Missouri baseball has disastrous rubber match in South Carolina

Reid Glenn

Down four runs in the bottom of the eighth, Missouri baseball needed a quick inning from reliever Konnor Ash to get the bats swinging again.

The opposite happened. Two pitchers later and No. 11 South Carolina scored five runs on four hits and Missouri was down 13-4. That’s the way it ended.

The Tigers (11-19 4-8 SEC) jumped out as fast as they could — leadoff hitter Mark Vierling hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the first inning, but the Gamecocks (21-9 8-4) quickly fired back, plating two runs in the bottom half of the frame.

South Carolina added another two runs in the second via a Brennan Milone home run, his first of the year.

Josh Day gave Missouri a spark in the fourth with a solo home run, and the Tigers clawed back with RBI in the sixth and seventh innings from freshman Garrett Rice and senior Brandt Belk to pull within three, but South Carolina iced the game with that five-run eighth inning.

Missouri threw three pitchers in the frame and also went through two catchers. Tre Morris completed the game behind the dish after Mike Coletta exited the game with a head injury. Third Baseman Luke Mann crashed into Coletta, who was camped underneath a pop up in foul territory. Coletta’s right eye was swollen and bruised when he entered the dugout.

Inside Coletta found a bench that was dueling with an increasingly rowdy crowd at Founders Park in Columbia, South Carolina. Missouri’s bench continually exchanged words that led to multiple game stoppages. In between the sixth and seventh innings, Tigers shortstop Vierling was ejected from the game, presumably for an exchange with fans from the dugout.

Missouri’s offense didn’t have too much trouble with the Gamecock pitchers, knocking eight hits, but the Tigers struggled to string them together, leaving seven men on base. Missouri had four strikeouts with runners in scoring position and 15 total. Belk, Rice, Torin Montgomery and Andrew Keefer all went 2 for 4 but it wasn’t enough to make up for untimely outs and another lousy pitching outing.

Zach Hise (0-4) made the start for the Tigers, walking four and striking out as many. He picked up the loss, going four innings giving up six hits and six runs.

Ash, Holden Phelps, and Drew Garrett all made appearances in relief, with Ash taking the fifth through the seventh and the latter three doing their best in the eighth. Together, the four gave up seven hits and seven runs, all earned. The crew only managed two strikeouts.

Right-handed pitcher Ian Lohse made no appearance Sunday or at all this weekend, which brings to question whether his injury against Texas A&M is more serious than the team originally let on. Lohse exited after just two outs in his last appearance in relief of Seth Halvorsen on April 2, but Missouri manager Steve Bieser said that the initial feeling was that Lohse was fine and the change was out of an abundance of caution. Beiser said that Lohse will continue to be available out of the bullpen.

Chad McDaniel also continues to be missing from the lineup, but Josh Day is settling back into a daily role after coming off the IL.