Missouri finally got into the win column last weekend against Ole Miss, taking two out of three from the Rebels to earn their first series win of conference play. But the Southeastern Conference threw another heater at the Tigers as they traveled out to College Station to matchup with Texas A&M this past weekend.
The Aggies, who have been ranked as high as No. 10 in the college baseball polls, were Missouri’s third consecutive Top 25 conference opponent. It was pretty clear going in that the Tigers would struggle to put runs on the board against Texas A&M’s rotation, and the expectation became reality when Missouri scored just eight times in 34 innings.
But pitching once again proved to be the Tigers’ saving grace, as an overall solid weekend from the staff helped Missouri leave with a series split. Game 3 on Sunday ended after 10 innings due to travel restrictions, but with the clutch play the Tigers showed the night before, it is very possible they could have pulled out the series.
Regardless, here are some notes from Missouri’s weekend set at Texas A&M.
Pitching once again carries the squad
Missouri’s clear strength since SEC play began has been its pitching.
Only once heading into the weekend had the Tigers scored more than three runs against their conference opponents, which against No. 10 Arkansas and No. 20 Ole Miss is not a recipe for success. But the staff never let the Razorbacks or the Rebels score more than five in those six games, keeping Missouri in it when its hitters couldn’t put anything together offensively.
It was more of the same against Texas A&M, as the lineup mustered just three runs in Game 1 and two more each in Game 2 and Game 3. Outside of one atrocious eighth inning in Game 1, though, the Tigers’ pitchers once again showed the potential to be one of the better units in the SEC.
Besides that eighth inning nightmare with Cameron Dulle on the bump, five other pitchers allowed just six runs (three earned) over 33 innings.
T.J. Sikkema was the star of the staff, coming into the bottom of the 15th Saturday to earn the save and then going seven strong Sunday and striking out four. Konnor Ash and Ian Bedell were revelations out of the bullpen Saturday, combining for five innings of scoreless ball before Missouri took the lead for good in the 15th.
Now, if the Tigers can just start putting a few more runs on the board...
Misner continues to toil
The struggles of highly-touted junior Kameron Misner in SEC play are mind-boggling.
Outside of conference play, Misner has been hot, hitting 25 of 71 for a .352 batting average and looking like the leader Missouri needs him to be. But against conference opponents, Misner has been ice cold. Heading into this weekend, Misner had hit just 1-for-20 in six SEC games, a .050 average.
Things didn’t get much better for him against Texas A&M when he went just 1-for-15 in three games, slightly “increasing” his average to .057. He is still near the top of the team in on-base percentage (.429) since his 30 walks are almost double that of second-place Luke Mann (16), but even that took a hit as he walked just once against the Aggies.
Misner’s struggles will be a story to watch moving forward, but with a home series against unranked Kentucky on the horizon, head coach Steve Bieser has to hope his star player figures things out.
New heroes continue to emerge
Many of Missouri’s incoming players were unknowns heading into the season, as they would have to step in immediately and replace the talent the team lost from 2018.
We’ve already documented the rise of players like Chris Cornelius and Jacob Cantleberry, who lead the Tigers in batting average (.345) and wins (3), respectively. But let’s not diminish the impact some of Missouri’s other emerging leaders.
While most of the lineup struggled to get on base, Peter Zimmermann and Chad McDaniel carried the load against Texas A&M. Zimmermann hit 6-for-15 and with a double and a walk, and McDaniel hit 5-for-13 and chipped in two runs over the weekend.
Ian Bedell was highly productive out of the bullpen, picking up the win Saturday after allowing no runs and two hits and striking out four in four innings. He currently holds a 2-1 record and a 1.37 earned run average, which ranks third for pitchers with 3+ appearances.
And let’s not forget the late-inning heroics of little-used outfielder Thomas Broyles, who hit the two-out, two-run, game-tying homer in the ninth inning of the Tigers’ 3-2 win over the Aggies on Saturday.
HIGHLIGHTS l @TomBro3 stuns the Blue Bell Park faithful with a game-tying 2-run shot in the 9th inning. @BedellIan dominant bullpen work sets up @vierlingmark eventual game-winning RBI single in the top of the 15th!#MIZ #ShowMe #C2E ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/VuL9HIyIpM— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) March 31, 2019