COLUMBIA — The Tigers’ first turn through the lineup must have been discouraging for the 600-plus fans that made it out to Taylor Stadium on Saturday. It was cold and the Tigers hadn’t played in six days, but Missouri’s hitters had Indiana State’s 6-foot-4-inch tall, 250-pound left-hander Michael Manus looking almost Wellsian - like David, not H.G. - in the early going.
“I think we were just antsy at the plate, just jumping at bad pitches,” junior outfielder Ryan Lollis said. “We weren’t going to let him get us twice.”
To the crowd’s delight, they didn’t. The Tigers never let the soft-tossing Manus out of the fifth inning in the 5-1 victory against the Sycamores.
“He’s the first pitcher we’ve seen this year that throws straight over the top, so it took a couple innings to adjust to it,” Missouri’s Aaron Senne said about Manus. “Once we did, and we realized he wasn’t very accurate around the zone, we started laying off some pitches, waiting to get a good pitch to hit, and going with it.”
The approach paid off particularly well for Senne, whose key fifth-inning double earned him two RBIs, and Lollis, who had two hits, including a double and two RBIs of his own, and raised his team-leading batting average to .410.
The outburst provided a nice cushion for Tigers’ starter Aaron Crow, who earned his third win of the season by allowing only two hits in seven scoreless innings, while racking up nine strikeouts.
“He was a lot better than the last two times out, but you can see he’s still at times fighting himself,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said of Crow. “But he fought through that and made pitches when he had to, and that’s kind of been his trademark since he’s been here.
“Overall, it was a good performance. Hopefully we’ll build on it.”
The Tigers played without senior slugger Jacob Priday, who Jamieson said strained an abdominal muscle on Friday in practice and will likely be out until at least next weekend.
Senne, at least, was unimpressed with the Tigers’ victory.
“We played average against a very average team,” the sophomore outfielder said, “and I think we’re going to come out tomorrow and prove ourselves a little better than that.”
Senne and the Tigers will get two chances to do just that today, when the Tigers and Sycamores play a doubleheader at Taylor Stadium. Junior right-hander Ian Berger is scheduled to start the first game at 1 p.m., and sophomore Kyle Gibson is slated to start the second, which is scheduled to begin a half hour after the first game ends.