Kentucky defeats Missouri 10-2

Reid Glenn

Amid a storm of college basketball madness, Missouri baseball began Southeastern Conference play Friday. Kentucky made the initial claim of the spot of top cat in the SEC East, beating Missouri 10-2 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Wildcat hitters flexed their muscles early, jumping on Tiger starter Spencer Miles for three runs in the first inning and four more in the second to hop out to a quick 7-0 lead.

Miles came back for two scoreless innings before being removed. The Columbia native ended his day with seven earned runs on 10 hits. Kentucky hitters had Miles’ number from the beginning, and the Wildcats only struck out twice against him.

Missouri had its opportunities to mount a comeback. Chad McDaniel led off the fourth with a double to left field, but two looking strikeouts later, the chance was nearly ruined. Andrew Keefer kept the hope alive, helping McDaniel get closer to home with a base hit, but Jackson Lancaster whiffed at a ball in the dirt to end the inning.

The Tigers did plate a run each in the eighth and ninth innings, but both innings ended via strikeout before Missouri could really mount a rally .

It didn’t help that Miles’ reliever, Trae Robertson, gave up three runs to Kentucky in the bottom of the eighth.

Missouri’s biggest problem Friday was its number of strikeouts – 15 of them. Four of those Ks were looking, and three Tiger hitters walked away from Proud Park with multiple strikeouts and no hits . Infielders Joshua Day, Torin Montgomery and Luke Mann are on that list, as all three ended Friday empty-handed.

Missouri ranked 18th in the country in walks per game before Friday, and the Tigers were exactly on pace with their season average of five per game.

Three of the Tigers’ five walks came in the ninth. Missouri hitters just couldn’t touch Kentucky starter Cole Stupp. The sophomore went 7 innings without giving up an earned run and held Missouri to just five hits of six total. Stupp was efficient, with four three-batter innings and only 103 total pitches.

Missouri pitchers were just the opposite. Between Miles, Robertson and Cam Pferrer, the Tigers gave up nine walks and 12 hits. Kentucky put a runner on in every inning and saw five innings where more than four Wildcat hitters stepped into the box.