Missouri got off to a great start on Friday, and Game 1 was the perfect opportunity for the Tigers to show off their hitting depth. UGA’s pitching is weak with one of the least intimidating Friday night starters in the SEC. Thankfully, the Tigers did exactly what they needed and took full advantage of Georgia.
A first-inning, 2-run HR from Luke Mann knocked Smith out after just one inning. The in the second,the Tigers continued to pile it on with RBI from Ross Lovich and Trevor Austin and homers from Hank Zeisler and Mann (again).
Georgia tried to battle back, but Chandler Murphy was solid on the mound for the Tigers, allowing just four hits and two earned runs in 5 innings. But while the UGA offense mustered close to nothing, Missouri continued to pile it on. In the seventh, Lovich homered to complete the cycle, and Tre Morris added an RBI-single to complete a 13-3 run-rule victory for Mizzou.
With this swing, @Rlovich25 hits for the cycle!! ⚾️#MIZ | #C2E# pic.twitter.com/fUy1Krlt4H— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) May 13, 2023
For as delightfully boring and straightforward Friday’s game was, Saturday was an emotional rollercoaster. There were five lead changes, 26 runs scored, and one spectacularly beautiful walk-off bomb from Dylan Leach.
UGA jumped out to an early 3-0 lead partially in thanks to Charlie Condon’s record-breaking home run in the third, but like most leads in this game, it didn’t last long. In the bottom half of the inning, Missouri rallied for four runs of their own.
The two sides continued to exchange leads for most of the game, but when UGA took a 12-10 lead in the 8th, the Tigers needed to find the offense for one final comeback quickly.
In the bottom of the 8th, Missouri cut the deficit in half thanks to a Lovich HR, and then tied it in the 9th after Zeisler launched a double to deep center that bounced of the center fielder’s glove.
With Zeisler on second, Dylan Leach came up with a chance to end the game, but he was given the bunt sign (gross). After a couple of unsuccessful sacrifice attempts, Leach was told to swing away with 2 strikes. The result was a missile over the RF fence and a walk-off 14-12 win for Missouri.
Walk it off, @ZDylanLeach...again!!! ⚾️— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) May 13, 2023
Dylan Leach comes through with his third walkoff hit--a two-run homer--of the year!#MIZ | #C2E pic.twitter.com/i68QwVnbNR
Sunday’s game gave the Tigers their second consecutive weekend with an opportunity to sweep. The only difference between this weekend and last was that the Tigers got the job done this time.
For as many runs were scored in the first two games, Game 3 proved to be more of a pitcher’s duel. UGA got out to an early 4-1 lead after Condon, Connor Tate, and Parks Harber homered for the Dogs, but the Tigers slowly battled their way back into the game.
In the third it was a Trevor Austin solo-HR, then in the fifth Ty Wilmsmeyer single-handedly manufactured a run after singling, stealing second, and scoring on a passed ball. But before the Tigers could complete their comeback the game went into a 3.5 hour rain delay.
When the teams returned to the field, pitching continued to rule the day – that was until the 9th at least. First, Dalton Bargo walked, then Ty Wilmsmeyer bunted his way on, and finally Matt Garcia sacrificed the runners to second and third to bring up Cam Chick with one out and two runners in scoring position in a 4-3 game. Chick, a Columbia native, made his final plate appearance at Taylor Stadium a memorable one with walk-off single into right field that scored the two runners to win the game 5-4 and sweep the series.
M-I-Z! Walk-off winner for @CChick_13!— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) May 14, 2023
Tigers sweeeeeep pic.twitter.com/biUqo3aXd7
Two weekends ago, I would’ve told you Mizzou was dead as can be. There was no energy in the ballclub, and I was convinced they probably were going to not just miss a regional but Hoover, too. Fast forward to present day, and the Tigers are nearly a lock for Hoover, and they’ve a got chance, albeit a slim one, to make a regional.
The road ahead is difficult with a roadtrip to Auburn awaiting Missouri next weekend. Auburn is red-hot. They’ve won four straight SEC series, including ones against SC and LSU, and Mizzou has struggled on the road all season. It’ll probably take a miracle for the Tigers to win that series next weekend, but after watching Mizzou play baseball the last two weekends I wouldn’t count them out just yet.