Baseball continues hot start with weekend sweep of UIC

By Joey Schneider, 23 Sports

Sunday, March 1-

The Missouri Tigers baseball team continued to exceed early season expectations, picking up three victories against the UIC Flames over the weekend.

The series sweep improves the Tigers to 10-1 overall, which is the team’s best start since 1985.

While the Tigers were originally scheduled to play this series on home grounds, the games were moved to Millington, Tenn. with the possibility of inclement weather. As a result of the location change, the Tigers played a doubleheader on Saturday and one morning game on Sunday.

In the series opener, Missouri struck first with a two-run third inning. Catcher Jack Klages started this offensive rally with a double, followed by an RBI single from outfielder Jake Ring and a sacrifice bunt from third baseman Josh Lester.

Two-time SEC Pitcher of the Week Reggie McClain earned his third quality start of the season, surrendering only one earned run over seven innings. However, his 22-inning shutout streak ended in the sixth inning, when the Flames scored two runs from two different RBI base hits.

Relief pitchers Austin Tribby and Breckin Williams followed McClain, and the two relievers combined for a pair of scoreless innings.

Mizzou’s offense had gone quiet since their third inning rally, as the team was held without another hit until the bottom of the ninth. But the Tigers’ last hit proved to be the most valuable in the 3-2 victory, as Josh Lester provided the walk-off heroics with a solo home run.

Saturday’s nightcap provided similar results, as Mizzou’s hitters took advantage of early scoring opportunities once again. The Tigers plated two runs in the first inning with an RBI groundout from shortstop Ryan Howard and RBI single from designated hitter Brett Bond.

Even though the offense was limited to five hits after the first inning, this early rally proved to be the only run support that Mizzou needed. Starting pitcher Tanner Houck threw 6.2 shutout innings without issuing a walk, while striking out three.

The Tigers stuck with their same bullpen combination from Game 1. Austin Tribby gave up one earned run in the eighth inning, but Breckin Williams was able to preserve the 2-1 lead and earn his fifth save of the season.

With a series sweep at stake, the Tigers remained confident heading into Sunday’s finale. UIC opened the scoring in the third inning with an RBI single from Tyler Detmer. But Mizzou answered in the bottom half of the inning, as outfielder Jake Ring captivated a three-run rally with a solo home run.

Starting pitcher Peter Fairbanks delivered another strong performance for Mizzou, tossing 7.1 innings of one run ball. Fairbanks nearly ran into trouble in the eighth, giving up a one out single with a three-run lead. Andrew Schwaab induced an inning-ending double play to reduce the chance a UIC comeback.

The Tigers extended their lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring six runs off of two UIC relief pitchers. Mizzou’s offensive breakout was highlighted by RBI hits from Zach Lavy, Jake Ring and Josh Lester. The Tigers scored ten unanswered runs in the series finale, while Andrew Schwaab pitched into the ninth inning and collected his first save in Mizzou’s 10-1 victory.

The series sweep featured impressive performances from several Tigers. Five different position players had at least one multi-hit game for Mizzou, while all three starting pitchers earned quality starts in their outings.

The Tigers carry a six-game winning streak into their home opener on Tuesday when they play the Central Arkansas Bears at 6:05 p.m.