COLUMBIA — For the majority of Wednesday night’s game, Taylor Stadium sat silent, the dominant hum of passing cars only periodically interrupted by the stadium announcer and repetitive introduction music. Unable to fathom how their Tigers, a team with so much talent, could play so poorly once again, the crowd of 500-plus seemed in awe of the parallel with Missouri’s disappointment the night before, a disaster they had seen with their own eyes after only being told of those the week before. Had the Tigers faced a more formidable opponent, perhaps one with a bullpen, Missouri fans would surely be in sky-is-falling mode today. Instead, following a late-inning offensive barrage, order appears to have been restored to the universe.
Though the score doesn’t show it, the Lincoln Blue Tigers gave Columbia’s black-and-gold version all they could handle Wednesday night before succumbing 10-2. Having averted disaster, Missouri (21-6) even got to walk away with a much needed confidence boost.
“We’re happy again,” second baseman Greg Folgia said, one night after he could barely come up with words to describe his displeasure with how he had played.
With seven runs in the last three innings, they had a reason to be happy.
The effort of Rick Zagone, the Tigers presumptive No. 2 starter heading in to the season, gave the team one more.
“Rick is real important,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “He’s a big game pitcher. He’s got a chance to pitch in the big leagues, and you can’t say that about everyone on our staff.”
After struggling all season with a sore shoulder and losing his weekend-rotation spot, Zagone threw well enough for Jamieson to expect him to be an asset for the rest of the season out of the bullpen, a development that bodes well for a group that has struggled of late.
With the way his starters have been going, however, Zagone might not need to be relied on heavily.
“We’ve got quality there, we just need to keep getting the starts that (Kyle) Gibson, (Ian) Berger and (Aaron) Crow have been giving us,” Jamieson said. “If we do that, we don’t need a lot of help in the bullpen.”