Wendell Shepherd – 23 Sports

This weekend, Mizzou Baseball traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Kentucky Wildcats to open up SEC play. The Tigers come into the Southeastern Conference season with a 7-10 record, fresh off of a series win on the road at Illinois State. 

In game one on Friday night, the Tigers got down early, allowing seven runs in the first two innings on seven Wildcat hits. Spencer Miles got the start for the Tigers. After allowing seven in the first two frames, Miles held the Wildcats scoreless over the next two innings. Junior Trae Robertson took over for Miles in the fifth, pitching the next three innings scoreless and striking out three. Kentucky would tack on three more in the eighth to bring their run total to 10. The Tiger bats were held in check most of the night, only capturing five hits. Andrew Keefer and Tre Morris each had RBI singles, Keefer’s in the fourth, and Morris’ in the ninth. The Tigers were unable to add any more runs, losing the game by a score of 10-2.

In game two Saturday afternoon, the Tigers lost 4-3 in a game that went down to the final pitch. The Tigers jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-RBI triple by CJ Cepicky and a Tre Morris sacrifice fly. The Wildcats responded in the bottom of the third, putting up three runs of their own on three straight singles. Seth Halvorsen started on the bump for the Tigers. After giving up three in the third, he held the Wildcats scoreless for the next three innings. He would finish the day having thrown six innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts. In the bottom of the seventh, Kentucky led off with a triple to the wall. Following the hit, freshman left-hander Ian Lohse entered the game. Lohse would strand the lone Wildcat, striking out three in a row. Lohse found himself in a tight spot again in the bottom of the eighth. The Wildcats loaded the bases and took a 4-3 lead on a sacrifice fly to right field. In the ninth, with the game on the line, Senior Alex Peterson tied the game on an infield single. In the bottom of the ninth, the Wildcats loaded the bases yet again. The Wildcats would plate their 5th run on a passed ball, winning the game 5-4.

Sunday afternoon’s series finale was another closely contested game. The Wildcats got out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo home run. They extended their lead to three in the 5th on three hits including a double to the wall. Freshman Zach Hise was making his first start against SEC competition. Hise went four and two-thirds innings, allowing only five hits and three runs to a hot Kentucky lineup. In the seventh, Tre Morris narrowed the Wildcat lead with a solo home run to left field. In the next inning following a Josh Day single and a CJ Cepicky walk, pinch hitter Cameron Swanger blasted a three-run home run to deep left field to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Josh Day continued his great day at the plate in the top of the ninth with an RBI double to increase the lead to 5-3. Day finished the afternoon batting 3-4 with two doubles and an RBI. The Tiger bullpen was stellar Sunday afternoon. Pitchers Vail, Ash, and Kush all threw a scoreless inning each. The Wildcats threatened with a walk and a single in the ninth, but senior Lukas Veinbergs got the last out of the inning to capture a 5-3 win.

Sunday’s win gives the Tigers an 8-12 record on the season, 1-2 in SEC play. The Tigers will have a tough test against the No. 2 Vanderbilt Commodores who come to Columbia for a three-game series beginning on Thursday at 6 p.m.

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