Takeaways: Mizzou baseball swept for fourth time in 2016

The Tigers dropped below .500 for the first time this season.
Junior outfielder Kirby McGuire hits a ball that landed directly in front of him causing the dirt to spray up.

Missouri baseball suffered its fourth Southeastern Conference sweep of the season this past weekend at the hands of No. 8 South Carolina. The Tigers jumped out to an early 3–0 lead in the series opener before South Carolina scored eight of the next nine runs to pull away. The Gamecocks then took it to Mizzou in the final two games of the series, outscoring the Tigers 14–3. Here’s what we learned:

Mizzou cannot beat a top team this year

Either due to a mental obstacle or a gap in talent, Mizzou has had trouble beating top teams this season. In 2015, the Tigers fell just short of the NCAA Tournament, but it was mainly because of their performances against mid-major non-conference and lower-tier SEC teams that kept them out. They had been able to win games against quality opponents such as Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

This season has been a different story. The Tigers have yet to beat a meaningful opponent. According to the Rating Percentage Index, Mizzou has just one win this season against current top 100 teams (No. 57 Southeast Missouri State). Mizzou has played a gauntlet of a schedule to this point, and perhaps the Tigers will turn things around in their final 12 conference games, but if they can’t beat a top team and compete in a difficult conference like the SEC, they’re going to be left behind.

The Zach Lavy show continues

It’s been a major struggle at the plate for the Mizzou offense this season, but senior Zach Lavy has certainly done his part. The Tigers’ first baseman collected four more hits and two more RBI against South Carolina, raising his season batting average to a team-leading .340. He also ranks first on the team in runs (34), hits (53), RBI (36), total bases (95) and slugging percentage (.609). He leads the entire SEC in extra-base hits with 27, two of which came against the Gamecocks.

Mizzou’s postseason hopes are all but extinct

Heading into the season, Mizzou had high hopes. In last week’s takeaways, it was mentioned that Mizzou couldn’t afford to go another weekend without a win, but that’s exactly what happened. This series against South Carolina gave the Tigers a shot to make a move and climb closer to .500 in conference play, but they could not take advantage and dropped to last place in the SEC East.

The Tigers have yet to beat a ranked team this season and already have some poor losses, according to the RPI. Most notable in the poor loss column are a pair of defeats against Youngstown State (No. 242) and a split against Seton Hall (No. 118).

Mizzou would have to go on some sort of miraculous stretch to end conference play and win a few games in the SEC Tournament if it wants to have any hope of ending its NCAA Tournament drought.

Next up

The Tigers will return home to start a four-game home stand with an in-state contest against No. 19 Missouri State at 6 p.m. Tuesday. They’ll continue their SEC grind with a weekend series against Tennessee (23–17, 6–12 SEC). The Volunteers will be coming into Columbia with some momentum after taking two of three from No. 5 Vanderbilt this past weekend. All three games in the series will be broadcast across the ESPN networks and KTGR.

Edited by Nancy Coleman | ncoleman@themaneater.com

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