Ortiz, Misner home runs power Missouri past No. 8 LSU

Art Joven threw 6 ⅔ innings and allowed two runs in the series-deciding game.

The Missouri Tigers hit two home runs Saturday against No. 8 LSU. Both went to right field, but that’s all they had in common.

The first was courtesy of first baseman Tony Ortiz in the second inning. The senior turned on a low, inside slider and golfed a wind-guided fly over the wall. The blast gave Mizzou a 3-0 lead in what had been a tight series.

“I think it gave our pitching staff some confidence,” Ortiz said. “Just to finally have the lead. Honestly, I feel bad for the pitchers because most of the time it’s pretty close so they’ve got to pitch good, so it was good to take the pressure off them.”

The second homer came in the eighth. With MU leading 9-5, center fielder Kameron Misner launched a no-doubter onto the roof of Devine Pavilion. Misner watched the ball travel far out of Taylor Stadium to, as coach Steve Bieser said, “put the dagger” in No. 8 LSU (24-13, 9-6 SEC). Missouri (25-12-1, 7-7-1 SEC) won the game 11-5, and the series two games to one.

“This is a statement win for our program that we’re here to stay, and we’re here to compete,” Bieser said.

With senior starting pitcher Tyler LaPlante out with forearm tightness, junior Art Joven made his first career start in SEC play. The lefty was dominant, not allowing a hit until the sixth. Overall, he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out six. As he left the game in the seventh, many in the crowd of just over 1,000 stood and applauded.

“I started off slow, and my offspeed wasn’t really there,” Joven said. “But I just tried taking it one out at a time.”

The Missouri offense struck again the third. Sophomore Clayton Peterson led off with a single. He advanced to second on junior Chris Cornelius’ double and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Misner. It was the first of five times a Mizzou Tiger scored on a sacrifice.

“We had to be able to do those things,” Bieser said. “And that’s something that we have to continue to be able to do as the season goes, is take runs whenever we get a guy in scoring position, being able to move him over to third and find another way whether it’s a sac bunt or a sac fly, and guys are understanding that that’s what works.”

MU added two more in the fourth on Peterson’s sacrifice bunt and Cornelius’ double, then another two on a pair of sacrifice flies from Ortiz and senior third baseman Paul Gomez respectively.

With one out in the seventh, second baseman Mark Vierling popped a ball high into the air between first base and the mound. As LSU freshman Cade Beloso drifted over from his position at first base, LSU third baseman Hal Hughes charged from across the diamond and collided with the 227-pound Beloso.

Both fell, the ball dropped onto the turf and Vierling ended up on second base with — thanks to a generous scoring decision — a double. The sophomore scored two batters later on Gomez’s second sacrifice fly of the game.

“When the ball gets that high in the wind like it did today, it’s not an easy play for anybody, especially somebody who’s trying to run and chase it as opposed to coming back to it,” Bieser said. “So I’m pretty sure [Vierling] is pretty excited about that double.”

LSU didn’t get on the board until the seventh, when sophomore catcher Brock Mathis crossed the plate on a groundout. LSU junior shortstop Josh Smith came home on a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat. It added three more in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as senior Cameron Dulle got the final five outs to close the door.

Mizzou has a midweek contest against Missouri State before traveling south to take on No. 2 Georgia next weekend.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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