Missouri beats Alabama A&M, gets back above .500

Starting pitcher Trae Robertson only lasted two innings, but the Tiger offense put up 13 runs to down the Bulldogs.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

The conditions weren’t ideal – a breezy 53 degrees at the start of the game and dropping throughout the night. The game itself wasn’t pretty, featuring 17 walks, a hit by pitch and three errors, but Missouri (5-4) baseball found a way to win their home opener and move above .500 in a 13-5 victory over Alabama A&M (0-9).

“It was a difficult game, just for many reasons,” Mizzou coach Steve Bieser said. “We came off nice weather, playing many games in a short amount of time, and a day off yesterday and then to try to turn around and kick it in. I thought we struggled through most of the game, but we did take advantage of the opportunities the other team gave us, and that’s what you have to do.”

Freshman Trae Robertson took the mound for Mizzou. After a 1-2-3 first inning, he ran into trouble in the second. Alabama A&M designated hitter Justin Lott beat shortstop Paul Gomez’s throw from deep in the hole for an infield single to lead off the inning. Robertson then walked three of the next five batters he faced and found himself facing second baseman Jonathan Smith II with two outs and the bases loaded. One run had already crossed the plate. Smith singled home another run. Although Robertson then retired senior third baseman Raymond Santiago on a flyout to right, his first collegiate start was over after just two innings.

“Second inning, command fell apart a little bit,” Robertson said. “I think I just wasn’t attacking hitters like like I was the first inning. Just trying to be too fine, not really going right into the zone and trying to blow hitters up like like I should have been.”

Mizzou rebounded in the fourth, getting to Alabama A&M starter Logan Smith. Junior outfielder Kameron Misner lead off with a walk and stole second before junior Austin James brought him home with a booming opposite field triple into the right-center gap. James, who entered the game hitting just .115 on the season, scored four pitches later on sophomore Chad McDaniel’s second single of the game. Missouri took the lead on a Connor Brumfield groundout.

“When he’s going, that’s where he’s gonna hit that ball really hard, through the right-center gap,” Bieser said of James. “it was good to see him get back to that because we’ve seen him drive balls out to center field and drive balls to the right-center wall and whenever he’s swinging like that, it’s starting to show signs that he’s back to who he is.”

With Robertson out of the game, it was Tommy Springer’s turn on the mound. After two clean innings, the freshman ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing two runs and surrendering the lead on a double down the left field line from A&M’s Daniel Tart.

In the bottom of the inning, Mizzou took the lead back for good on three bases loaded walks and an RBI single from Gomez, making the score 7-4 in favor of the Tigers.

It was in the seventh inning where Alabama A&M’s flaws manifested. It became apparent as to why the Bulldogs are winless in nine games this season, as Brumfield and Clayton Peterson drove in Missouri’s eighth, ninth and tenth runs of the game with singles. A&M collectively fell apart.

With two outs in the inning, James bounced a ball to third. Third baseman Stephan Soto charged the ball, fielded it cleanly and threw low to first base, the ball skipping under Richard Polinsky’s glove. Two runs scored.

The next batter, McDaniel, hit a fly ball to short center field. Redshirt junior Pierre Brewton settled under the ball and watched it in, then out, of his glove and onto the ground. James scored.

“You stick with the same thing,” Misner said of the sloppy play. “You want to capitalize as much as you can on their mistakes, so just kind of do what you want.”

Freshman Luke Mann, who started the game at designated hitter, closed it out for Mizzou on the mound, striking out two in his one inning of work.

Mizzou’s next game is on the road against Central Arkansas on March 1. Junior left-hander T.J. Sikkema will be the starting pitcher.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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