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Recap: Mizzou baseball swept by No. 18 Kentucky

For the second straight weekend, Missouri was swept in a SEC road series

via Twitter / @UKAthletics

Two weeks ago the Missouri Tigers were on top of the college baseball world. Missouri had just swept Tennessee and was ranked as high as No. 15 in some college baseball polls. Fast forward to present day, and the Tigers have lost their last six SEC games including each of their games this weekend at No. 18 Kentucky.

While last weekend’s sweep at the hands of South Carolina felt like Missouri was a couple bad breaks away from taking two of three, this weekend’s sweep at Kentucky felt the exact opposite. Missouri was dominated from start to finish in Games 1 and 2 and couldn’t get out of its own way in Game 3.

Game 1

Injuries have riddled Missouri’s pitching staff in the past two weeks, but one name who’s been consistent was Austin Troesser. After Troesser made a pair of stellar starts against Tennessee and South Carolina, Steve Bieser decided to give Troesser the ball Friday night. To say it went poorly would probably not do it justice.

Troesser didn’t make it out of the first inning and surrendered 5 earned runs. Turning to a depleted bullpen in the first inning of and SEC series down 5-1 is never a good start. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Kentucky continued to pile it on. A 2-run HR in the fifth and 3-run sixth put the Wildcats up 10-2, and in the seventh, a 2-run double secured a run-rule 12-2 victory for Kentucky.

The lone bright spot for Missouri was a multi-hit game for Dalton Bargo. Apart from that, it was a Friday night to forget for the Tigers.

Game 2

Bieser made another change to the weekend rotation on Saturday, calling on closer Zach Franklin to make his first start of the year. Franklin, who has been spectacular this year, fell victim to the same offensive onslaught that plagued Troesser. While Franklin did make it out of the first inning, there’s a real argument that the Wildcats roughed him up even more than Troesser on Friday.

Franklin went just 1.1 innings and allowed 7 hits and 7 earned runs. It was by far his worst outing of the year. Even more impressively, Kentucky did that damage without a home run continuing their 2023 trend of killing teams with their small-ball style. In the third, Wildcats SS Grant Smith homered to make it 8-0, and the ‘Cats added another in the sixth and eighth for their second consecutive run-rule victory. This one was 10-0.

The Tigers were held to just five hits in this game, and there was little to celebrate for Missouri.

Game 3

On Sunday, Missouri was desperate to salvage anything from what had so far been a one-sided series, and ace Chandler Murphy gave them a chance. Just last week, Murphy went down with an injury against South Carolina, but was back pitching this week, albeit on Sunday instead of his regular Friday night role.

While Troesser and Franklin were beat up on by the Kentucky lineup, Murphy navigated it masterfully. The Arizona transfer went six innings allowing 4 hits and 2 runs, only one of which was earned. When he left the game, Missouri trailed 2-1, but was firmly in the ballgame.

With Rorik Maltrud coming in to relieve Murphy, the Tigers were in a prime position to steal the finale of what had been a miserable series, but they couldn’t get out of their own way. In the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, Missouri left at least one runner in scoring position, and in the 9th, they left the bases loaded. In the end the forgettable weekend for the Tigers came to a close with a 3-1 loss that felt like they had every chance to win.

Player of the Week

This has to go to Murphy. Coming back from an injury in a game that his team needed to win, Murphy gave the Tigers every opportunity to do so. Unfortunately for him, his team let him down, but that doesn’t diminish the quality of his outing in his team’s time of need. Murphy has established himself as a legit SEC weekend starter evidenced by his 6 inning, 1 earned run outing this weekend. The Tigers have leaned on him all season, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop any time soon.