Dreadful seventh inning downs Missouri in loss to Kansas

Missouri’s Lukas Veinbergs delivers a pitch against Western Illinois on March 7, 20201, at Taylor Stadium. Last season, Veinbergs appeared in 11 games out of the bullpen.

Reid Glenn

LAWRENCE, Kan. — On Tuesday, all it took was one inning to do in Missouri baseball.

In the bottom of the seventh, there were five hits, eight runs scored, five defensive changes made, three pitchers used and one error committed.

All that added up to a Kansas win and Missouri loss, as the Jayhawks erased a seven-run deficit in the seventh to defeat the Tigers 10-9 in the teams’ first meeting since Missouri left the Big 12.

Missouri (8-16) dominated the first half of the game, so much so that by the time the Jayhawks (15-8) were due up in the bottom of the fifth, Missouri coach Steve Bieser opted to pull MU starter Lukas Veinbergs and coast home with bullpen arms and a 7-0 lead.

Veinbergs had done his job, going four scoreless innings while striking out five and allowing just two hits. Bieser said Veinbergs could have thrown more, but the coach wanted his starter to save some pitches for Missouri’s weekend series against Texas A&M.

Lefty Andrew Vail came in and immediately threw eight straight balls, putting two runners on base. Because of the big lead, Bieser stuck with Vail. After two consecutive walks loaded the bases, Vail was helped out by a runner interference call after an official review and got out of the jam only giving up one.

Kansas added another run in the sixth, not comfortable with just letting Missouri slide. That run would come in handy – MU added two more in the seventh to make the score 9-2.

In the bottom half of the frame, though, the Jayhawks rallied. Austin Troesser put the first two Kansas hitters on, and the Jayhawks were off to the races. Before Troesser knew what happened, he allowed three runs, bringing Kansas within four and ending his night.

Hoglund Ballpark was about as full as COVID-19 regulations allow, with many students in attendance. The volume of cheers and frequency of jeers made clear that the emotion of the Border War is still alive and well in Lawrence, though demoted to home-and-home Tuesday games in 2021.

So, when Anthony Tulimero homered on the first pitch he saw from Ben Pedersen, the park blew up. The Jayhawks had slowly been creeping back into the game, but Tulimero brought KU within one, with a laser over the left-center wall. KU used the momentum swing to add two more runs and take a 10-9 lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.

By the time Ian Lohse finally got Missouri out of the inning, Kansas’ damage had been done.

Bieser said after the game that he wished he would have seen more offense in the later innings.

“We just have to keep going,” he said on his postgame radio appearance. “We can’t ever think that we have enough.”

Missouri outhit Kansas 10-8, with Andrew Keefer going 3 for 5 and Luke Mann hitting 2 for 4, including a leadoff bomb to right field in the top of the fourth. All but two of those hits came in the first six innings.

In addition to the bats cooling off late, Tiger fielders were plagued by errors — three of them to be exact, with two coming from the outfield. Six of Kansas’ runs came after an error or a wild pitch had been committed in the inning.

If Missouri had cleaned up simple mistakes like fielding a ball cleanly in the outfield or making quick, accurate throws into cutoffs, the game wouldn’t have been as close.

“Really tough afternoon,” Bieser said. “That black cloud just continues to hang over us,” Bieser said. “When you think you have a ballgame in hand, and … all of a sudden you give up eight runs in one inning. Just unacceptable.”