Ash pitches solidly in relief

The sophomore stopped the bleeding in a rough game for the Missouri pitching staff, pitching five innings and allowing no runs.

With a runner on first, two having already crossed the plate in the inning and ten runs on the board for LSU, it wasn’t an ideal situation for Konnor Ash. Despite entering the game in a jam, the sophomore right-hander didn’t overthink his approach.

“I was just doing my job,” Ash said. “Just go in there, get outs as fast as I can, keep us where we were, stuff like that. Just following my pitching plan that [pitching] coach [Fred] Corral has. Just do my job.”

Ash did his job, going five scoreless innings while allowing two hits and striking out five. Although Missouri ultimately lost 12-11 in ten innings, Ash’s performance was crucial in allowing Mizzou to battle back and tie the game after being down five runs in the fourth inning.

“[Ash] definitely showed a lot of character going five innings, even when we went down by five and had to still keep a close ballgame,” sophomore catcher Chad McDaniel said. “... Definitely also changed the momentum for us. Having five scoreless definitely decreases the confidence for the other team when the pitcher’s out there showing you can’t really hit him.” At five innings, it was Ash’s longest outing of the season. His previous high was three and one-third on March 13 against Arkansas State, but, like most aspects of the game out of his control, that didn’t phase Ash.

“That was the most I think I’ve thrown here, but I can do it,” he said. “ Arm is always feeling good, so I’m not too worried about that.”

The most trouble Ash ran into was in the fifth, his second inning of work. With two outs, junior shortstop Chris Cornelius booted a ground ball off the bat of LSU junior centerfielder Zach Watson. The next batter, senior right fielder Antoine Duplantis, singled to put runners on the corners. Ash got senior third baseman Chris Reid to ground out to Cornelius to end the inning. Ash pitched three more innings and retired nine of the last ten batters he faced.

“His stuff is just really good,” coach Steve Bieser said. “Whenever he’s on, he’s hard to hit. His velocity’s good. His breaking ball’s really tight and had late break to it, so that’s really what kept him going.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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