Run-rule finishes Missouri baseball’s midweek sweep against Arkansas State

The Tigers scored 14 runs in just six full innings of play.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

Wearing home white jerseys, the Tigers walked off the field after a strikeout by senior Cameron Dulle ended the top of the seventh inning. While the Red Wolves of Arkansas State trotted onto the field to warm up for the bottom half of the inning, Missouri’s bench cleared. The team was high-fiving outside the home dugout.

From the press box to the field, there was confusion. Even three of the four umpires were unaware of what was happening.

“I didn’t know it was going to be the game,” junior Kameron Misner said.

Calling the game in the seventh inning, Missouri baseball (11-5) completed its undefeated five-game homestand with a 14-4 victory against Arkansas State (11-7). During the homestand, the team scored a staggering 58 runs — an average of 11.6 runs per game.

Despite the offensive trouncing, the first question coach Steve Bieser was asked after the game was about the wacky ending.

“We talked about the Ten-Run Rule when we started off the game,” Bieser said. “Whenever we got to that point, I assumed it was over and they assumed it was over, so we used the Ten-Run Rule after seven.”

The Ten-Run Rule, according to the NCAA Baseball Rule Book for 2015 and 2016, states that if there’s mutual consent between coaches during pregame, a game can be called in the seventh inning if a team is up by 10 or more. While not a common occurrence — it can only be used in non-conference play — it’s a tactic coaches can use if, in Arkansas State’s case, the team has to travel five and a half hours by bus back to Jonesboro, Arkansas, then the next morning get back on the road to Troy, Alabama.

“They were just ready to get out of town,” Bieser said.

The rule came into effect in large part due to a seven-run third inning to break open the 5-4 game to that point.

Arkansas State’s four runs all came in the top of the first inning. Junior Art Joven, making his fifth appearance of the season, surrendered five hits in the frame. The inning was capped off by a two-run single from Arkansas State left fielder Jaylon Deshazier.

In the bottom half of the first inning, Joven’s team came to his rescue. The first run came on a wild pitch that plated freshman Luke Mann from third base. Eventually, senior Tony Ortiz walked to put the Red Wolves in a jam with the bases full of Tigers.

Hitting with the bases loaded, sophomore Mark Vierling unloaded on a pitch, sending it into the gap in left-center field. With heads up baserunning, Ortiz rounded third base and chugged on home, diving head first to beat the throw and complete the bases clearing, three-run single.

The next inning, Joven found himself in more trouble after giving up a single that resulted with runners on second and third base. He was lifted in favor for sophomore Konnor Ash. Joven lasted just 1 2/3 innings giving up four earned runs, as well as walking three batters and striking out three.

Ash struck down any hope of a run being scored by striking out the first batter he faced to end the inning. Pegged as the game’s winning pitcher, Ash threw 3 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high six batters and allowing no runs.

“I was thinking strikeout,” Ash said. “We needed a big one. I just came in and tried to do my job and get out of that situation for Art.”

Scoring a run to break the tie in the bottom of the second inning, the gates were blown wide open with one swing in the following frame.

Hit by a pitch to start the inning, Ortiz came into to score on Vierling’s second hit of the game. Vierling finished the game with four RBIs, matching a career high.

Vierling advanced to third on a single from senior Connor Brumfield. Following a hit batter to put freshman Josh Holt Jr. on to load the bases and a strikeout from Mann, Misner stepped up with the power to shift the momentum of the game. On a 3-1 count, he did just that.

Pounding a ball to right-center field, Arkansas State center fielder Drew Tipton sprinted to get in position at the wall as all three Tigers began running with two outs. Timing his jump perfectly, the Tipton lept and looked as if he’d came down with the ball.

“I knew I hit it pretty good, but I thought the wind was going to blow it back in play,” Misner said. “But then he jumped up and I thought, ‘did he catch that?’”

He didn’t, and Misner rounded the bases with a grand slam. Two batters later, sophomore Chad McDaniel finished the scoring in the third inning with a two-run home run.

Adding two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Bieser’s squad had all it needed to call game. The bullpen arms of sophomore Ian Bedell and Dulle finished the job in the sixth and seventh innings. They each pitched one inning and set the side down in order.

With a commanding win on the backs of good pitchers and in-tune hitters, Missouri is primed and ready for the start of SEC play.

“We’re in a groove,” Ash said.

The Tigers will begin their conference schedule on Friday with a three-game series at No. 10 Arkansas March 15-17.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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