Missouri offense quiet late in 12-11 extra-inning loss to LSU

Missouri failed to plate a run after the sixth inning.

Down by one in the bottom of the 10th inning, Missouri baseball needed a run to keep the game going.

Starting off the inning, junior Austin James hit a hard ground ball up the middle that was snagged by the second baseman and thrown to first base for the first out. Senior Tony Ortiz hit a dribbler back to the pitcher’s mound for the second out. Senior Paul Gomez ended the game with a groundout to the third baseman.

In their first game against No. 8 LSU (24-11, 9-4 SEC), the Tigers of Columbia had ample time to take over the game and shut the Tigers of Baton Rouge down. Unable to put together a productive inning late in the game, Missouri (23-12-1, 5-7-1 SEC) lost game one of the three-game set 12-11 in extra innings.

The bright spot in the loss was sophomore Konnor Ash, who threw five scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He came in to relieve junior Jacob Cantleberry after the southpaw gave up eight earned runs over three innings.

“[Cantleberry] was definitely frustrated with the outing that he had,” sophomore Chad McDaniel said after the game.

The frustration extended past the starting pitcher.

It began in the top of the first inning when freshman Josh Holt Jr. dove for two fly balls, missing both. The two plays resulted in a two-base error and a two-run double, respectively. Cantleberry would give up a third run in the frame to put Missouri down three.

Quickly bouncing back, the Tigers in black and gold plated six runs in the bottom half of the inning. Junior Peter Zimmermann opened the scoring for Missouri with a two-run single. Sophomore Thomas Broyles was responsible for the final two runs of the inning, first with an RBI single and later scoring from second base on a wild pitch.

After a scoreless second inning by both squads, the frustration continued as LSU tacked on another five runs on four hits in the third. Cantleberry, whose previous season high runs given up in an outing was five, gave up his sixth and seventh earned runs on a two-run home run by LSU center fielder Zach Watson. Pulled in favor of Ash after hitting the next batter, Cantleberry’s final run was charged to him on an RBI-single given up by Ash.

Responding in the bottom of the fifth, Missouri tacked on two runs to close the deficit to three runs. In the following inning, McDaniel hit a three-run homer over the wall in right field to tie the game at 11.

“It felt really good to get one out of the yard for once,” McDaniel said. “I thought it was going to change the game right there.”

From there it became a battle of the bullpen. Ash continued to dominate the Tigers in purple and yellow, not allowing a hit after the fifth inning. His counterpart, LSU relief pitcher Todd Peterson, did the same over his three innings of work.

Still notched at 11 going into the 10th inning, senior Jordan Gubelman gave up consecutive singles before a decisive ground ball was hit to James at third. Instead of trying for an inning ending double play, the Tigers’ third baseman elected to throw home in hopes of nabbing the runner at the plate. In a bang-bang play, the runner was called safe.

In the bottom half of the inning, Columbia’s Tigers were unable to put a runner on base. The one run would be all LSU needed to hold off Missouri.

“It’s a frustrating game for all of us, I believe,” coach Steve Bieser said. “‘How do we respond tomorrow?’ is what I’m going to take away from this game. You can hang on and think about all the things you didn’t do right today, or just spend a little time tonight, think through those and move on.”

Missouri will play the second game of the weekend against LSU at 3 p.m. CDT today. The final game will be at noon on Sunday.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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