Missouri out plays No. 8 LSU after losing opener, clinches series win

The Tigers of Columbia outscored the Tigers of Baton Rouge 26-21 in the series.
Sophomore Mark Vierling rounds third base during a game against LSU over the weekend of April 13-15. The Tigers in black and gold won the series 2-1.

Missouri walked off the field Friday having lost to the No. 8 Louisiana State in a high-scoring, extra-inning 12-11 loss. LSU scored 11 runs — eight earned — against junior Jacob Cantleberry and looked to be clicking on all cylinders.

The run party proved it was an anomaly on the weekend, as Missouri’s pitching staff held LSU to just six runs over the next two games. All weekend it was Missouri’s offense, not LSU’s, clicking on all cylinders. Columbia’s Tigers clinched the series Sunday with a dominant 11-5 win.

“This is a statement win for our program,” Missouri coach Steve Bieser said. “We’re here to stay, and here to compete.”

After Cantleberry’s rough Friday outing, MU pitched well against a formidable LSU offense.

Junior T.J. Sikkema carried the team on Saturday as he fanned 10 over seven innings, only allowing one run in the 4-1 win. Pitching in place of senior Tyler LaPlante Sunday, junior Art Joven delivered the second quality start of the weekend, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. He held LSU to just three hits over 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs.

In both games, Missouri gave its pitchers more than enough run support, with productive outs and timely hitting in particular on Saturday. Unlike the day before, Sunday’s contest saw Missouri’s offense get into a groove and hit for power against the LSU pitching staff.

Five Missouri Tigers — sophomores Clayton Peterson and Chad McDaniel, juniors Chris Cornelius and Kameron Misner and senior Tony Ortiz — finished with two hits.

“Hits are contagious,” sophomore Clayton Peterson said.

The scoring started with a three-run home run from Ortiz in the second inning. It was followed by a sacrifice fly in the third that scored Clayton Peterson.

Over the next two innings, Missouri would tack on another four runs. In the fourth, a sacrifice bunt plated senior Paul Gomez. Later in the inning, Cornelius doubled to score sophomore Alex Peterson. In the fourth, the two runs came on sacrifice flies to center field.

The exclamation point came in the bottom of the eighth when Misner crushed a two-run home run onto the roof of Devine Pavilion. It topped the farthest home run he said he’s hit in a game, a towering homer that barely hit Devine’s roof last weekend against Kentucky. SEC Network estimated that the blast flew 457 feet.

“The wind was a little in my favor today, but I still hit it pretty hard,” Misner said.

Missouri, which hasn’t won a series opener in conference play this season, showed it can come back and win series against the nation’s top teams. Two of the three series wins have come against ranked opponents — then-No. 20 Ole Miss, which now ranks No. 15 in the coaches poll, and No. 8 LSU.

“The last four weekends should put a lot of confidence in our players,” Bieser said. “We’re going to compete and be a tough team every single weekend; doesn’t matter who we play.”

The series win put Missouri at Bieser’s squad at .500 in conference play, the mark that he said before the season would be necessary in order to have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Taking two of three against a top-10 team also puts the team in a good place for next week’s series against No. 2 Georgia.

“The Tigers are hot,” Clayton Peterson said.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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