After getting down early, and coming short in a comeback effort on Tuesday against Missouri State, the Tigers suffered a similar fate in Gainesville over the weekend.
For the second week in a row, Seth Halvorsen got the ball for the Tigers on Friday night. However, he was not as successful this time around for the Tigers as he got hit early and often in his 4.2 IP.
After Jud Fabian opened the scoring with a solo homerun in the second, the Tigers responded with a run of their own in the third aided by a throwing error. However, the bottom half of the third inning featured a Florida offensive explosion. A 3-run HR followed by some clutch hitting with runners in scoring position put Florida up 7-1.
The Tigers quickly responded with 4 runs of their own in the top of the 4th to make it 7-5, but that was all the offense could muster as Florida reliever Christian Scott mowed Tiger hitters down over 5.2 IP. Mizzou’s Konnor Ash did his best to try and keep pace throwing 3.1 innings of 1-run ball, but it just wasn’t quite enough and the Tigers fell in a close game 8-5.
Game 2 was more of the same in the first half of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. The Tigers got off to a blazing start on Saturday and took a 5-0 lead early on the bat of a 2-run Mark Vierling HR, a sac-fly, a Josh Holt single, and a balk of all things. It seemed like the Tigers could do no wrong early in this game. Spencer Miles was dealing, and the bats were rolling. But, then the 5th inning came along.
Six 5th inning runs gave Florida their lead right back and forced the Tigers to their bullpen, and the Tigers had to do it again. While they were able to tie the game in the 6th, two more Florida runs in the late innings sealed the deal, as the Gators secured the series victory 8-6 without a single homer.
Looking to salvage something in the series from the nightcap on Saturday, Zach Hise took the mound and tossed a fantastic start. In his 5 innings, he gave up just 2 ER and 6 hits, but still left the game with the Tigers trailing 2-1.
When Hise exited, reliever Trae Robertson was tasked with keeping the Gators quiet, but didn’t have the same luck as Hise. Three walks and three earned runs later, the Tigers now trailed 5-1. Torin Montgomery would continue his hot hitting over the last couple weeks by taking one deep to cut into that lead, but once again the Tiger comeback came up short late, and Florida polished off the sweep with a 6-4 victory.
The Pitching has to be better
The Missouri Tigers will continue to struggle on the diamond until they find SEC caliber pitchers. Many of the Tigers’ pitchers have good stuff, but many still aren’t up to the level you need to compete at an SEC level.
Guys like Halvorsen may be tossing high 90s to 100 mph, but without the results what is that worth. The Tigers have lost 6 straight, and have gotten one good start over that stretch. That start went to waste, too, as the offense went silent while Zach Hise left it all on the field.
Spencer Miles has yet to win an SEC start, and Zach Hise is 0-5 on the year. Usually, the pitching W-L stat isn’t really something most put stock in— it’s really a stupid barometer to measure a pitcher by— but when your starting pitchers are getting no decisions across the board in a series, that’s a serious indication of an underlying issue.
Lukas Veinbergs has been just about the only consistent pitcher on the whole staff, and now that Ian Lohse will be undergoing Tommy John Surgery, he might be the only pitcher on the Tigers’ staff that fans can trust.
Where the Tigers go from here is very uncertain, but if they want to get back to competing at the highest level in the SEC, that starts on the mound and right now they do not have it whatsoever.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Torin Montgomery - The Tiger 1B carries a 9-game hitting streak currently, and picked up multiple hits against MO State and Game 3 against Florida. After starting the season a little slow, Montgomery’s average is pushing .300 as he’s been one of Mizzou’s most consistent hitters in conference play. The Boise transfer also provides great power.