Wendell Shepherd – 23 Sports

This week Mizzou Baseball took on the No. 1 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. Needless to say, Vanderbilt has been dominant so far this season, coming into the series with a 16-2 record. The Commodores are led by the two best pitchers in the nation, Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, both of whom could find themselves at the top of the MLB Draft board next year.. Rocker is coming off of a dominant outing against South Carolina in which he struck out 14, allowing only three hits.

On paper, the Tiger lineup gave Rocker his worst start of the season. However, it was not enough to beat the future MLB star. Rocker finished his night throwing six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. While the Commodores are garnering attention this year for their starting pitching, it is their bats that dominated. Mizzou got out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a Chad McDaniel single and steal, followed by a Commodore throwing error. However, this would be about the extent of the Tiger offense on Thursday night. The Commodores jumped on the Tigers in the following innings, scoring two in the third and another two in the fourth. The Commodores blasted two homers in the sixth, including a three-run homer that brought the score to 8-1. Spencer Miles got the start for the Tigers on the mound. Miles was roughed up by the Commodores. allowing 11 hits over 5 ⅓ innings and giving up six earned runs. Luke Mann added another run for the Tigers in the bottom of the 6th on an RBI double that scored McDaniel. Vanderbilt homered again in the seventh and scored on a walk in the 9th to bring the final score to 10-2. 

The Tiger hitters faced another tough hurler on Friday in Jack Leiter. Leiter is coming off of a 16 strikeout no-hitter against South Carolina. Leiter nearly accomplished the same feat on Friday, throwing seven hitless innings and striking out ten. The Vandy bullpen maintained the no-hitter until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Mizzou pinch hitter Torin Montgomery blasted a three-run home run to left to break up Leiter’s no-hitter as well as put the Tigers on the board for the first and only time on Friday night. The Vanderbilt bats were hot again on Friday, amassing 13 hits and scoring 11 to win by a final score of 11-3.

Saturday night’s series finale was a much more closely contested affair. Tre Morris gave Mizzou a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single that scored Keefer. Zach Hise had another strong outing for the Tigers in his second SEC start on the mound. Hise went four scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and striking out six Commodores. While the Commodore bats were held in check for the night, they grabbed two runs in the sixth on two hits and a Mizzou error. Following the sixth, freshman Ian Lohse gave the Tigers three strong innings on the mound. He allowed two hits and one run, striking out four. Despite the strong showings on the mound, the Tigers were unable to add any more runs, losing the series finale 3-1. 

The series loss brings the Tigers season record to 8-15. The Tigers will look to add to the win total on Tuesday against the rival Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.

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