Bieser, MU players content with ugly win

Small ball and capitalizing on mistakes were part of the plan in the Tigers’ win over South Carolina.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the third inning, Missouri needed a key hit to tie the game against South Carolina. The Gamecocks were up 2-1 after junior Peter Zimmermann’s bloop into centerfield brought home Missouri’s first run. With sophomore catcher Chad McDaniel at the plate, the Tigers didn’t get that big hit, but the run came home regardless. As junior Gamecock pitcher Reid Morgan came set, Zimmermann broke from first base, surprising Morgan and causing him to flinch before stepping off the rubber. A balk was called, and junior shortstop Chris Cornelius came home.

It was the first of multiple times the Missouri offense took advantage of one of South Carolina’s gaffes to put runs on the board in its 5-2 victory.

“Winning’s winning, no matter how you do it,” Zimmermann said. “It’s the SEC. It’s a grind. The teams are good. I don’t care if their record is 5-13. They’re still a good baseball team. You got to win the way you win, and we just played our brand of baseball. Maybe it’s ugly, but we got the job done.”

The next time Missouri scored, it was once again because of South Carolina’s inability to execute fundamentals. After McDaniel led off the sixth with a double down the right field line, sophomore second baseman Mark Vierling bunted. As Reid came off the mound to field the ball, senior third baseman Jacob Olson barrelled into him and knocked him over. Vierling was safe at first and McDaniel advanced to third. Two batters later, the catcher scored on a wild pitch.

In the eighth, senior third baseman Paul Gomez reached on an error by Olson and ultimately came around to score. None of MU’s runs came in a way anyone would draw up, but to coach Steve Bieser, that’s what this team’s identity is built upon.

“The big thing there is why are they making mistakes? And the fact that our guys were able to execute a running gameplan, and they’re trying to figure out what’s going on,” Bieser said. “We had probably four other stolen bases where we had one strike on us, and our hitter fouls a ball off. We can’t ask him to take at that point, but I think they were very alarmed by that and that kind of took them out of their game tonight.”

In total, Missouri had 11 hits on the night, only four more than South Carolina’s seven. MU was much more effective at turning those hits into runs because of how the team outplayed USC in less noticeable areas. South Carolina committed two errors and two balks while Missouri had zeroes in both categories. The Tigers also stole five bases compared to the Gamecocks’ two. On a day when the bats weren’t producing, Missouri still found a way to win.

“We learned how to battle adversity and how to battle back,” Zimmermann said. “Coach [Bieser] always talks about ‘stay the course.’ He really talks before the game ‘stay the course. Adversity can hit.’ And that’s all we did tonight.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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