Missouri baseball eliminated from SEC Tournament with loss to South Carolina Gamecocks

The loss likely ends the Tigers’ 2017 season.

Maneater File Photo

After a 10-2 loss to the No. 11 seed South Carolina Gamecocks in the third round of the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, it appears there will be no magical postseason run for No. 10 Missouri baseball.

Thursday’s loss eliminated the Tigers from the SEC Tournament and, in all likelihood, from NCAA regional contention as well.

Despite pitching in Tuesday’s game, Cole Bartlett started the game for Missouri, looking to replicate his last start against Tennessee, a complete-game one-hitter that warranted national attention. Unfortunately for him, Thursday’s outing went in a much different direction.

The junior allowed five earned runs over 4.2 innings pitched in an uninspiring day on the mound. Bartlett simply couldn’t replicate the fastball location and bite to his breaking ball that he found in his last start, and the results showed.

Offensively, the Missouri batters couldn’t catch a break off South Carolina starter Wil Crowe, who dominated the Tigers in a prior meeting on May 12. Mizzou narrowly missed tying the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, as an Alex Samples fly ball landed just short of a home run on top of the wall and was fielded in time to allow only one run to score.

Junior Bryce Montes De Oca, who has been a fixture in the starting rotation this season, came on in relief of Bartlett but couldn’t stop the bleeding. The Gamecocks would tack on four runs off Montes De Oca, stretching their lead to nine runs.

Bartlett’s performance wasn’t the only uninspiring part of Missouri’s day. Defensively, the Tigers were sloppy. A dropped infield fly helped aid South Carolina’s cause in a three-run fifth inning that helped further separate the Gamecocks.

Moving forward

The official NCAA Regional championships bracket will be announced Monday, May 29, but Tiger fans shouldn’t expect Missouri to be included in the field of 64 teams.

In its most recent projection, D1Baseball.com did not project Missouri to play in a regional. No one can predict the selections with complete accuracy, but losses on Wednesday and Thursday certainly did not help the Tigers’ case.

If Thursday’s game was in fact the end of the 2017 season, there’s plenty to be optimistic about. Missouri finished the season with a 36-23 record, improving a full 10 wins from the season prior under first-year head coach Steve Bieser.

Senior outfielder Kirby McGuire is the only player the Tigers lose to graduation. The MLB draft is a wild card, but Tanner Houck and Bryce Montes De Oca are the only two players who have consistently been projected high in mock drafts.

Led by rising stars such as Brett Bond, Trey Harris and TJ Sikkema, Missouri baseball will look to learn from the 2017 campaign as they move towards contention and ultimately put out an exciting product for Tiger fans in 2018.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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