By the time SIU-Edwardsville scored its first run of the game in the sixth inning on Wednesday, it almost didn’t matter for Missouri. The Tigers had been firing on all cylinders from the start, using timely hitting, and quality pitching to build an 8-0 lead through five.
By the time Brian Sharp got a pop out from SIU-E’s Aaron Jackson to end the game, Mizzou (22-7) had already put 23 runners on base and thoroughly dominated the Cougars (7-19) to the tune of a 12-1 win.
Tyler LaPlante got the ball to start the game, and the Johnson County Community College transfer didn’t take long to get going. LaPlante faced the minimum through two innings, striking out the leadoff man in the first before striking out the side in the second.
In the bottom of the inning, Missouri’s hitters got going themselves.
Brett Bond led off with a single to center and stole second after an Alex Samples fly out. Isaiah Cullum worked a full-count walk, and both he and Bond took an extra base on a double-steal. Chris Cornelius followed up with a grounder that scored Bond, giving Mizzou the lead. Paul Gomez and Matt Berler both reached base in the next two at-bats, loading the bases for Trey Harris.
Harris came into the game fresh off of a very productive weekend against Auburn. He had turned in a 4-for-12 performance with two home runs and eight RBI, and he didn’t show any signs of slowing down when he came up with the bases juiced Wednesday. The senior drove the first pitch he saw through the right side, plating Cullum and Gomez and extending Missouri’s lead to three.
SIU-E almost broke through in the third, getting two-out singles from Steven Pattan and Jordan Ross to put men on first and third. However, LaPlante got Bret Fehr swinging to end the inning, his career-high sixth strikeout of the game.
The bottom of the third was more of the same for the Tigers. After groundouts from Chad McDaniel and Bond, Samples singled to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch to put himself in scoring position. The extra base was almost unnecessary, though, as Cullum drove him in with his first home run in a Missouri uniform.
With his team up 5-0 heading into the fourth and the Cougars showing no signs of life at the plate, Missouri coach Steve Bieser decided to pull LaPlante for Giovanni Lopez after just 42 pitches.
“Our goal with yesterday’s game (versus Missouri State) being cancelled was to get the entire bullpen some work. Last weekend, we used six pitchers, so not a lot of people got work,” Bieser said. “It was important to get the guys who got work tonight the work they needed, and it worked out really well.”
Lopez walked one batter and struck out another in his lone inning of work. Mizzou added two runs in the bottom of the inning on a Harris homer and an RBI-single from Samples, plus one in the fifth on a single from Zach Hanna, and the Tigers were well on their way to victory with an 8-0 lead.
SIU-E’s lone bright spot of the game came in the sixth off of Konnor Ash. Fehr led off with a swinging strikeout, but Jared McCunn doubled on the second pitch he saw from Ash. He made it to third on a wild pitch and Brock Weimer singled to left to finally put the Cougars on the scoreboard.
Ash, however, got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat, and Ryan Rickett, Cameron Pferrer and Sharp allowed just one more baserunner over the last three innings to put the Cougars away.
Overall, Mizzou had six batters with two hits and six with at least one RBI, while seven pitchers combined to give up just one run and six hits. The Tigers didn’t let off the gas late, either, using a three-run eighth inning to seal their 22nd win of the season.
Next up: Missouri will host the unranked Alabama Crimson Tide at Taylor Stadium this weekend in its fourth SEC series of the year. First pitch is Friday at 6:30 p.m.