COLUMBIA — Sunday was “prove it” day for Aaron Senne and the Missouri baseball team. A day before, the sophomore outfielder had skipped the excuses after the team’s win against Indiana State and spoke his mind.
“We played average against a very average team,” he said, “and I think we’re going to come out tomorrow and prove ourselves a little bit better than that.”
Tied at 1 in the sixth inning of the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader at Taylor Stadium, Senne’s two-run home run, a rocket to right field, put Missouri on its way toward doing just that, giving the No. 6-ranked team in the nation some breathing room against a team that has one win this season.
The next inning, following an implosion by the Missouri bullpen, Senne again found himself rounding the bases, this time after hitting a three-run blast to left-center field.
All that, and he still wasn’t the hero.
The Tigers’ final answer came in the game’s last at-bat, when sophomore Greg Folgia sliced a game-winning double to right field that scored Trevor Coleman, giving the Tigers’ a 9-8 victory, and providing everyone proof that, if nothing else, the Tigers won’t quit.
“They tried to steal that first game from us, and we just wouldn’t let them,” Senne said. “We just kept coming back and answering.
“We definitely played a lot better than we did yesterday. Finally, with Folgia hitting that game-winning (double), it was huge, and it just kind of exemplified what our team’s all about. That’s how we won last year, and how we plan on winning this year.”
In Sunday’s second game, with the Tigers already having displayed their ability to come back, sophomore starting pitcher Kyle Gibson went out and showed they could dominate. Unable to locate his fastball as well as he wanted to, Gibson had batters taking awful, almost embarrassing swings at his off-speed pitches, particularly on his newly-developed slider. Gibson struck out nine batters in a career-high 7 1/3 innings, and allowed only two runs while earning his third win of the season, defeating the Sycamores 6-2.
In support of Gibson, the Tigers got production from some players that either had been slumping, or simply hadn’t had the opportunity.
“You need guys to step up, and you know Dan Pietroburgo, Austin Holt, you can go right down the line, all the guys that we used today that haven’t played regularly, or haven’t played every day, had good days,” MU coach Tim Jamieson said.
All of the Tigers’ runs were scored by the No. 5 through No. 9 spots in the lineup, including two by slumping catcher Trevor Coleman, who was a force last season as a freshman.
“I think it’s a testament to how good we can be offensively if everybody is firing,” Jamieson said.
As it was on Sunday, it will be up to Senne and the rest of the Tigers’ to prove they can do that.