The SEC tournament seemed like it was already out of the picture. The Tigers effectively needed to sweep Georgia on the road, and then on top of that, they needed Kentucky to not win more than 1 game just to qualify for the SEC tournament. Crazily enough, Missouri took the first two games of their series, and Kentucky split theirs, but on the final day the stars just didn’t align, and the Tigers’ season came to a disappointing end.
With the fate of their season on the line, the Tigers decided it was probably time to show up and win a Game 1 in SEC play, and they did it convincingly.
In the 1st, the two teams exchanged runs including a Luke Mann solo HR, but in the 3rd inning, the Tigers blew the game wide open. At first the Tigers were simply manufacturing runs, they strung together some singles, a walk, and a HBP to make it 3-1, but then Luke Mann got back up to the plate. If it wasn’t already impressive enough that he led the game off with a bomb, he did it again, and this time it was a grand slam that gave Missouri a 7-1 lead.
From that point, the game was smooth sailing for the Tigers, especially with how Spencer Miles was dealing. He pitched a phenomenal 7 innings allowing just 2 ER and striking out 12. It was by far his best outing of the year.
In the late innings, the Tigers got some insurance runs thanks to Ty Wilmsmeyer and Trevor Austin just to put the icing on the cake. When Christian Wall got the final out of the game, the Tigers polished off an impressive 11-3 victory in Athens.
Rolling with the momentum from Thursday night, the Tigers’ bat stayed hot, but this time it was Torin Montgomery who stole the show.
Once again the Tigers struck first in this one. A 3-run HR off the bat of Torin Montgomery got things going in the 3rd inning, and in the 5th he hit another. Already leading 7-1 at that point, the Tigers added another run in each of the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to put the game away.
On the mound, Nathan Landry secured the Tiger victory with 6 innings of 2-run ball out of the Missouri bullpen despite Georgia managing a couple of consolation runs in the later innings.
With back-to-back wins, the Tigers’ dream scenario was still alive, they just needed one more win and some help from Auburn.
Games 1 and 2 were pretty smooth sailing for the Tigers, but Game 3 most certainly was not. A 6-run 3rd inning knocked Missouri starter, Carter Rustad, out of the game, and gave the Bulldogs a 6-1 lead early putting the Tigers behind the 8-ball.
However, slowly, but surely, the Tigers kept themselves within striking distance at 7-3 for most of the middle innings, before erupting in the 7th for 7 runs. While the story of the first two games had been the long ball, in this one the Tigers did what they’ve done so well all season, manufacture runs. They strung together base hits, they walked, they capitalized on baserunning, and they hit sac-flys. When the Bulldogs finally recorded the third out, the Tigers had a 10-7 lead after once trailing 6-1 in the game.
Unfortunately, the miracle comeback story to extend the season would come to a screeching halt.
In the 8th, the Dawgs got two back with a long ball and went into the bottom of the 9th only trailing by 1. Still, the Tigers had a chance to finish them off in the 9th. However, a crucial error allowed two runs to score and the Bulldogs were able to come right back to steal the series finale from the Tigers.
If it’s any consolation, Kentucky beat Auburn in their 3rd game, so the Tigers wouldn’t have qualified for postseason play regardless of the result. Yet, it still seems that this game summarized the story of this Tigers’ season - so close, yet so far.