By Brandon Nimmons
COLUMBIA, Mo.- Saturday held 18 innings of baseball for the Missouri Tigers, and the pitching was definitely what was left to be desired from the first nine. The Tigers’ lineup and pitching came alive early and often in game two, however.
The Missouri Tigers struggled in game one, giving up 17 runs, mostly on the bat of Chris Esposito, who hit two home runs and had seven RBI in a very impressive offensive performance. There were a total of 30 hits in game one, which featured a heavy scoreline of 17-11, the highest combined score of Missouri’s season thus far. The Tiger’s pitching, which came into the series giving up nine runs per game, has been the leading cause for early struggles this season, and had given up 27 runs in just two games this series.
The offense struggled to get much going in game one until the bottom of the ninth, when the Tigers scored six runs to cut the deficit in half before failing to put together the 12-run comeback. Tigers starting pitcher Andrew Vail pitched just 3.0 innings, gave up five runs (three earned), five hits, walked four batters, and struck out five. Other than Chris Esposito’s first home run of the afternoon in the first inning, which brought in three, Vail didn’t give up another earned run.
Relievers Lukas Veinburgs and Brenner Maloney combined for 4.0 IP and gave up 11 runs, ten of which were earned. Drew Garrett came in for the ninth and gave up a run. Omaha Mavericks starter Spencer Koelewyn only put up 2.0 IP, and gave up four runs (all earned) on three hits. However, the Maverick bullpen turned out to be the difference in this shootout. Mark Timmins, Tanner Howe, and Jackson Gordon combined for 7.0 IP, and gave up only two runs (both earned). Casey Young, however, came into the game to start the ninth, but gave
up five earned runs before recording an out. Walks were also a theme throughout the game, as both the Tigers and Mavericks drew nine a piece.
The Tigers got off to a very hot start en route to victory, hitting two home runs (Mike Coletta and Joshua Day), and scoring four in the second inning. The power surge continued into the third, when Andrew Keefer blasted another two run shot down the left field line to make the game 6-0. The Tigers continued to add on later in the game before taking the win 10-1.
The key to victory and difference from game one was the Tigers’ pitching. Omaha was held to a .103 team batting average, with one extra base hit and struck out 11 times. After an amazing game one, Kiel Krumwiede went 0-4 today, which was key for the Tigers, considering
Krumwiede was ranked as the #20 shortstop in all of D-1 Baseball.
Easton Smith started the game for the Mavericks, and gave up six earned runs (all via home runs), off six hits and three walks in 5.0 IP. Jarrett Blunt came in for Smith in the sixth inning, and struggled, giving up two runs, walking two, and struck out one in 1.1 IP. Jaiden Maifield came in to clean up the seventh and pitch the eighth. He gave up two runs.
Seth Halvorsen took the challenge of facing the red-hot Omaha lineup, and pitched extremely well, giving up no runs and racking up seven strikeouts in 5.0 IP. Ian Lohse came in relief in the sixth, as Halvorsen was most likely on a pitch count after not pitching last season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Lohse’s outing went as well as anybody could’ve asked for, putting down the Mavericks very efficiently, only walking two and giving up one run off a Chris Esposito home run (his third of the day), in four innings of work.
A notable loss for the Tigers’ offense was Brandt Belk, who has not played with the team all series due to disciplinary reasons, but the Tigers prevailed nonetheless.
Edited by Tyler Kading