Sikkema leads the way as Missouri one-hits South Carolina

Sophomore Chad McDaniel led the way for Missouri at the plate with three hits and two RBIs.

With one swing of Luke Berryhill’s bat, history was no longer in the making.

The outcome of the game was in no doubt, with Missouri leading South Carolina by double digits in the ninth inning, but the Gamecock redshirt sophomore’s single into shallow right field brought an end to a combined Tiger no-hitter with just two outs to go.

No-hitter or not, the 11-0 Missouri win on a cold, windy Saturday night at Taylor Stadium was one to remember for junior starting pitcher TJ Sikkema and the rest of the Tiger staff. Sikkema struck out 10 and walked four in seven innings of no-hit ball before sophomore Konnor Ash dealt a clean eighth. Sophomore Trey Dillard gave up the Berryhill single with one out in the ninth, but promptly retired the next two hitters to complete the victory.

“I wasn’t happy with the walks, but my fastball command for the most part was working really well,” Sikkema said. “[South Carolina was] pretty susceptible to the inside fastball, and luckily that’s where my fastballs were going.”

Catcher Chad McDaniel said he could sense a strong outing from Sikkema during their bullpen session earlier in the day.

“As soon as he got done with his bullpen, I knew he was going to be on tonight because all of his stuff was working,” McDaniel said. “You could tell he was really focused during his bullpen, trying to command all of his pitches and I could just tell right from the first pitch that it was going to be a good night.”

Despite the lopsided final score, Missouri (29-15-1, 9-10-1 SEC) did not pull away from South Carolina (24-9, 5-15) until late in the contest. The Tiger hitters had some early trouble with runners in scoring position, stranding men on second base in the first and second innings.

Junior Peter Zimmermann dug the Tigers out of that rut in the third with senior Paul Gomez on second base and junior Kameron Misner on first. Zimmermann laced a shot into deep left field, bringing both runners home. Misner was ruled out after a video review, but Missouri had made its way onto the scoreboard first.

The 1-0 Tiger lead was maintained until the seventh, when MU broke the tension of the one-run game with an offensive blast. Freshman South Carolina starter Cam Tringali was replaced after hitting senior Connor Brumfield and walking Gomez, and the Tigers proceeded to score eight runs on five hits against four different Gamecock relievers.

When the dust cleared and gave way to the eighth inning, Sikkema’s remarkable outing officially came to a close.

“I was told that I was coming out before the first hitter even got up [in the seventh], and it was the right decision,” Sikkema said. “I threw too many pitches and walked too many guys, so it is what it is.”

Missouri tacked on two more insurance runs in the home half of the eighth to complete the scoring before the no-hitter bid came to an end in the ninth. Berryhill’s single off Dillard brought an end to a 42-batter hitless run for South Carolina, dating back to the sixth inning of Friday’s game at Taylor Stadium.

“Dillard is the next guy ready to step up and be a big contributor in that bullpen,” Missouri coach Steve Bieser said. “I wanted him to have some pressure. We weren’t concerned about the no-hitter.”

The win secured a series victory for the Tigers, their fourth in as many chances at home in conference play this season. They will try to complete a weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Gamecocks in the series finale. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CDT.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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