Ben Clanin, 23 Sports

The Missouri Tigers baseball team kicked off their 2018 campaign over the weekend, picking up two wins on the road at Florida International. Mizzou picked up their first two wins against the Panthers, but were unable to complete the sweep, dropping the third game of season opening series.

The season opener was a good old fashioned pitchers duel. Redshirt junior Bryce Montes got the nod for the Tigers. Montes is coming off his best, and healthiest, season in a Mizzou uniform so far, appearing in 15 games with 12 starts, he had a 4-5 record in 61.0 innings pitched in 2017. Montes lacked control in his season debut though, and lasted only three and two thirds innings, racking up seven walks. Head coach Steve Bieser turned to Sophomore southpaw, and preseason All-American, T.J. Sikkema. Sikkema proved to be too much for the Panthers to handle, throwing five innings and striking out seven, which is his most in a relief appearance since last season against UIC on March 4th. Sikkema allowed only one run in his five innings of work. The game was all knotted up at one heading into the last inning. Mizzou scored two runs on wild pitches in the top of the ninth and junior Nile Ball came in and closed the door in the bottom of the frame, locking up a 3-1 win for the Tigers to kick off the season.

In the second game of the series Mizzou’s offense erupted, with production coming from all up and down the lineup. The Tigers put up 22 runs against FIU, the most runs they’ve scored in nearly a year. Every single one of the Tigers starters notched at least one hit in the contest, and seven of them put together multi hit efforts. Preseason All-SEC sophomore Kameron Misner had three hits in five at bats, with a pair of home runs and five runs driven in. Misner is currently leading the Tigers in total bases, with two homers, one triple, and one double. Junior Michael Plassmeyer picked up the win for Mizzou, he retired ten straight Panthers hitters after hitting the first batter he faced.

In the final game of the series, Mizzou came up short of the sweep against the Panthers, losing by a final of 11-5. Mizzou went on top 5-2, putting up all five of their runs in the fifth inning, three coming from a bases clearing double courtesy of Zach Hanna. But in the bottom half of the frame the Panthers came roaring back with four runs of their own, giving them a 6-5 lead. Mizzou hit five batters in the game, which was a big reason for the Panthers four run fifth inning. The Tiger offense also left nine men on base in the loss.

The Tigers next matchup will be at Miami on Wednesday, Feb 21.