Facing Texas Southern at home, Missouri was supposed to hold serve, but doing so is much easier said than done. Texas Southern gave the Tigers all they could handle multiple times this weekend, but Mizzou found a way to win all three games.
Perhaps the only stress-free game of the weekend was Saturday’s early game. The first game of a double-header, Mizzou rode its ace Chandler Murphy to an 8-0 victory. Murphy pitched his best game in black and gold to date, throwing six shutout innings and striking out five while allowing just two hits and two walks. Considering the game was only seven innings, Murphy gave the Tiger bullpen a pseudo game off, which ended up being much needed.
Freshman Brock Lucas threw a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Murphy to finish out the game. It was Lucas’ second appearance of the season.
At the plate, Hank Zeisler stayed hot hitting another home run, his fifth of the year, but freshman DH Dalton Bargo stole the show. Bargo went 3-4 with an RBI-double and RBI-triple. Trevor Austin also went 2-2 with a pair of RBIs.
Not long after Mizzou’s 8-0 dismantling, the Tigers were right back on the field for Saturday’s second game thanks to some poor weather Friday night.
On the mound, Tony Neubeck finally got the start I was clamoring for him to get but struggled. In four innings, Neubeck allowed five earned runs with the big blow being a Jeffry Mercado 3-run home run in the fourth inning that tied the game 5-5. In the fifth, Tigers closer Zach Franklin came in to shut the door in the final three innings.
In the fifth and sixth, things went well for Franklin, and in the bottom half of the sixth, Franklin got some insurance when Juju Stevens hit his first home run as a Tiger to put Mizzou back in the lead at 8-5. It was the third Mizzou home run of the day after Luke Mann led the game off by leaving the yard, and Lovich also homered in the third.
In the bottom of the seventh, Franklin ran into some issues as Texas Southern plated a pair of runs, but he was able to escape the jam and secure a 8-7 win for Missouri.
On Sunday the Tigers aimed to complete the sweep, but they get off to a less than ideal start. A two-run first and four-run third quickly put Texas Southern up 6-0 and it was looking like Missouri needed to find their offense quickly.
Luckily for the Tigers, the bats exploded in the fourth for nine runs, yes, nine runs.
At first it was small ball as Ty Wilmsmeyer knocked in run on an RBI-single. Cam Chick drew a bases-loaded walk, and Justin Colon plated two more with a single of his own, but then Luke Mann came to plate. Mann unloaded on a ball over the right field fence, and it was one of those homers you know just from the sound. The bomb plated three more runs for Missouri and the Tigers were all of a sudden leading 7-6 after trailing 6-0 just minutes earlier. What’s crazy is they weren’t done yet. Three batters later freshman Jackson Lovich launched another ball over the Taylor Stadium fence for a 9-6 Missouri lead.
From what I’ve been told, both homers were 109 mph off the bat.
In the fifth inning, Missouri added two more on a Lovich 2-RBI double. In the sixth, Texas Southern got one back thanks to a solo home run, but that wasn’t nearly enough the way Mizzou was swinging it.
Trevor Austin added a 2-RBI double, and Cam Careswell launched a solo HR pinch hitting for Mann. When all the bleeding was over, Missouri polished off a 15-7 victory and series sweep.
After Rorik Maltrud’s early struggles on the mound in this one, Austin Troesser relieved him delivering three strong innings for the Tigers. He also got some help defensively via this spectacular catch from Cam Chick in RF.
Player of the Week
Luke Mann has been clicking on all cylinders this year. He has a hit in 10 of the Tigers’ 11 games, and he’s already launched five home runs, but this week was his best so far this year. Including Tuesday’s game against Lindenwood, Mann was 7-14 this week with 3 HR and 7 RBI. His average is over .400, right now, and while that’s likely unsustainable, it shows the growth he’s made this season as a more complete hitter and not just a power threat. It’s going to be a treat to get to watch him the rest of this season.