Takeaways: Mizzou baseball tops Auburn for second straight SEC series win

The Tigers face a major test next weekend at home against LSU.
Outfield sophomore Trey Harris celebrates on third base after hitting a triple which scored Zach Lavy, extending Mizzou's lead over Auburn to 8-5 on April 7. Mizzou went on to lose this game 11-9, but win the next two games of the three game series.

After starting out Southeastern Conference play with seven consecutive losses, Missouri has fought its way back, winning four of its last five games. The Tigers claimed a road series victory against Arkansas and were able to keep that momentum going at Taylor Stadium this weekend against Auburn.

Mizzou dropped the Thursday night series opener in an offensive slugfest, but thanks to dominant efforts on the mound by sophomore Tanner Houck and freshman Michael Plassmeyer, the Tigers took the final two games of the series. Mizzou now sits with an overall record of 19–14 an SEC mark of 4–8, good for fifth in the East Division.

Here’s what we learned from Mizzou’s series win over Auburn:

Tanner Houck is firing on all cylinders

After a bit of a shaky start to the season (by his standards), right-hander Houck has kicked it into high gear his last three starts. The potential 2017 No. 1 overall MLB draft pick was at it again Friday night against Auburn, turning in a complete game shutout with 10 strikeouts. He allowed just four hits and showed tremendous command and sharp action with his slider.

This performance continued a stretch of dominance for Houck, who has gone all nine innings in two of his last three starts. In the one outing he did not go the distance, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. It’s safe to say Houck has found his groove.

Trey Harris has seemingly turned a corner

Sophomore outfielder Trey Harris has been a bit of an enigma at the plate this season. After earning all–SEC freshman honors in 2015, the Georgia native struggled mightily in the early going this year and his average dipped down to .171 at the midway point of nonconference play. He has since calmed down his swing, limiting bat movement, and he has reaped the results. Harris has recorded a hit in six of his past seven games and tacked on eight RBIs. His spike in production has allowed him to quickly move up in the order. Against Auburn, he spent time in the third and fifth slots in the order. If Harris can continue his climb and continue to get on base ahead of senior first baseman Zach Lavy, who has carried the offense thus far, it would pay huge dividends for the Tigers.

There’s still a lot of baseball left

Staring into a 0–7 hole to start conference play certainly wasn’t the position Missouri wanted to be in. However, the team has put itself in a much better spot now thanks to the past two series wins. At the most critical point in the season, to date, Mizzou’s biggest players are stepping up on the mound, and they’re getting some unexpected help from guys like Plassmeyer.

The Tigers still have a lot of work to do to climb the ladder in the SEC. But if they can upset a team or two and continue to win series against some of the conference’s lesser teams, they’ll certainly put themselves in a position to make a run at the postseason, a point they have not reached since 2012.

Next up

Mizzou faces a major test next weekend at Taylor Stadium against No. 11 LSU (21–10, 6–6 SEC). The Tigers will have a sour taste in their mouths from the end of last season, when they were swept by LSU on the road, hindering their chances of a postseason berth. If Mizzou comes out ready to play with last season’s unfortunate ending in mind, watch out.

Before that, however, Mizzou hits the road Tuesday for a short trip to Springfield to face Missouri State (25–6, 1–1 MVC). The Tigers dropped both meetings against their in-state rivals last season. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network + and KTGR.

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