Friday night turned out to be the only competitive game of the series, and the Tigers had a great chance to win right until the bitter end.
Thanks to an Andrew Keefer 2-run HR in the 2nd and an RBI single from Brandt Belk in the third, the Tigers jumped out to an early 3-run lead against the No. 5 Volunteers. However, that lead was short-lived as the Volunteers got those three runs back by stringing hits together in the 4th and 6th. Nevertheless, Seth Halvorsen’s 5 IP and 3 ER combined with Lukas Veinbergs 2 shutout innings out of the bullpen had the Tigers in a prime position to get a victory.
Another Andrew Keefer RBI in the 6th gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead when Steve Bieser turned to Jacob Kush in the 8th. Kush had been very reliable for the Tigers all season, but Tennessee is capable of changing the game with one swing of the bat, and that’s exactly what they did. In the 8th, Volunteer 2B Max Ferguson secured his third hit of the game with a 2-run HR over the RF wall. After that lead change, the Tigers went 3 up, 3 down in both the 8th and 9th to lose 5-4.
Saturday was much more of what you’d expect when a top-5 team in the country plays one of the worst teams in their conference.
The Volunteers jumped out with 4 runs in the first, and it looked like the Tigers would be done and dusted early on, but they battled back. A couple of 2-run innings from the Tigers had the game all knotted up at 4, but when Spencer Miles entered the game, the Volunteers blew it wide open. Miles ended up giving up 5 ER in just 1 inning, and the Volunteers piled up 7 unanswered in the 5th and 6th. Following those offensive explosions, the final innings were merely a formality, and the Tigers fell 11-4.
As lopsided as Saturday was, Sunday’s game was even worse for the Tigers.
They did manage to get on the board first from an Andrew Keefer sacrifice fly, but after that, it was all Tennessee. The Volunteers scored 10 runs before the Tigers even managed one more consolation run in the 9th. Behind 16 hits and plenty of extra-base hits, the Tigers were outmatched from start to finish. When the game finally finished, the Volunteers polished off their sweep with a 10-2 victory.
Where to go from here
The 2021 Mizzou Tigers flat out stink at baseball. They’ve lost 15 of 16 and they are 13-32 overall. If they lose their next game, they will be 20 games below .500, and they’re 2 games back from the final spot in the SEC tournament.
This season looked bad to start, but there was a sense of optimism that the Tigers can’t be that bad; it turns out they really are. Seeing how this season has gone, combined with the success of just about every other team in the SEC, makes you wonder if the Tigers need to reevaluate the baseball program as a whole.
Perhaps they need new facilities like the softball team and a new coach, or maybe the coaching staff just needs to recruit St. Louis better. Whatever the answer is, someone needs to figure it out fast because this year can’t become the new norm for a program that has historically had the success that Mizzou has.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Andrew Keefer- The RF might have been the only player that seemed ready to play this week. He went 4-9 with 1 HR and 3 RBI this weekend, and also added a stellar defensive play in the outfield. Whatever Keefer is doing before games, maybe the whole team should join in.