COLUMBIA-After surrendering five runs to the No. 1 Miami in the first three innings of the game, the Missouri baseball team made a comeback in the top of the eighth Saturday in its NCAA regional tournament at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Fla.
First baseman Steve Gray hit a two-run home run over the left-center field wall off Miami reliever Kyle Bellamy to tie the game at 5. Entering Saturday, Bellamy had appeared in 36 of Miami’s 56 games and was 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA.
With the momentum suddenly on the Tigers’ side to begin the bottom of the inning, left fielder Aaron Senne dove headlong toward the infield for a ball off Miami’s Dennis Raben’s bat. The ball struck Senne’s glove then Senne corralled it in his bare hand. Senne jumped up with a smile and a fist pump. Raben was called out.
The call went the Tigers’ way, but the rest of the inning belonged to Miami.
After watching their coach’s heated argument with the umpires result only in a confirmation of the original decision, the next three Hurricanes batters reached base bringing the winning run home.
“They’re a good ball club, that’s why they’re No. 1 in the country right now,” Missouri Assistant Coach Even Pratte said in a radio interview after the game. “They’ve won a lot a games this year and proved that they’re winners and that we came up a little short today.”
The 6-5 loss mean’s the Tigers will play in an elimination game at 11 a.m. today against Mississippi. The Rebels defeated Bethune-Cookman 14-1 on Saturday.
If Missouri defeats Ole Miss, it will have to defeat Miami twice to advance to the super regional round of the tournament. The first of those games is scheduled for 3 p.m. today with a potential deciding game to be played at 6 p.m. Monday.
While the Missouri baseball team’s undefeated No. 1 starter Aaron Crow sat on the bench Saturday, a day after throwing his fourth shutout of the season against Ole Miss in the team’s opening game, the undefeated ace of the Miami Hurricanes staff took the mound against the Tigers.
Miami chose to not start Chris Hernandez (11-0) in its opening victory against Bethune-Cookman. The freshman went 7 1/3 innings, giving up three runs to the Tigers in the fifth inning.
Missouri starter Rick Zagone gave up all five Hurricane runs in his 4 1/3 innings of work. The junior threw just 43 strikes in 78 pitches.
“Rick was a little behind there on some hitters most of the day really, and once they got a few hits off him and scored a few runs, he kind of buckled down a little bit, but he probably had his B game today,” Pratte said.
Kyle Gibson (9-3) got his second loss in relief while Ryan Lollis and Kyle Mach both had three hits in the game. Lollis has seven hits in nine at-bats in the regional.
Hickman graduate Blake Tekotte, who started in center field for Miami, was 1-for-5. The junior, who is No. 85 on Baseball America’s list of MLB prospects for next week’s draft, hit a two-run home run off Zagone in the second inning.
Tekotte has started every game this season for the Hurricanes and is hitting .370 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.
— Missourian reporter Rachel Crader contributed to this report