By Justin Craft
Mizzou, coming off a six-game losing streak, was looking to get back on track tonight against one of the best teams in baseball this year. No. 5 Tennessee, coming into this game after a dominant performance against Kentucky on May 1, was looking to bring that momentum and dominance to Columbia against the Tigers.
The Tigers were the more aggressive team early, really pushing Tennessee’s buttons defensively. Early in the game in the bottom of the second inning, RF Andrew Keefer hit a solo home run to left field, his second home run of the season, Tigers up 1-0. Then in the bottom of the third inning, LF Brandt Belk hits an RBI single through the right side which scores two more for the Tigers, now up 3-0.
Tennessee couldn’t find anything going offensively through the first three innings of the game. That was until the top of the fourth inning, when RF Jordan Beck hits an RBI single which scores LF Evan Russell from third and it’s now 3-1. Later in the inning bases were loaded and the Volunteers were threatening with two outs. SS Liam Spence was walked by Mizzou pitcher: Seth Halvorsen, scoring another run, now it’s 3-2. Luckily Seth Halverson was able to get out of the jam and struck out Max Ferguson which stranded the bases loaded for the Volunteers.
Mizzou’s pitching has been an Achilles heel all year for the Tigers but tonight Seth Halvorsen pitched a great game from the rubber, going five innings and only giving up three runs.
Pitching change in the top of the sixth for Mizzou gave Tennessee the opportunity to tie the game. Max Ferguson doubled down the left field line to score RF Jordan Beck from second, game tied 3-3. In the bottom of the sixth Andrew Keefer singled and Brandt Belk scored giving the Tigers back the lead 4-3.
Then, in the last two innings of the game Max Ferguson in the top of the eighth inning put the finishing touches on the game hitting a boom 2-run home run to right field to put the Volunteers up by one, 5-4. After Ferguson’s home run in the 8th, Mizzou went three up and three down in the bottom of the eighth and ninth inning.
Mizzou will play Tennessee Saturday and Sunday and would love to come out on top and take two out of three. Especially losing a close game down the stretch which they led through seven innings and made the Volunteers strand 13 runners on base.