COLUMBIA — Win every inning.
This is the simple to explain but difficult to execute goal Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson gives his team game after game.
This weekend, the Tigers nearly pulled off the feat against No. 5 Nebraska.
In the first inning of the first game of this weekend’s series, the Cornhuskers put up a lone run against Missouri ace Aaron Crow that went unanswered by the Tigers until the seventh inning of Friday’s game. Nebraska scored in eight other innings in three games against Missouri, and with the exception of a meaningless ninth inning run in Saturday’s 22-9 blow out, Missouri responded each time by scoring as many or more runs as its opponent in the bottom half of the inning.
“That’s important. Any time a team scores like that in the top of an inning, you want to come back and answer right away,” Missouri first baseman Steve Gray said. “Our coach is always saying try to win every inning, which is important because any momentum they start getting, if you come right back with the same or more runs which we did tonight, every time they scored we came back with more, it just kills all the momentum they get and just totally takes the wind out of the their sails.”
The Cornhuskers scored one run in three different innings of Sunday’s game, but Gray and Missouri answered with multiple runs each time and completed a dominating sweep of Nebraska with a 7-3 victory Sunday at Taylor Stadium.
“We just finally found our groove hitting the ball, and don’t want to lose it,” said left fielder Aaron Senne, who scored three of Missouri’s 37 runs against Nebraska. “If you lose it, it could be gone, so if we come out and keep putting runs up every inning or keep pushing to put up runs every inning, we’ll do well in the (Big 12 Conference) tournament.”
Missouri’s revitalized offense was matched this weekend by a pitching staff that seems to have finally found some order after a season of shuffling positions and roles.
“You want to play your best baseball at the end, and I think we’re doing that right now,” said Missouri coach Tim Jamieson. “We certainly got our pitching figured out with this team what’s best for us, and it’s a good time of the year to do that, too.”
Jamieson has determined that sending Kyle Gibson, who has started 12 games for the Tigers this season after closing last year, back to the bullpen is what is best for team, which has seen many games lost by relievers this season.
Gibson pitched the final three innings of Sunday’s game to earn a low-pressure save, but he is expected to be called on to finish close games when the Tigers start play in the Big 12 tournament against Texas at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. The Tigers (16-11 in the Big 12 will enter the eight-team tournament seeded fourth at 37-17 overall.
Jamieson pointed out after the game that his team’s late season surge (after falling out of the top 10 in all the national polls) means it is just two victories shy of it’s total at this point last season.
“To come on strong like this, I think proves to everybody that the rankings were legitimate, and that we still have a lot to look forward to,” he said.