It had been a mediocre start to the season for the Tigers before this weekend. However, an opportunity to make amends presented itself in the form of the Frisco College Baseball Classic, but the Tigers couldn’t hang with the stiff competition.
For most of Thursday night, it looked like Mizzou was going to pick up a quality win over Dallas Baptist. Lukas Veinbergs went 5 shutout innings, with 7 strikeouts, and had a two-run lead thanks to SS Joshua Day and LF Brandt Belk each driving in a run when he handed the ball off to Ian Lohse. Unfortunately, after two strong innings from Lohse, DBU was able to get to him in the bottom of the 8th for 3 runs before they closed out the Tigers in the 9th.
On Friday, the Tigers had their chance to bounce back and get revenge on DBU, but for some reason, it seemed like they left their bats at the hotel. Dallas Baptist held the Tigers to just 2 hits and took it to the Tigers on the offensive end with 8 runs of their own. In total, the Tigers struck out 16 times and seemed completely outclassed for 9 innings.
The Tigers did bring their bats on Saturday after struggling to score on Thursday, but only momentarily. In the first three innings, the Tigers compiled 6 runs and jumped out to a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third but it was all for not as the Sooners responded with four runs in that frame and continued to pile it on until the final score read 16-6. Despite starting hot, the Tigers only mustered 2 hits in the final 5 innings.
It didn’t get easier on Sunday for Mizzou, either. The Tigers faced off against the only unbeaten team at the tournament, Arizona, and with the way things were going, you can probably assume the Tigers weren’t able to slow them down. Mizzou pitching would once again struggle to keep the Tigers in the game as they fell 8-4. The lone bright spot for the Tigers came in the shape of a Luke Mann 3-Run HR in the bottom of the 3rd inning to tie the game early on.
Quiet Bats Can’t Keep Up with Lackluster Pitching
The Missouri Tigers are currently 3-9 to start the season and to say it’s been rough for the Tigers this year, would be an understatement. They’ve lost 5 in a row, and they’re not playing close games. On their current 5-game skid, the Tigers are losing by an average of 5.8 runs per game and are averaging just 3 runs per game.
It’s easy to see why the bats haven't been performing, however, the Tigers currently are currently slashing .243/.350/.375. Those numbers are good enough for last place in AVG, OBP, and SLG in the SEC.
Currently, just one everyday player is hitting above .300, SS Joshua Day, and the outlook on this young season already looks bleak.
To make matters worse, the Tigers pitching staff’s numbers are even less impressive than the Tiger hitters. With an ERA of 8.48, the Tigers once again sit in dead-last in a conference where no other pitching staff has an ERA worse than 3.75. They also have surrendered the most HR and XBH while being the only team whose Batting Average Against (BAA) is above .300. They also are just one of two teams who haven’t eclipsed the 100-strikeout plateau.
For the Tigers, there really isn’t anywhere else to go but up now. The season is still young, and if they can find their identity by SEC-play they have a chance to salvage what looks to be a tough season ahead.
In baseball, pitching will always be the key so if the Tigers do want to right the ship it starts with Fred Corral and his pitching staff. If he can get his guys to manage their ERA down to the low-4 range, there’s a good chance the Tiger offense could work with that. The offense hasn’t looked exceptional, but there have been some bright spots from Day, Vierling, and McDaniel. As the season progresses, guys might loosen up and the bats might start driving in a few more runs, but all of that will be for not if the pitching staff can’t settle down.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Lukas Veinbergs — Veinbergs put forth the performance of the weekend in his Thursday night start against DBU. In 5 shutout innings, he was able to punch out 7 and pitch out of trouble on multiple occasions.
The Tigers will head to St. Louis for a midweek pitstop against SLU before welcoming Illinois State to Taylor Stadium on the weekend.
SLU, much like the Tigers, is off to a rough start this year beginning the season 2-9. The Billikens might be just the right opponent to build the Tigers’ confidence up so they can rattle off a few wins in a row. But as all college baseball fans know, midweek games are all about pitching depth so the Tigers will need to exorcise some of their early-season demons if they want to leave St. Louis with a win.
The Illinois State Redbirds are also off to a rocky start this year at just 3-6. They like the Tigers have struggled offensively averaging just 4.1 runs per game. The Redbird pitching staff is what will likely pose the most problems for the Tigers. The Illinois St. Friday night starter Colton Johnson is sporting a 2.19 ERA, and it doesn’t get any easier on Saturday as Mizzou will face Sean Sinisko whose ERA is nearly as good at 2.25. Johnson and Sinisko both have done it against good competition, too, as they gave No. 15 Oklahoma State’s hitters trouble in their weekend series against the Cowboys.