By: Andy Humphrey
COLUMBIA, Mo. – After a three-game losing streak that featured minimal Tiger hitting, the Missouri baseball team exploded on offense in the fifth and eighth innings in its series finale Wednesday against the Southeast Missouri Redhawks en route to a 13-6 victory.
The Tigers fell behind early in the first when the Redhawks put up three first inning runs against right-handed starter Ryan Lee. Soon afterward, Lee settled back into the game, retiring nine consecutive batters between the second and fourth innings. He finished the day with four innings of work, allowed four runs on five hits, and recorded three walks and five strikeouts.
The Tigers had failed to score more than three runs in any of their three consecutive losses against Youngstown State and SEMO. They snapped out of that funk Wednesday with an eight-run fifth inning and a five-run eighth inning.
Missouri’s bench was fired up during the fifth as the Tigers brought 14 batters to the plate and forced the Redhawks to use five different pitchers.
“Having the bench being alive is huge,” said second baseman Shane Benes, who went 1-for-3 with three RBI in the game. “That’s where all the energy comes from. They were behind our back the whole time and they contributed a big part to that big inning.”
In the fifth, Missouri scored eight runs on six hits, including a couple of two-RBI singles by Benes and right fielder Connor Brumfield. They also benefitted from six walks issued by SEMO pitching in that inning alone.
The bottom of the eighth inning featured even more SEMO mistakes that the Tigers took to their advantage. Redhawk pitchers allowed four walks and fielders committed two errors as the Tigers put the game out of reach with five more runs, making it 13-6.
“I think we took a step in the right direction,” said head coach Tim Jamieson. “We have to grind every day like we did today. We saw an example today of what we can do if everybody is on board.”
The win earned Missouri a series split with SEMO and finished an 11-game home stand in which the Tigers posted a 7-4 record. They begin their SEC schedule against the top two teams in the national rankings, traveling to Florida for a three-game series starting Friday and then hosting Vanderbilt on March 25-27.
“It’s like the opposite last year when we were back-loaded with the schedule,” said Jamieson. “We need to go out and compete every game. If we get off to a very good start then great, but if we don’t then we still got a lot of games left.”