Last weekend the Tigers showed improvement, but fell just short of taking the series against Arkansas. This weekend they seemed adamant to not let that happen again. A stunning come-from-behind victory on Saturday paired with a dominating performance on Sunday have given Mizzou momentum as they head into their matchup with No. 1 Tennessee next weekend.
For as good as the series ended for the Tigers, Friday night went from how the Tigers probably planned it. The Tiger offense was held in check for 9 innings only managing 5 hits and 1 run, a Josh Day HR in the 8th, and only two Tigers players registered hits.
Spencer Miles made a gutsy start and tried his best to keep Mizzou in the game going 7.2 innings and surrendering 4 ER, but with the way the Tigers were swinging the bats, Jacob DeGrom was going to have to be on the bump.
South Carolina’s starter, Noah Hall, had his best outing of the year as he secured his first win of the year in a 7 inning, 3 hit, 1 ER performance, and Josiah Sightler homered twice for the Gamecocks in his 3 ABs.
Here’s a clip of Day’s HR in the 6th, it traveled 399 ft:
Already down a game in the series against their most beatable SEC opponent of the year to this point, Saturday was a must-win for the Tigers, and they delivered with their backs against the wall.
Fox Leum got the party started early with a solo shot in the 2nd inning for the first of what would be 3 hits on the day for him, but South Carolina was quick to respond. Former Tiger Brandt Belk deposited a 2-run HR over the fence in the very next inning to put SC back on top, and the Gamecocks got another when Carson Hornung left the yard in the 6th with a solo shot.
Luke Mann continued the fireworks with a solo shot in the bottom half of the 6th to cut the Gamecocks’ lead in half, but the balls kept flying out, and in 8th, Braylen Wimmer added another solo HR before the Gamecocks plated another to make it 5-2 in the 8th.
Things began to look very bleak for Missouri having only 6 outs to work with and trailing by 3 runs, but that’s what makes baseball beautiful isn’t it, you have to get all 27. In the 8th, the Missouri offense exploded. Fox Leum knocked in a pair for his 2nd and 3rd RBI of the game to cut the lead to 5-4, and then the Tigers kept the line moving to get Nander De Sedas to the plate with a couple of runners on. A hit would’ve tied the game, but De Sedas decided to do one better. He tattooed a ball 104 MPH off the bat and left the yard for the 6th HR of the day by either team, and the Tigers led 7-5.
In the 9th, Ian Lohse ran into some trouble walking 3 batters, and Belk made him pay by tying the game with a 2-run double, but that just meant the Tigers needed some more heroics in the 9th, and they sure as hell got them. A Ross Lovich BB opened the inning before a Josh Day single put two runners on and moved Lovich into scoring position. Just needing one run, the Tigers went to small ball, and Luke Mann layed down a bunt to move both runners before Tre Morris walked it off with a sac fly to secure a dramatic Tigers victory.
Here’s De Sedas’ moonshot in the 8th:
While Saturday was easily the most exciting game of the series, Sunday was easily the most dominant. Trailing 2-1 for most of the first 4 innings, it looked like the Tigers Saturday offense was a thing of the past. They were leaving runners on base and striking out looking far too often, and things just weren’t going well. However, all that changed in the 5th.
Fox Leum, who was otherworldly at the plate this series, delivered a 2-run single down the right field line to put the Tigers back on top, and they never relinquished that lead. Three more runs in the 6th and 4 more in the 8th including Luke Mann’s 2nd HR of the day were more than enough runs for Tigers starter Austin Marozas who delivered the outing of his collegiate career to this point.
“Once he started kind of wearing [South Carolina] down a little bit and really getting that ball to the bottom of the zone and using his three-pitch mix, that was pretty special,” Head Coach Steve Bieser said about Marozas’ 6.2 inning, 2 hit, and 10 K performance. At one point, Marozas retired 17 straight Gamecock hitters.
Here’s all 10 of his strikeouts from the game:
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Fox Leum - Mann hit 3 bombs this weekend, and Marozas had the best outing by a Missouri starter this year, but no one performed better this week than Fox Leum. The Fantastic Mr. Fox as I like to call him, only played in 2 games this series, but he made sure his at-bats counted. Leum was 6-8 at the plate with a HR and 6 RBI in those two games, and he proved that he needs to be in the lineup every day. Leum adds massive depth to the middle of this lineup by providing protection for Montgomery, and it’s no coincidence that Leum was in the lineup making major contributions in both Tiger victories this weekend.