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Missed opportunities cost Missouri in series vs. LSU

In a series in which it outscored its opponent overall, stranded runners haunted Mizzou in two losses to Louisiana State.

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Heading into its first SEC series of the year against LSU, Missouri had shown a knack for getting on base and for getting those baserunners across the plate.

Before facing LSU, Mizzou ranked 13th and 15th in college baseball, respectively, in runs scored (144) and on-base percentage (.420). Missouri coach Steve Bieser was happy with the team’s constant presence on the base paths after Tuesday’s win over Wichita State, even though the Tigers lost a couple chances to score more.

“The thing about it is, we scored nine runs and we left 10 guys on... we had 19 guys on base,” Bieser said. “If we can continue to put 19 guys on base, we’re gonna be pretty good.”

Against LSU, those runners left on base came back to bite Mizzou.

The Tigers (15-5, 1-2 SEC) outscored LSU (14-7, 2-1) 19-17 through three games, but they left a total of 27 runners on and lost two out of three games.

Here’s the funny thing: out of the three games played over the weekend, Missouri actually left less runners on base than LSU in two of them.

How did those games end? Both two-run losses for Mizzou.

That means that, while neither team did a particularly great job of driving in runs, LSU gave Missouri multiple opportunities to come back by leaving its own runners on. The Tigers from Columbia just couldn’t take advantage.

Mizzou left runners on base in 17 different innings, including nine with at least one runner in scoring position. If Bieser was okay with Missouri stranding 10 runners on Tuesday, that’s only because his team pulled out the win.

Bright spots

Junior Michael Plassmeyer was phenomenal in Missouri’s 12-6 win Saturday, its first-ever against LSU. The southpaw threw seven strong innings and struck out eight while giving up just two runs. Plassmeyer is now 3-0 on the season and he leads Mizzou in innings pitched (32.0) and strikeouts (43).

Senior Trey Harris also had himself quite the weekend, going 7-for-13 with three runs and six RBI. His single in the first inning Sunday set the table for a two-run inning that give Missouri the early advantage, but LSU scored a run in each of the first three innings to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Harris’ leadership at the top of the lineup has been tremendous for Missouri, as he exits the LSU series with a hitting line of .370/.463/.506 on the season. He sits at second in the SEC with 28 runs scored on the year, but he was only able to add three more to his total over the weekend.

Pitchers get roughed up

Redshirt junior Bryce Montes de Oca’s problem with pitch command reared its ugly head Friday, as the righty walked seven over six innings while giving up three runs and taking his first loss of the season. His season ERA is now up to 2.17, and his 18 walks are 12 more than freshman Konnor Ash, who sits at second on the team with six.

On Sunday, Andy Toelken took the mound to try to seal the series win for Missouri. The senior was coming off back-to-back wins against UMBC and La Salle, but he couldn’t stop early pressure from LSU and took the loss. Toelken could only get through three innings, giving up six hits and three runs before Bieser brought in Ash in relief. Toelken’s record fell to 2-2 on the year while his ERA rose to 4.56, the highest among Missouri’s starters.

After coming in to get two massive outs Friday, sophomore T.J. Sikkema was again called upon to shut down LSU in the sixth inning Sunday. This time, though, the team from Baton Rouge got to him.

Sikkema came in with a runner already at second and nobody out and looked to keep Missouri within a run. However, he walked the second batter he faced before allowing three straight RBI singles that gave LSU a 6-2 lead. His ERA rose to 2.25 overall.

Next up: Mizzou will head back to Columbia to host a two-game set with Arkansas State on Tuesday. First pitch will be at 6:30 p.m.