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Missouri pitching looks to keep rolling against La Salle

Mizzou’s starting pitchers were crucial in the Tigers’ sweep of UMBC, and they’ll look to match their performances this weekend against the Explorers

Last Friday, Missouri (10-3) kicked off a weekend sweep of UMBC with a combined no-hitter, its first since 2005.

The pitcher who started that game? Redshirt junior Bryce Montes de Oca.

Missouri coach Steve Bieser placed high expectations on Montes de Oca when he named him the No. 1 starter before the season, and the junior has proven himself so far with a 2-0 record and a 0.53 ERA on the year. He will be the first person La Salle sees when the Tigers welcome the Retrievers to Taylor Stadium on Friday.

Mizzou’s ace went seven innings strong last Friday, striking out 12 batters and only giving up two walks. He regularly hit 95-99 mph on his fastball and only left the game early because of a pitch count that reached 98.

The rest of the Tigers’ weekend rotation wasn’t too shabby, either.

Missouri’s No. 2 starter, junior lefty Michael Plassmeyer, will start game two for the Tigers against the the Explorers. He was solid in six innings Saturday, holding UMBC to just two runs on six hits while adding four strikeouts to his team-leading 25 Ks. The southpaw didn’t get the win after a UMBC rally against Brian Sharp tied it up in the ninth, but Plassmeyer showed he has the ability to keep Mizzou in the lead deep in the game.

Senior Andy Toelken will take the mound Sunday against La Salle, coming off his best showing of the season against UMBC.

Toelken was roughed up in his first two starts against FIU and Northeastern, giving up 12 hits and nine runs in just 8.1 innings. But the righty finally found his form Sunday against the Retrievers. Toelken spread out just seven baserunners over 6.1 innings and lowered his ERA to 5.52 in his first win of the season.

Speaking of La Salle...

La Salle (4-7) was swept by Kansas State last weekend, but the Explorers are not to be taken lightly at the plate — they tallied 39 hits over those three games.

La Salle has totaled 132 hits in just 11 games on the year, pacing the Atlantic 10 and ranking 31st nationally. The Explorers are also 39th in the country with a .303 team batting average and rank in the top-five in the A-10 in runs per game (6.6, 2nd), on-base percentage (.374, 3rd), total runs (73, 3rd) and slugging percentage (.397, 3rd). In their Saturday matchup with KSU, the Explorers totaled a season-high 18 hits while scoring 10 runs in the 11-10 extra inning loss.

Senior Brian Dudeck was named Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week on Monday, the third straight Explorer to receive the title after junior Brett Simon and senior Chase Arnold took the first two of the season.

Dudeck had a stellar hitting display over the last week, finishing four games with two doubles, a triple, a home run, and a hitting line of .500/.556/1.000. He almost single-handedly led La Salle to a win over Kansas State on Wednesday, going 3-for-4 with five RBI and a first inning bomb the first of his career.

The Explorers will also roll out four more players who have hit above .300 to start the season Arnold (.390), senior Austin Constantini (.354) and juniors Connor Hinchliffe (.314) and Ben Faso (.392).

With a bevy of consistent hitters coming out of La Salle’s dugout, expect Missouri’s starting trio to remain key factors as the Tigers look to win their third weekend series of the season.

First pitch will be Friday at 6:30 p.m at Taylor Stadium.