Last week the Tigers were swept in Baton Rouge after three close losses. This week, they desperately needed to bounce back. Missouri pulled off the impossible last year when they beat the heavily favored and eventual national champion Bulldogs, but this year, the two were much more evenly matched. In a back and forth series that came down to the final pitch, it was the Tigers who left Taylor Stadium on Sunday with a smile on their faces.
Missouri was winless on Friday nights in SEC play coming into this series, and this weekend that trend continued. In an effort to shake things up, Steve Bieser elected to swap Tony Neubeck and Spencer Miles spots in the rotation so the true freshman got the ball on Friday night. Unfortunately for Neubeck things did not go nearly as good as his previous two starts.
To get things going right away, RJ Yeager hit a leadoff HR, and it was all Bulldogs from there on out. The Tigers didn’t even score until Mississippi State led 9-0 already. Every MSU starter got a hit, and heading into the 8th inning the Bulldogs had a commanding 13-1 lead.
As somewhat of a consolation, the Tigers scored three runs in the 8th and 9th, but it was far too late for them to have any significance, and the Bulldogs took the Friday night game in commanding fashion 13-4.
Despite the blowout loss, Justin Colon still managed to hit his first collegiate bomb:
The results of Friday and Saturday couldn’t have been more polar opposite as the Tigers were the ones who dominated the second game of the series. Despite this, MSU still got on the board first with two 1st inning runs, but in the bottom half of the inning, Fox Leum made a statement when he launched a grand slam over the CF wall to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead, their first of the series.
For the next 3 innings, the teams exchanged runs as the pitchers scrambled for anyway to get outs, and Missouri lead 7-5 heading into the middle innings where they pulled away. Two runs in the 4th, one in the 5th, and NINE runs in the 6th were all the work they’d need to separate themselves from the Bulldogs.
With an offensive explosion of that caliber it took every bat in the lineup contributing, and after the game, every Missouri starter finished with at least 1 hit, 1 RBI, and 1 run. The Bulldogs had no answer for the wholistic team effort that the Tigers used to batter their pitching. Leum and Ross Lovich, who hit 2 HR after hitting another on Friday, each led the team with 4 RBI, and Austin Marozas provided 4 innings of 2-run ball out of the pen, after the Bulldogs roughed up Miles for 5 runs in 5 innings.
After the explosive middle innings for the Tigers things were somewhat of a formality, and they polished of a dominant 19-8 win with ease while setting the school record for runs scored in an SEC game.
Here’s Leum’s first inning grand slam that got the Tiger offense going:
After exchanging blowout victories in games one an two of the series, it was only fitting that the Bulldogs and Tigers played a game that would come down to the final pitch on Sunday.
Two first inning HR from Kamren James and Hunter Hines put the Bulldogs up 3-0 early, but the Tigers made sure they were ready to respond. In the 3rd, Luke Mann hit his third HR of the series (one in each game), and Fox Leum was able to reach base on an error that plated Trevor Austin.
In the 5th, the Tigers tied it up on a wild pitch, before Ty Wilmsmeyer launched a 3-run bomb to give Missouri a 6-3 lead. With Carter Rustad, who went 4.1 innings with 1 ER, locked in on the mound, things were looking good for the Tigers. However, in the 6th, Yeager took Austin Cheeley yard to make it 6-5, and in the 7th a Brad Cumbest double plated Hunter Hines to retie the ball game.
Needing a stopper Steve Bieser turned to Ian Lohse in the later innings, and he delivered. 2.2 innigns of 1-hit, shutout baseball with 6 Ks was about as good as any manager could hope for, and going into the bottom half of the 9th, the Tigers had a chance to end it.
Wasting no-time, Josh Day, the leadoff man in the inning, took a breaking ball over the RF wall, and the Tigers won 7-6 to take a series from the defending national champions.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Despite the fact that Luke Mann and Ross Lovich hit 3 HR in this series, Josh Day was still the best player on field. He had multiple hits in each game, and finished the series 7-12 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. He also made a stellar defensive play at SS on Sunday before hitting the walk-off HR. He may not have had the eye-popping numbers that Lovich or Mann had, but he was steady eddy all series delivering hit after hit, and finally finishing off the series victory.
Here’s impressive snag at SS: