Missouri baseball finds a way to win another, beats Chicago State 7-6 in 13 innings
Freshman Connor Brumfield was the hero for the Tigers, who won despite leaving 21 men on base.
Mar. 16, 2017
“It was really weird.”
That’s what sophomore centerfielder Connor Brumfield thought of Wednesday night’s game at Taylor Stadium between the No. 25 Missouri Tigers and the Chicago State Cougars, and there may not be a better way to describe it.
Despite leaving 21 men on base and committing seven errors, Missouri beat Chicago State 7-6 in 13 innings on Wednesday to improve the team’s nation-leading win streak to 16 and 16-1 overall on the season.
The 16-1 start is the best 17-game start in program history.
First-year head coach Steve Bieser said he was pretty disappointed in how his team played.
“I don’t know if I’ve been a part of a more poorly played game than what we did today because we did it on all fronts,” he said. “There were just a lot of things that we did wrong today.”
Defensively, Missouri struggled. The Tigers committed a season-high seven errors in Wednesday’s contest, including two from Brumfield, and gave the Cougars ample opportunities to score. Chicago State (3-10) finally broke through in the eighth inning, when Missouri junior Nolan Gromacki gave up a two-out hit up the middle that bounced off freshman shortstop Chris Cornelius’ glove for an error before careening into center field, where Brumfield picked the ball up and made a poor throw to third. The two-error play allowed two runs to score and tied the game at four.
The game remained tied until the eleventh, when redshirt junior closer Cole Bartlett, working in his third of four innings of work, served up a two-out, two-run home run to Cougars first baseman Rick Salazar, allowing the Cougars to take their first lead of the day. The Tigers responded, however, when with runners on first and second and two outs, Brumfield lined an 0-1 fastball into center field for a base hit. Center fielder Matt Paciello, who had made a sliding catch earlier in the contest, dove for the ball but this time was unable to come up with it, causing the ball to roll past him and allowing both Missouri runners to score.
Brumfield said he wasn’t necessarily looking to drive in his teammates in that situation and considered himself fortunate that Paciello laid out for the ball instead of just getting in front of it.
“I was just trying to get on base and extend the inning,” Brumfield said. “I needed a single because we had two outs. I got a pitch to get the barrel on and hit it up the middle in the perfect spot.”
Brumfield’s name was called again in another big spot for Missouri in the 13th inning, when the freshman came up with the bases loaded and no outs. He skied a ball down the left field line that the Chicago State left fielder dropped just as he reached the foul line for the team’s fifth error of the contest, allowing junior utilityman Matt Berler to scamper home. After a brief review, the game was called and the Tigers came out on the field for a subdued celebration.
Brumfield said his final swing was very much categorical of the game as a whole.
“It stayed in tune with the whole game,” he said. “It was a weird bloop [hit], but it got us the run we needed, so I’m happy. I don’t really have much to say about all that; I’m just glad we won.”
One bright spot for Missouri was another good start from junior Bryce Montes De Oca. The hard-throwing righthander made his second start of the season and career Wednesday, going five innings and allowing just one unearned run despite walking four. He also struck out six.
Missouri will start Southeastern Conference play on the road at Alabama this weekend. Bieser said his team will have to play considerably better to continue to win against more quality teams in the SEC but believes that his squad is up for the challenge and ready to make the most of the opportunity.
“We are excited,” he said. “It’s a chance to go out in the conference and show that we belong in the conference and can compete in the conference.”
Edited by Eli Lederman | firstname.lastname@example.org