouri baseball is streaking again, but the team isn’t talking about it. Not yet.

“It hasn’t been said around the clubhouse at all,” junior third baseman Brian Sharp said. “We just need to take it one game at a time and keep moving forward.”

On a cold, windy Tuesday night in Columbia, the Tigers rode strong pitching and patience at the plate to a 9-3 victory over the Wichita State Shockers in front of 510 fans, extending the team’s win streak to nine. The streak is the team’s longest of the season, but nowhere close to the 20 in a row the team rattled off a year ago.

Missouri (14-3, No. 24 according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper) continued its winning ways by doing what it’s done best so far this season: staying patient at the plate. The Tigers walked seven times and were hit four times, but no inning showed the Tigers’ patience at the plate more than the first, when the team walked four times and scored twice despite recording just one hit in the frame.

The inning ran Shockers starter Preston Snavely’s pitch count up, forcing the Shockers to go to their bullpen earlier than they wanted to in the third inning. Snavely threw 2.2 innings, surrendering three earned runs, two hits, four walks and a hit batsman while throwing 59 pitches, 28 for strikes.

Despite scoring nine runs, Missouri struggled to drive in runners on Tuesday. The Tigers recorded nine hits but left 10 runners on base, struggling to get the big hit to put the game out of reach until late in the contest. Missouri’s runs came on two walks, two errors, a wild pitch, two RBI singles from hot-hitting Sharp and an RBI double from sophomore shortstop Chris Cornelius.

Head coach Steve Bieser said he was not concerned about Missouri leaving lots of runners on base going forward.

“The thing about it is we scored nine runs and left 10 guys on base, so we had 19 guys on base,” Bieser said. “If we can continue to put 19 guys on base, we’re gonna to be pretty good.”

As has been the case over the course of its win streak, Missouri was the beneficiary of another strong performance on the mound from its starting pitcher. This time, junior Tyler LaPlante was the Tigers hurler who pitched well for his squad. The left-hander, who was making just his second career appearance after transferring from Johnson County Community College, dominated.

He pounded the strike zone with his fastball and used his breaking ball and changeup to keep Shockers hitters off balance. LaPlante threw eight innings to pick up the win, allowing two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go with five strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches, 67 percent for strikes.

Right-hander Cameron Dulle entered a 9-1 game to relieve LaPlante but proved to be ineffective. He surrendered two hits, three walks and two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. After his third walk, Dulle was relieved by Nile Ball, who hit the first batter he saw before settling down to get a strikeout to work out of a bases loaded jam and lock down the win.

Bieser said getting such a solid effort from his Tuesday night starter was consistent with the effort LaPlante has given all season long.

“[LaPlante] is a crafty lefty that keeps hitters off stride, and he stays within himself,“ Bieser said. “That’s what’s really special about him. He pitches the game according to his strengths.”

Next up for Missouri will be the start of Southeastern Conference play, as the Tigers will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take on the No. 19 LSU Tigers this weekend in a three-game series. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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