With a sour taste in their mouths from last season, the Missouri Tigers came out and started this year with a vengeance. Strong pitching and hitting gave the Tigers run-rule victories in the first two games of the series, and after a heartbreaker in game 3, the Tigers bounced back with a comeback victory in the series finale.
Last year, Spencer Miles opened as the Tigers’ Friday Night starter, but a series of poor performances led to him losing his job. This season, however, he returned to his role as the Friday night guy for Opening Day, and he seems intent on not making the same mistakes as last season.
4 innings and just 1 ER from Miles paved the way for the Tigers’ 12-1 victory in 7 innings. Kyle Potthoff got the save with 3 shutout innings of his own. As the season progresses, Bieser will surely stretch out Miles, but getting off to this start is exactly what the Tigers will need from a pitching rotation that was in the cellar of the SEC.
The Tiger bats were just as good as the pitching. Trevor Austin, Ty Wilmsmeyer, and Ross Lovich all had multi-hit games with Wilmsmeyer and Austin adding a HR each. Luke Mann also added a long ball.
Missouri newcomers Fox Leum, Carlos Peña, and Hector Mangual each had their first hits in the black and gold as well.
Here’s what Steve Bieser and Ty Wilmsmeyer had to say after the opening-day victory:
The Tigers carried their Friday momentum straight into Saturday for a 14-2 victory.
Austin Troesser got the ball on Saturday and provided 4 solid innings, just like his Friday night counterpart, Miles. In his outing, he surrendered 2 earned runs, but his explosive fastball allowed him to retire 6 hitters by way of strikeout. Another 3 inning save closed the game, this time it was from Nathan Landry.
Ross Lovich and Trevor Austin each had two more hits, and Carlos Peña joined in on the hit parade with a 2-4 day including a 2B. Joshua Day and Nander De Sedas both went yard, and the Tigers scored 10 runs in the 6th and 7th inning.
Here’s what Bieser and Trevor Austin had to say after the second run-rule of the weekend:
Seeking to secure the series victory early, the Tigers hit a roadblock on Sunday.
After back to back strong performances on the mound, Carter Rustad got the ball trying to make it a third, but he just didn’t have it. He surrendered 6 ER in his first two innings and put the Tigers behind the 8-ball from the start of this game. Fortunately, he did settle in to provide scoreless innings in the third and fourth.
Mizzou hung around thanks to 4 hits from star 1B Torin Montgomery, and they even took an 8-6 lead in the top of the second 7th, but it didn’t last. Nicholls State was able to rough up Columbia College transfer Chris Wall in the bottom half of the 7th for three runs of their own, and the Tigers never recovered, losing 9-8.
Here’s a couple highlights from the heartbreaking loss:
Unlike many series in College Baseball, this one was a four-gamer. The Tigers needed a win to seal the series victory and a winning record, but it wasn’t going to come easy.
Jacob Kush got the ball and was roughed up early. He didn’t make it out of the second inning, and Nicholls came away with 4 first-inning runs. Luckily for the Tigers, the bullpen was came to the rescue.
7.1 innings of shutout ball from Kyle Brown and Austin Cheeley gave the Tigers the chance to make their comeback, and slowly but surely they did.
A sac fly in the top of the first was all the Tigers offense mustered for a while, but in the later innings, the Tigers finally broke through. A throwing error in the 6th by Nicholls SS Parker Codddou allowed a run in to cut the lead to 4-2, and in the 7th, Montgomery and Peña each drove in a run to tie it up.
On the brink of completing the comeback, Luke Mann finished the job for Mizzou. With the bases loaded, Mann doubled to drive in 3 runs. That put Mizzou up 7-4, and Austin Cheeley closed out the victory and the series.
Here’s what Bieser and Cheeley said after securing the series:
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Trevor Austin - As much as I wanted to make this Carlos Peña, Austin, had the best weekend of any Missouri player. 5-10 with 2 XBH, 1 HR, 4 RBI, and a 1.588 OPS are just unreal numbers, and this young sophomore from Jeff City looks like he might be primed to be a key member of this Missouri offense. He also scored a run in every game of the series and had 2 stolen bases. The only blemish on his record this weekend was a couple of errors, but aside from that, Austin couldn’t have done much more for the Tigers.