Through the first two games between Missouri and No. 10 Vanderbilt — both Mizzou wins — the Tigers’ pitching staff managed to keep the Commodores from putting together any rallies.
Only Austin Martin had really been a bright spot for Vanderbilt’s offense in Columbia: he went 5-for-9 and drove in both of his team’s runs.
However, Michael Plassmeyer couldn’t keep the Commodores’ bats down, and big contributions from Ethan Paul and Philip Clarke led Vanderbilt (24-16, 10-8 SEC) to a 6-2 game three win over Missouri (27-13, 8-10 SEC).
It looked like Mizzou would again strike first in the the third. Matt Berler led off with the Tigers’ first hit of the game — a double to the wall in left field — and Connor Brumfield laid down a bunt to move him to third with one out for Paul Gomez, in the lineup because Chris Cornelius was suffering concussion-like symptoms from a collision at first base Friday.
With the infield playing in, Gomez popped it up for out No. 2. Brian Sharp came up to bat looking for his first hit in the series and launched one deep to left, but Stephen Scott ran it down on the warning track to keep the game scoreless.
The Commodores got their first baserunner on in the fourth when Martin hit a lead-off single to center. Two batters later, Pat DeMarco hit one straight to Sharp who stepped on first to get one, but an errant throw to second gave Martin enough time to slide past the tag.
This mistake would cost the Tigers, as Clarke ripped a single through the right side to plate Martin. Plassmeyer would get a Connor Kaiser fly out to end the frame, but while Vanderbilt’s Mason Hickman continued to keep the Tigers’ off base, Plassmeyer couldn’t do much to stop the Commodores in the fifth and sixth innings.
Martin hit a single in the fifth — his third hit of the day and eighth of the series — to drive in another run.
“(Martin) grinds out at-bats, he’s a good hitter,” Plassmeyer said. “He just really fights up there and waits for his pitch and attacks.”
In top of the sixth, DeMarco and Kaiser, then Paul hit one into the right field corner and he slid into third with a two-run triple. Ray then hit a sac fly to bring in Paul, and Duvall singled up the middle to end Plassmeyer’s day.
Vanderbilt would add one more in the seventh on another RBI from Clarke to make it 6-0.
Missouri finally broke through a bit in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Brett Bond reached first on a Jayson Gonzalez error. Cade Bormet singled up the middle to move Bond over, and after Alex Samples popped out to second, Matt Berler roped one into the right field corner to finally put Missouri on the scoreboard.
“Right now, I feel like Matt Berler’s swinging the bat as well as anybody we have in our lineup,” Missouri coach Steve Bieser said. “We’re looking for guys that are swinging the bat well, step up, throw them in the lineup and see if they can produce.”
Cameron Pferrer, Giovanni Lopez and Konnor Ash held Vanderbilt scoreless in the eighth and ninth, but the Tigers’ bats again went silent en route to a game-three loss.
Missouri was out-hit in all three contests with the Commodores, and it came back to haunt the Tigers on Saturday. Kameron Misner’s presence at the top of the order is sorely missed, and his return will need to spark the rest of the lineup’s bats as Mizzou moves closer to the end of conference play.
“We just keep our foot on the pedal; finding ways to get on base, finding ways to move guys up,” Berler said. “It hurts not having him in the lineup, and we’re just waiting for him to get healthy and we’ll just keep pushing on.”
Next up: Missouri will host Missouri State in the teams’ second matchup of the season Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.