After announcing their presence on a national stage last weekend, it was time for Missouri to take care of business against Florida International. However, things weren’t smooth sailing throughout the weekend as the Tigers dropped the first game and lost a key bullpen arm to injury.
It wasn’t pretty for Missouri on Thursday night, but one positive was Chandler Murphy’s successful start.
After going just 2.2 innings and allowing 5 ER in his first start as a Tiger against Oklahoma State, Murphy bounced back in a big way going 5 innings and allowing just 2 ER. This was a welcome sign for Missouri who, despite exceeding expectations at the College Baseball Showdown, were left with questions in the starting pitching department.
Aside from Murphy’s positive start, about the only other things that went right for Missouri were Trevor Austin and Hank Zeisler’s home runs, but they weren’t enough for a Tiger win.
After Murphy exited the game, Austin Troesser took the mound for Missouri. Troesser threw a scoreless sixth inning, but FIU broke a 2-2 tie in the 7th inning with a sacrifice fly and RBI single.
Missouri went to the 9th still trailing by two and even got a run back after a wild pitch, but left the tying run in scoring position and lost 4-3.
Ian Lohse got the start on the mound and went 2.1 innings of scoreless ball for Missouri, but the pitcher who once again made the headlines was Tony Neubeck. The left-handed reliever went 5 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 6.
Offensively, the bats woke up with an explosive third inning. After Trevor Austin drew a walk with the bases loaded, Zeisler unloaded on a ball and sent it over the RF fence for a grand slam. That was his second HR of the weekend, and it wasn’t his last.
Those five runs were plenty for the Tigers to keep the lead with the way Neubeck was pitching, and Zach Franklin came in for the save in the 9th. The Western Carolina transfer continued his hot start to the season and struck out two batters, securing his first save of the year in a 5-2 Mizzou win.
On Saturday, the Missouri bats finally put it together for a full 9 innings. The Tigers plated 10 runs thanks in large part to five different players having multiple hits. Trevor Austin and Hank Zeisler each hit a home run, and Missouri put a crooked number up in four different innings.
Freshman DH Dalton Bargo had his best performance of the weekend as he went 2-4 with 2 RBI, while six other players each had 1 RBI, and the Tigers plated 10.
Things were going well for Missouri on the mound, too, when Javyn Pimental started the game with 4.1 innings allowing 2 unearned runs before Steve Bieser went to the pen for Sam Horn.
Horn looked dominant on the mound, striking out three of the five batters he faced, but disaster struck when he had to leave the game after pointing to his elbow in pain. Horn’s timetable is currently unknown, but initial indications are things aren’t good.
Losing Horn will not only be a major loss the MU bullpen, but he could miss all of spring football practice as well.
Freshman Logan Lunceford made his season debut in relief of Horn and went 3.1 innings allowing 2 earned runs and struck out 8. Lunceford was given the save for his work as the Tigers won 10-4.
Sunday was all about the long ball for Missouri, and they didn’t waste any time launching their first one as Luke Mann led the game off with a solo shot. In the second inning, Matt Garcia kept it rolling in the 2nd with a 2-run HR, his first in a Tigers uniform.
Mizzou stretched the lead to 4 after a Bargo triple, but FIU plated three in the 6th to make things a little uncomfortable for the Tigers. However, that pressure was short-lived because Hank Zeisler launched his fourth HR of the season in the 7th to put the Tigers up 8-3. From there it was smooth sailing as the Tigers cruised to a 9-5 victory.
On the mound, Rorik Maltrud, who has mostly worked out of the bullpen this season, got his first start as a Tiger. He went four shutout innings and struck out six while allowing just one hit and no walks. It was probably the best start the Tigers have gotten all year, and it definitely made a case for Maltrud to get another chance in the weekend rotation.
Getting into the depth of the bullpen, Daniel Wissler and Kyle Pothoff struggled in relief of Maltrud but Troesser shut the door with a 2 no-hit innings to close out the game.
Player of the Week
I mean, there’s really only one man you can give this to— Hank Zeisler. The UNLV transfer hit a HR in each game this weekend, and was 6-18 at the plate with 9 RBI. Last year Zeisler tore up the Mountain West and there were questions about whether he could bring that success to Missouri, but so far, he’s been fantastic. Currently, Zeisler is riding a 6-game hit streak and slashing .304/.414/.696 with a 146 wRC+ so I’d say he’s
meeting exceeding expectations.