It looked like the weekend was shaping up to be very promising for Mizzou after Seth Halvorsen gave the performance of the season, but on Saturday and Sunday the Tigers stumbled and reverted to their old ways.
The story was all Seth Halvorsen on Friday night. The sophomore right-hander threw seven innings of 1 hit baseball. On 114 pitches, Halvorsen struck out 6 Bulldogs and gave up just one run due to 5 walks. Despite the walks, this was still the best pitching performance of the season by a Mizzou starter and the Tigers were rewarded with a victory.
To add to Halvorsen’s dominant performance on the mound, Cam Swanger and Tre Morris both added 2-run home runs, and Josh Day and Andrew Keefer piled on an RBI each. When Josh McAllister homered for the Bulldogs in the 9th to drive in 3 runs, every run ended up being crucial for the Tigers as despite a strong performance all around, they still escaped with just a 6-4 victory.
HIGHLIGHTS | The squad got it done on both sides of the ball on Friday afternoon, giving up just three hits win the ballgame and slamming two home runs in #Mizzou's series opening win#C2E ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/5z1iSeYAIl— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) April 24, 2021
Saturday gave the Tigers a chance to steal the series from the Bulldogs, who came in red hot to Columbia, and they almost did it. It was a back and forth game all day, but Josh Holt Jr. got the Tigers on the board first. In the third, he doubled in a run for a 1-0 lead, then proceeded to manufacture a run with his legs by stealing third and forcing a throwing error by the catcher that enabled him to score. However, that lead was short-lived as a couple of RBI singles from Georgia in the 4th tied the game right back up at 2. Riley King was responsible for one of those base hits for the Bulldogs, but that was only the first of three on the day. In the 5th, he homered to give the Bulldogs their first lead, but Andrew Keefer stole it right back in favor of the Tigers in the 6th. Eventually, the Tigers went into the 9th trailing by one but tied it up with two outs when Luke Mann reached on a fielding error on a mile-high pop-up.
Sensing an opportunity to take the series, Steve Bieser turned to his best bullpen arm Lukas Veinbergs in the 10th. However, just as Luke Mann tied the game on an error, he couldn’t avoid making the same mistake himself. With two outs in the inning, Veinbergs got the ground ball he needed to get his Tigers to the plate, but Mann made an error that brought Cole Tate to the plate, who delivered a 2-RBI triple and that all but wrapped it up. The Tigers did get the tying run to the plate in the bottom half of the inning, but it wasn’t enough and they fell 7-5.
By the time Sunday rolled around, it looked like the Tigers were a shell of a team that showed up the first two games. Whether they were burnt out physically or the emotions of losing a close extra innings game that could’ve sealed a series victory were too much to handle is unclear, but what was clear is that they weren’t going to win this game.
Georgia quickly jumped out to a 4 run lead in the first inning, and even though it was early, it felt like the result was a foregone conclusion. The Tigers were able to cut the lead to 5-3, but the Bulldogs responded by scoring 4 more runs a few innings later, and all Mizzou could muster down the stretch was a consolation Trevor Austin solo homer. When the game finished, Georgia sealed the series victory with a 9-4 win.
bullpen guys gotta keep their heads on a swivel pic.twitter.com/RgbfSPSJXG— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) April 25, 2021
The Pitching Delivered This Weekend
Last week, I discussed how Spencer Miles and Zach Hise needed to be better if the Tigers were going to start winning some series in the SEC, and Spencer Miles was just that.
While Seth Halvorsen stole the show, Miles’ performance cannot be understated even with the Tigers losing in extra innings. Miles has struggled almost the entire season and has even lost his role as the Friday night starter, but this weekend he showed what he was capable of.
5.2 innings, 3 ER, and 8 Ks was Miles’ final line, and there’s no denying that a start like that gives the Tigers a chance to win games. A lot of Miles’ previous starts have been over by the 3rd or 4th inning and he’s been relieved of his duties with the Tigers trailing by a pretty large crooked number, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday.
If Miles can pitch similarly to how he did this weekend, and Seth Halvorsen can be anything remotely close to what he looked like on Friday, the Tigers just became very hard to beat. Baseball is a funny game, and if you’re in the game with a couple innings to play, that team always has a chance. So that’s all Miles has to do, give these Tigers a chance, and these Tigers might start winning a few more games in what has been a rough season.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Seth Halvorsen- I feel like a broken record talking about Halvorsen more, but no one is else as deserving. Halvorsen already had the crown for start of the year with his outing against A&M, but he did himself one better with his performance this week.