Missouri baseball continues conference slump

Oklahoma State took two of three from the Tigers.
Freshman infielder Eric Garcia attempts to tag out OSU junior Nico Rosthenhausler on Saturday at Taylor Stadium. The Tigers lost the game 10-7, with the Cowboys posting a six-run fourth inning.

Missouri fell to 19-16 overall after this weekend's play and is 4-8 in the Big 12. The Tigers suffered 2-1 series defeats from Baylor and Oklahoma after they took their first conference series against Texas A&M.

Looking to bounce back from the successive losses, this week's matchup against Kansas became a must-win.

"We need to win every series," coach Tim Jamieson said. "That's always our approach. But now the hole gets deeper, and it makes it that much more difficult to climb out."

The common theme for the two losses to Oklahoma State was a failure to drive runners in. The Tigers left countless runners stranded as their 18 hits in the two losses yielded just 10 runs.

"It seems to be a trend for us right now," senior first baseman Aaron Senne said. "We don't have a problem getting guys on. We just don't bring them in lately."

It was a different story in game one of the series when Missouri scored nine runs on only eight hits. The win in the opener had the Tigers expecting a much needed series win, but the Cowboys had other plans.

"After Friday night, it looked like we were going to win the series and maybe even sweep," Senne said. "But they came out ready to play the past two days. They stepped up in the big moments when they needed to, and we didn't."

One such moment came in the ninth inning of the third contest with both the game and the series tied. Oklahoma State junior first baseman Dean Green roped a solo homer over the right field wall to break the 3-3 tie. The Tigers could not answer as freshman hurler Kevin Chambers shut down Missouri in its final at-bat to earn the win.

But there might have been a silver lining on the weekend as sophomore Ryan Gebhart played in his first game of the 2010 season after an injury had him sidelined. The designated hitter had a team-leading two hits in his first game back.

Also promising for Missouri was the discovery of a solid starting pitcher. Junior right-hander Brad Buehler was recently switched from the bullpen to starting jobs after the usual pitchers were struggling.

"Whenever you make the transition from being a reliever to a starter, it's something you have to get used to," Buehler said. "I haven't thrown 90 pitches since senior year of high school."

The adjustment hardly seemed to affect the Texas native as he threw for five innings and let up just one earned run Sunday. Jamieson was confident he has found a competent starter in Buehler.

"He competes," Jamieson said. "He wants the ball, and he'll keep us in the game. What he did was good enough for us to win if we do our things offensively."

Next up for the Tigers is a date with the Jayhawks at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The first pitch will be thrown at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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