By Ben Schmidt
The Missouri baseball team was faced with a tall task over the weekend against the number five ranked Tennessee Volunteers. To make matters worse, coming into Saturday’s second game of the series, the Tigers were on a seven-game losing streak.
The skid would continue, as Mizzou would lose by a score of 11-4 and go into Sunday’s finale in danger of being swept.
The Tigers sent Konnor Ash to the hill, who was 1-2 coming in with an ERA approaching eight runs. For the away squad, they pitched Will Heflin who had a 2-2 record and a 3.88 ERA on the season.
The top of the first inning only made matters worse for Mizzou. Ash was hit hard as the Volunteers had runs driven in from Drew Gilbert, Luc Lipcius, and Pete Derkay. Once the smoke cleared, Tennessee was up 4-0 before the Tigers even came to the plate.
The home offense didn’t take long to get back in it though. Torin Montgomery sent a double down the left field line that scored two runs and immediately cut the lead in half. Heflin was able to limit any more damage, thanks to multiple catcher’s interference calls on the Tigers, and end the first inning at 4-2.
Two innings later, Tre Morris was able to erase the deficit completely with a two-run double of his own. For a game that started so disastrous for the Mizzou, after three innings they were all tied up at four.
Ash seemed to find his stuff on the mound for Mizzou, and at one point struck out six straight Volunteer batters. After pitching three straight scoreless innings, the top of the fifth was much worse however, with Evan Russell hitting a two-run double to put Tennessee back in front 6-4. Ash would finish off the inning and end his day with five innings pitched, nine hits, six earned runs, and nine strikeouts.
Heflin didn’t have a stellar outing either, as he alternated good and bad innings before being removed for Camden Sewell in the bottom of the fourth. The final line for Heflin was three innings, five hits, three earned runs, and four strikeouts.
Spencer Miles came in to pitch the top of the sixth for the Tigers, and very quickly got himself into trouble by loading the bases with no one out. One out later, Gilbert drove a ball to the wall that cleared the bases and put the Volunteers up by five runs. Tack on a two-run bomb from Lipcius, and Miles finished the inning giving up five runs and putting Tennessee up 11-4.
After the 15 combined runs in the first six innings, both offenses went into a lull for the final three. Both squads used multiple pitchers to reach the finish line, and the final score was an 11-4 Tennessee victory.
Sewell took the win for Tennessee to move him to 2-0 on the season, while Konnor took his third loss of the season for the Tigers. Montgomery and Morris drove in all four runs for Mizzou.
The stars of the game for the Volunteers were Gilbert and Lipcius, who both drove in four with the ladder hitting the only home run of the game. Tennessee had 14 hits compared to the nine for Missouri.
A potential sweep could be in order with a Tennessee win on Sunday in Columbia. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and Mizzou will head to Mississippi State for a three game road series following the conclusion.