Led by three home runs, Missouri baseball found its swing

The Tigers scored 12 runs in the first four innings against the Racers.

In Missouri baseball’s second at-bat of the game, junior Kameron Misner launched a ball over the “We knock it out of the park” sign on the left field wall at Taylor Stadium for a home run. His solo shot was followed by a two-run double with bases loaded from sophomore Mark Vierling.

Leading 3-0 after one inning, the Tigers wouldn’t give up their lead the rest of the game.

It would take five innings for the Murray State pitching staff to put up a zero on the scoreboard at Taylor Stadium March 20 as Missouri (13-8) regained its power stroke, beating the Racers 13-1. The team had scored six runs in the previous four games.

In his second start of the season, freshman Luke Mann gave up an unearned run in the top of the second inning, but Missouri’s two-run lead was quickly extended.

His team picked him up in the bottom half of the frame by putting up another three runs, this time coming on a two-run home run from junior Peter Zimmermann and a RBI single from sophomore Chad McDaniel.

Freshman Josh Holt Jr. joined the home-run club in the next inning with a three-run home run into the right field corner. Holt Jr. said after the game that he was sitting fastball and was able to turn on it.

“It felt great,” he said. “I kind of knew I got it when it left the bat. I knew the wind would take it a little bit, too.”

In the fourth inning, freshman Cameron Swanger hit a sacrifice fly to score McDaniel, who had walked and moved up to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Later in the inning, sophomore Alex Peterson reached on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice that scored a run. Misner singled in the third run of the inning.

“We have guys that have some power; it’s hard to produce home runs in SEC play, though,” coach Steve Bieser said. “To rely on the home run is a tough thing for us to do in this ballpark.”

On the scoreboard, Missouri’s three home runs accounted for just under half of the team’s runs in the game. In each of the at-bats, Holt Jr., Zimmermann and Misner were all hitting with different approaches.

Holt Jr.’s first career home run in the black and gold wasn’t intentional. As a speedy batter in the leadoff spot, he wasn’t looking to hit the ball over the fence.

“I typically have the mindset of staying up the middle and homers come by accident,” Holt Jr. said. “I just got lucky and barreled one up.”

Unlike Holt Jr., Zimmermann said he was looking to drive the ball over fielders’ heads. His home run was also his third in three games. While Zimmermann has said he’s at MU to hit the ball far, it isn’t just about getting in the batter’s box and swinging with all his might.

“It’s controlled aggression,” Zimmermann said. “I know how hard I can swing under control and not be wild with it.”

As for Misner, who leads the team in home runs with six, his home run signaled the end of a tough handful of games in which he hit 0-for-16. Hitting the ball well in his first at-bat opened the door for the Tigers’ center fielder, who finished the game 3-for-5 with a fielder’s choice.

Over the last week, Misner had been working in the batting cage on away pitches, trying to keep his shoulder in and go with the pitch and hitting it to the opposite field. His three hits Wednesday were all to left field or up the middle.

“It checked out,” Misner said about his cage work.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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