By: Ben Burke
The Missouri baseball team got its “Alumni Weekend” off to a good start Friday afternoon, picking up a 5-4 win over Tennessee.
Shortstop Ryan Howard took over as the leader of the Missouri offense in this one. The St. Charles native went 4-for-4 with three RBI, and scored the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
“Once I saw [the umpire] make the safe sign, I felt really good about it,” Howard said after the game.
While Howard had success at the plate and on the base paths, he struggled in the field. The junior had both a fielding error and a throwing error Friday.
Howard’s play in the field mirrored the rest of the team’s play in the field as well. Missouri had four errors in this one, but none as big Connor Brumfield’s error in the sixth. The second baseman botched a simple ground ball, allowing two Tennessee runs to score on the play.
The defensive miscues muddied up what was otherwise a very strong start for Tiger pitcher Reggie McClain. The senior struck out 12 and only allowed two earned runs in eight innings of work.
Because of this, Tennessee had to work hard for its runs Friday. Down 1-0 in the top of the fourth, the Volunteers played some small ball to get themselves back in the game.
Two infield singles and a suicide squeeze from catcher Tyler Schultz brought in a Tennessee run, tying the game up at one.
In the seventh, it was heads-up base running from center fielder Brodie Leftridge that allowed Tennessee to take a 4-3 lead. With Leftridge on third, right fielder Chris Hall hit a short chopper to McClain. Leftridge time his jump to right when McClain had committed to throwing to first, and was able to beat first baseman Zach Lavy’s throw to the plate to score.
With the win, Missouri improves to 22-21 on the season, and 5-14 in conference play. Game two of the series will be on Saturday at 3 p.m.