The Maneater

Lackluster conference campaign snubs Missouri baseball from NCAA Tournament

The Tigers’ season ends at 34-22 but it's their sixth straight without a Regional berth.

Maneater File Photo

Though coming perhaps closer than ever this season, Missouri baseball still can’t break down the wall to the postseason.

The Tigers will not travel to a Regional to compete in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. They were not announced among the field of 64 teams in the selection show that aired on ESPNU at 11 a.m. CST on Monday. Missouri (34-22) has now missed out on the tournament six straight seasons, including every year since joining the Southeastern Conference.

The Tigers were not among the first four teams to miss the tournament. Those spots were filled by Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky and Central Florida.

Steve Bieser’s club was widely considered to be on the bubble but on the outside looking in after a short-lived stint in this year’s SEC Tournament. After slipping into the conference tournament as the last team in on the last day of the regular season, the 12th-seeded Tigers failed to get past their first game. They blew a late lead to 5-seed South Carolina.

Missouri led that game 2-0 at one point, but having been 27-0 on the season when leading after six innings, the team proved there’s a first time for everything. The Gamecocks staged a late rally to win 4-2 and knock out Missouri. A win would have guaranteed a double elimination second round berth, meaning at least two more games to secure an NCAA-worthy resume.

Instead, the Tigers were left to rely on their No. 48 RPI ranking and SEC-bolstered strength of schedule despite finishing just 12-19 in the conference.

Tournament selection committee chair Ray Tanner said on ESPNU after the field was announced that sub-.500 conference records served as a detriment to other near-miss teams such as Kentucky. Missouri’s record was reinforced solely by its 22-3 nonconference slate.

That impressive mark included a season sweep across two games against in-state rival Missouri State, who made the tournament field. In conference, the Tigers also prevailed in series against tournament teams Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Auburn. But those notable moments were counteracted with inconsistency, including a series loss to SEC bottom-feeder Alabama.

The second-year coach Bieser missed the tournament in his debut season too with a record of 36-23.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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