By: Joey Schneider
The Missouri Tigers came within one out of victory in their first home conference game, but lost to the Vanderbilt Commodores Friday by a score of 8-6.
Mizzou falls to 14-10 on the season following the loss, having dropped four of their last five games. Mizzou nearly captured their first conference win of the season, spoiled by a four-run ninth inning from Vanderbilt.
“Trying to get the outs in the ninth inning with a two-run lead, you feel like you have a really good chance to win the game,” said head coach Tim Jamieson. “I thought we made pretty good pitches, but we have to fight through this [loss].”
After three hitless frames from starting pitcher Reggie McClain, Mizzou opened the scoring with a three-run third inning. Jake Ring delivered the game’s first pair of runs with a 2-run single, followed by a sacrifice fly from Trey Harris.
Vanderbilt responded with runs in the next three innings, highlighted by a game-tying, 2-run single from right fielder Jeren Kendall. The Commodores kept a consistent offensive attack by scoring six runs with two outs, while stranding five Mizzou runners throughout the night to stay within pace.
Mizzou compiled a critical two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth inning, which began with full count walks from Ring and Harris. Zach Lavy’s go-ahead, two-run triple helped Mizzou reclaim the lead, and the first baseman would score on a wild pitch to give the Tigers their second three-run lead of the game.
“Big hits get the team really hyped up,” said Lavy. “With two strikes or two outs right now, we’re battling and keeping a good approach.”
McClain used the support to his advantage, finishing the night with 9 strikeouts and 4 earned runs over 6.1 innings pitched. Liam Carter came in relief and proved efficient with 3 strikeouts over 1.2 innings pitched through the eighth inning.
“I think he pitched as well as I’ve seen him in awhile,” said left fielder Trey Harris. “He really got us going into the ninth, and even though he gave up the run, I felt like he had really good pitches.”
The freshman was rewarded with ninth-inning closer duties, but blew the save opportunity after allowing a two-out, game-tying single to Kendall. Brian Sharp came after Mizzou’s lead vanished, surrendering a game-winning home run to Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds.
Three of the next four hitters from Mizzou were retired to complete the Vanderbilt comeback, as Commodores’ relief pitcher Ben Bowden struck out two to earn his first save of the season.
“We can’t really be mad at the game of baseball, so we just have to come with the same approach that we’ve had lately, and things will slowly turn our way,” said Harris.
Mizzou will host two more games against Vanderbilt over the weekend with Tanner Houck scheduled to take the mound Saturday at 5 p.m.