Missouri baseball turns aside in-state rival to complete season series sweep

With the 6-2 win at Taylor Stadium, Missouri improved to 9-0 in Tuesday games this season.
Redshirt junior pitcher Jordan Gubelman throws a right-handed pitch against the Kentucky Wildcats on April 5. Missouri lost the game 4-2, but won the series 2-1. Marco Storel

Jordan Gubelman wasn’t expecting Tuesday to be his first start of the 2019 season.

“I actually didn’t find out that I was starting until about 3 o’clock,” the senior right-handed pitcher said. “I don’t really get the opportunity to start too often, but it’s a good opportunity to get some quick work in.”

Gubelman usually sees action out of Missouri’s bullpen. But on Tuesday, with the pitching rotation shuffled due to a lingering injury to senior starter Tyler LaPlante, coach Steve Bieser found himself in need of an unconventional option to take on Missouri State at Taylor Stadium.

Gubelman rose to the occasion with a scoreless three-inning start, but the 6-2 win over the visiting Bears (13-27, 4-5 Missouri Valley Conference) highlighted the depth of Missouri’s (27-15-1, 7-10-1 SEC) entire pitching staff.

“It’s such a luxury to have so much confidence in a bullpen,” Bieser said. “The guys that typically throw on Tuesday don’t get much of an opportunity on the weekend… just seeing them having a lot of success is really good.”

Freshmen Tommy Springer and Trae Robertson and sophomores Trey Dillard and Konnor Ash combined with Gubelman to shut down Missouri State’s lineup to the tune of five hits, four walks and seven strikeouts. Robertson gave up both Bear runs with the game already all but decided in the ninth inning.

Gubelman explained how the Tiger staff was able to take advantage of Missouri State’s approach at the plate.

“They’re definitely early attack hitters,” Gubelman said. “If you make your pitch early and get them to swing and make some weak contact, that’s an easy way to get through.”

Missouri’s hitters, on the other hand, wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Senior Paul Gomez led off with a double in the first inning, and an errant throw on a base hit by junior Chris Cornelius advanced the runners to second and third.

Back-to-back groundouts by juniors Kameron Misner and Peter Zimmermann drove Gomez and Cornelius home to hand the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

The game quieted down until the sixth inning, when Misner hit a home run to right-center for his second RBI of the night. The hit came on a 1-0 count, which Misner said was a result of him trying to be more assertive at the plate.

“The past month or so, I’ve been hitting a lot of [two-strike pitches] and a lot when I’m behind in the count,” Misner said. “I want to be more aggressive and seeing what I can do earlier in the count.”

Later in the inning, with Zimmermann on second, Bears pitcher Davis Schwab intentionally walked sophomore Mark Vierling, bringing up freshman Cameron Swanger. The young first baseman did not take kindly to Schwab’s apparent preference to pitch to him.

“I looked at coach Bieser and he said, ‘Make it hurt’,” Swanger said. “So I had one job, and I wanted to hit the ball hard.”

Swanger promptly laced a double into right-center to bring home both Vierling and Zimmermann, extending the Tiger lead to 5-0 and putting the game out of reach for Missouri State.

The win handed Missouri a sweep of the two-game season series with their in-state rivals, the second straight season the Tigers have accomplished that feat.

“It definitely means we’re headed in the right direction,” Bieser said. “[Missouri State has been] a really solid program for many, many years, and I felt like last year and this year we put together four really good games.” Missouri will continue its homestand with an SEC series this weekend against South Carolina. First pitch for Friday’s series opener is set for 6:30 p.m. CDT at Taylor Stadium.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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