Pitching comes up short as Missouri drops two of three at LSU

The Tigers’ pitching staff was tagged for 17 runs over just 25 innings pitched in the series.
Bryce Montes de Oca pitches in a game last season. Photo Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

After getting off to a 14-3 start in nonconference play, Missouri baseball found itself ranked No. 24, its first appearance in the AP poll since last season. That ranking was put to the test quickly, as a weekend trip to play No. 16 LSU loomed. Missouri dropped the bookends of the series, 4-2 on Friday and 7-5 on Sunday, while scraping together a 12-6 win on Saturday.

On Friday, redshirt junior Bryce Montes de Oca kept the Tigers in the game, turning in six innings of work while allowing three runs, the definition of a quality start. However, the command issues that plagued him in his first start of the season resurfaced, as he walked seven LSU batters on the evening.

The Missouri bats provided little in the way of run support. After being shut down by LSU starter Zack Hess for the first six frames, the Missouri bats started to show signs of life. The first three batters of the top of the seventh walked, loading the bases with no one out. But all the offense could muster was a sacrifice fly by shortstop Chris Cornelius and a groundout good for one run batted in by right fielder Trey Harris.

Brian Sharp and TJ Sikkema turned in scoreless outings out of the Missouri bullpen, but LSU tacked on an insurance run at the expense of Nile Ball in the bottom of the eighth. The Missouri bats went down quickly in the ninth to finish a contest in which the team tallied just four hits. With that, Missouri dropped its SEC opener, and its nine-game winning streak was over.

On Saturday, the Missouri offense bounced back in a big way, scoring 12 runs en route to a lopsided victory. However, it took the bats a little while to heat up.

Luckily, Missouri starter Michael Plassmeyer was up to the task, allowing just two runs in seven innings of work while giving up five hits, one walk and striking out eight.

After four innings, the Missouri bats were still dormant and LSU led 1-0. In the top of the fifth, Missouri took the lead thanks to a two-run homer by catcher Brett Bond.

The Missouri offense then exploded for eight runs in the eighth inning; in fact, the Tigers were able to plate eight without an extra-base hit in the frame. An accumulation of walks, an error and a passed ball helped open the floodgates and get Missouri out to a 10-1 lead.

Over the last two innings, the LSU offense would reignite, tagging Missouri relievers Giovanni Lopez and Cameron Dulle for a combined five runs. But it wasn’t enough, as Missouri tacked on two more in the ninth and Jordan Gubelman delivered a scoreless final frame to secure the victory and even the series.

The rubber game on Sunday had a 62-minute rain delay prior to first pitch.

The Missouri offense got off to a fast start, playing small ball to get out to a 2-0 lead. Bond hit a sacrifice fly to get the scoring started, and designated hitter Chad McDaniel added a run-scoring single.

Missouri starting pitcher Andy Toelken was hit hard, giving up six hits and three runs over just three innings of work. From there, the Missouri pitching woes continued, as Konnor Ash, Sikkema and Luke Anderson all gave up at least one run in relief.

The Missouri offense was virtually nonexistent in the middle innings of the game. However, a three-run homer by center fielder Kameron Misner in the top of the ninth cut the deficit to 7-5. It was the team-leading fourth home run of the season for the Poplar Bluff, Missouri, native. However, Missouri couldn’t keep the rally going and fell 7-5 in the series finale.

After Sunday’s contest, head coach Steve Bieser was simple in his remarks.

“We just didn’t do enough to win a ball game,” Bieser said in a press release.

Missouri’s record now stands at 15-5 on the year, with a 1-2 mark in SEC play. The Tigers return home for a midweek nonconference matchup against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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