There’s always a first time for everything.
Brian Sharp made his first career start at pitcher for Mizzou on Wednesday after appearing 29 times out of the bullpen. Missouri coach Steve Bieser put him to the test by having him face No. 24 Miami in a non-conference matchup, but the junior showed no sign of nerves, hurling five innings and leading a 9-0 victory against the Hurricanes.
The game started as a pitchers’ duel. Sharp was stellar through three innings, allowing just one hit, a triple to Miami’s Michael Perez with one out in the third. He struck out second baseman Willy Escala for the second out, then got shortstop Freddy Zamora to fly out to Kameron Misner in center field to end the threat.
Michael Mediavilla may have been even better on the other side of the ball for the Hurricanes. The lefty walked junior designated hitter Isaiah Cullum in the second, but senior catcher Brett Bond grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. That would be the only batter that reached base the first time through the order for Mizzou, and Mediavilla only needed 37 pitches to pitch three innings of no-hit ball.
Then the fourth inning happened.
Missouri left fielder Connor Brumfield led it off by working a full count before drawing a walk. Senior right fielder Trey Harris reached first on a single to the shortstop, and Misner took a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Mediavilla struck out Cullum, but freshman second baseman Mark Vierling knocked in Brumfield and Harris on a throwing error by the pitcher to put Mizzou up two.
Next up to bat was Bond, the Tigers’ star catcher who had only one hit in 13 at-bats on the season. Bond didn’t let his struggles faze him — the senior smacked a single to right to plate Misner and move Vierling to third. Senior third baseman Alex Samples then laid down a bunt that scored Vierling, and sophomore shortstop Chris Cornelius singled in Bond for Missouri’s fifth run of the inning. Mediavilla finally got out of it on senior first baseman Matt Berler’s pop out, but not before giving Mizzou a five-run lead and doubling his pitch count to 74.
Sharp, meanwhile, continued to prove that Bieser made the right choice to start him against Miami. The first-timer was “sharp” through five, striking out eight while giving up just four hits and no runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Bieser called on T.J. Sikkema to pitch in relief, and the sophomore phenom did not disappoint. The lefty pitched three innings of dominant ball, striking out five and allowing just two baserunners to take the shut out through eight innings.
The ninth inning saw another explosion for Mizzou at the plate, but this time the Tigers barely even needed their bats.
Harris began the Missouri onslaught with a one-out double and a steal of third base. Misner doubled down the left field line to drive in Harris, and Sharp singled and advanced to second on a throw that kept Misner from running home. That would be the last hit of the game for the Tigers, but it wouldn’t be the end of their scoring. Bond was hit by a pitch to load the bases after a Vierling strikeout, and Samples, Cornelius and Berler all walked to give Mizzou three more runs.
Redshirt junior Cameron Dulle came out in the bottom of the inning for the save and almost gave up Miami’s first run after right fielder Romy Gonzalez made it to third with one out. However, Dulle struck out catcher Michael Amditis and third baseman Raymond Gil back-to-back to preserve the Tigers’ shut out and third win of the season.
Next up: the Tigers will head to Fort Myers on Friday to begin a four-game set with Northeastern. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.