For the 2021 Missouri baseball team if it’s not one thing going wrong, it’s another.
Zach Hise and Lukas Veinbergs put together a dandy pitching performance, a rare occasion for the Tigers, but on offense, Missouri hitters could not muster enough support and the Tigers fell 3-2.
The loss completes Alabama’s (28-15 11-10 SEC) series sweep and is the third time Missouri (12-29 5-16) has been swept by a Southeastern Conference opponent this season after losing three at home to Vanderbilt and three on the road in Florida. MU has now lost six games in a row.
Missouri continued its trend of scoring early and losing its lead in the later innings. In the team’s series against Alabama, 11 of the Tigers' 12 runs came in the fifth inning or earlier. The Crimson Tide have been the opposite. Ten of their 19 runs in the series were hit in the sixth inning or later. Bama didn’t hit in the bottom of the ninth in any game, so all of that production came in the last two innings of the games.
Missouri has long known that relief pitching has been the weakest link in its chain, and this trend just illustrates that vulnerability. Veinbergs was not great out of the pen Sunday, pitching the last inning, but he did give up two runs – one earned – to let Bama tie, then win the game. Veinbergs gave up two singles and a fielder’s choice to open the eighth, before settling in and getting three straight outs. Alabama’s damage was done, however, and the Tide took Game 3, sweeping Missouri.
Hise had the best start of his young career for Missouri. The freshman went six scoreless innings before running into trouble in the seventh. Alabama broke a string of 11 straight batters retired and scored a run before MU recorded an out. Before the Tide could do more damage, a popped-up bunt turned into a double play and the Tigers escaped the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Hise got some sympathy from Missouri’s skipper Steve Bieser after the loss.
“Well, just a tough way to drop a ballgame there,” he said in a news release. “We’ve got to be better than that for Zach Hise. He pitched his tail off today and he deserved a better outcome than that.”
Catcher Mike Coletta, who caught the bunt and tossed out the runner at second to end the seventh, performed well in the batter’s box as well. Coletta hit 2-2 with a walk and scored one of Missouri’s runs. Coletta also walked once. Torin Montgomery also hit safely twice in four at-bats. Third baseman Cameron Swanger and centerfielder Ty Wilmsmeyer both struck out twice and shortstop Josh Day thrice.
With the loss, Missouri is now tied for the last spot in the SEC Tournament with Auburn, meaning the bid may come to the final SEC series when the Tigers will square off against each other May 19-22 at Taylor Stadium.