Missouri splits series against Northeastern as bats stay hot

Saturday’s second game was the second time this season the Tigers have scored 20 or more runs in a game.
Freshman Kameron Misner swings and misses during the home game facing Kentucky on April 14, 2017.

Saturday Double-header

On the back end of a season-opening eight-game road trip, the Missouri baseball team has legitimate reason to be fatigued. Yet, Saturday’s contests showed that this clearly isn’t the case.

After losing a 10-8 heartbreaker to the Northeastern Huskies in the first half of a doubleheader on Saturday, the Tigers responded with a convincing 20-1 victory in the second game. This marks the second time in the young season that the Tigers have scored 20 runs or more in a single game.

The first contest was started by Michael Plassmeyer, who gave up four earned runs in six innings of work but fanned 13 Huskies along the way. Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom half of the sixth, the Missouri offense erupted for five runs to take the lead.

Northeastern clawed its way back and tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, but the Tigers regained the lead, 8-7, in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ian Bedell was called on for his first save opportunity of the season. After retiring the first two Huskies, he gave up back-to-back walks followed by a single and a double that sealed the victory for the Huskies.

The Tigers were led on offense by freshman second baseman Mark Vierling, who had three hits to go along with three RBIs

However, the Tigers didn’t let the result of the first contest affect them, dominating the Huskies en route to a 20-1 victory

In the nightcap, junior lefty Tyler LaPlante took the mound for the Tigers in his first career start. He pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits.

The Tigers’ offense was prolific, scoring in every inning but the first. The team tallied 20 total hits but was led at the plate by Brian Sharp, who had five hits, two home runs and nine RBIs in the contest. His day was bookended by a three-run homer in the second inning and a grand slam in the eighth. He is the first Tiger to have nine RBIs in a game since Jacob Priday in 2008.

Other notable offensive performances included Tony Ortiz, who had two hits and drove in four runs. Ten Tigers had at least one hit, and seven drove in at least one run.

Jordan Gubelman put up scoreless frames in the eighth and the ninth to complete the victory for the Tigers.

Head coach Steve Bieser was pleased with the team’s effort on such a long day of baseball.

"Really long day here at the ballpark, but it was nice to see our team bounce back after that tough loss in game one,” Bieser said in a press release. “That was a tough pill to swallow."

Series Finale

Trying to shake off a slow start that had already yielded a run in two of his first three innings, Missouri senior pitcher Andy Toelken just needed to finish the fourth.

Northeastern’s Ryan Solomon had other ideas.

The designated hitter took Toelken deep for a two-run dinger that proved to be the difference on Sunday, as Missouri (5-3) couldn’t get over a slow start en route to a 4-2 loss. It concluded a four-game split on a confusingly sour note for the Tigers just a day after they slugged their way to a 20-1 win over Northeastern.

“Just a frustrating game for us overall,” Missouri head coach Steve Bieser said in a press release. “It’s the second time for us that the night before we go out and put a lot of runs on the board and take great at-bats, and then turn around and take unfocused at-bats the next day.”

That was the case for most of the afternoon. Batting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, sophomore shortstop Chris Cornelius evened things up in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, but there wasn’t much to be found from him or anyone else from there on out.

Northeastern tagged Toelken for a second run to go back on top on a sacrifice fly in the third. Come the fourth, Solomon didn’t even give him a chance to recover and settle in.

Missouri did get a boost from Brian Sharp out of the bullpen when Toelken couldn’t make it through the fifth. A day after providing the Tigers’ biggest boost at the plate with 9 RBI in the rout, Sharp kept things close from the mound this time. The junior tossed 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief, then singled in the ninth to prod Missouri’s last effort.

The Tigers did get the tying run to the plate in that final frame, but junior Connor Brumfield couldn’t spark any ninth-inning magic as a pinch hitter. He grounded out to drive in a second Missouri run, but the rally fizzled out there.

Other opportunities did so similarly in the sixth and seventh, when a pair of costly double plays silenced the frustrated Tigers. The potential tying run had also been represented at the plate in the sixth.

“We couldn’t get anything going,” Bieser said, “and credit their pitchers for throwing a good game.”

Missouri will return to Columbia for its season home-opener on Tuesday against Alabama A&M at 6:30 p.m.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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