By Kyle Jones
HOUSTON – Everything was going wrong for the Tigers on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Missouri trailed Oklahoma 5-0, and Sooner pitcher Levi Prater was taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Then Alex Peterson hit a three-run homer that would’ve made Alex Bregman proud.
As the ball sailed over the Crawford Boxes in left field, barely falling short of the famous train tracks, Missouri found the spark they had been missing over the past three games. Seth Halvorsen followed Peterson’s blast with a sac fly to cut OU’s lead to one and flip all of the momentum in Missouri’s favor.
OU would not go down without a fight, with pinch hitter Kendall Pettis depositing a two-run homer into the Crawford Boxes to give OU a 7-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Mizzou would not answer in the bottom of the sixth, but the seventh inning would be a showcase of Steve Bieser’s coaching ability.
Bieser made wholesale changes to the back half of the Missouri lineup as they began the seventh, sending multiple pinch hitters in.
Josh Holt Jr. replaced Alex Peterson to start and drew a walk. Luke Mann replaced Cameron Swanger and struck out, then Jackson Lancaster replaced Seth Halvorsen and flew out to left field. But it was Bieser’s fourth change that made the difference.
Thomas Broyles replaced Cameron Peterson with runners on first and second. With a chance to bring the game to within one run, Broyles delivered, smoking a pitch to deep center field and plating both baserunners.
Missouri’s relief pitchers also found success. In six innings pitched, the Tiger bullpen allowed only two runs, the aforementioned Pettis homer was hit off of Lukas Veinbergs who was Missouri’s first reliever of the day. Veinbergs shut down the Sooners in the eighth, and gave his team the opportunity to tie things. And tie things they did.
Zimmermann and Brandt Belk hit back-to-back singles, and an RBI single from Luke Mann tied things up. Trey Dillard shut Oklahoma down in the top of the 10th, and Chad McDaniel and Zimmermann collected back-to-back hits to pick up an 8-7 win for Missouri.
This was a great lesson in mid-game adjustments for Missouri. The Tigers’ rough start could be attributed not to poor pitching from starter Konnor Ash, but rather poor fielding and plate discipline. The third inning saw Chad McDaniel drop a strike three with two outs in the inning. The mistake ultimately cost Missouri a pair of runs. Missouri had a similar mistake yesterday against Baylor and couldn’t respond, but this game was different.
Missouri didn’t make any web gems, and you won’t be seeing any defensive plays on the highlight reel, but from the 3rd inning onward they were reliable and disciplined. This coincided well with an offense that was able to figure out Levi Prater. Missouri struck out six times in the first four innings, but only five times in the last six.
The Tigers’ win breaks a three game losing streak that saw them fall to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, McNeese St, and Baylor. Sunday they will take on a Texas Longhorn team that was undefeated heading into the College Classic, but dropped their first game to LSU on Friday.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org