COLUMBIA — Ugly.
That’s what the Missouri baseball team’s statistics were this year.
The Tigers finished last in hitting in Big 12 Conference games, finished fifth in pitching, finished sixth in team fielding and often used its bullpen to pitch an entire game.
Only two hitters finished with a batting average over .300 and only outfielder Greg Folgia hit more than six home runs.
Yet, at the end of the season, Missouri (35-26) stood in third place in the conference and played for the Big 12 tournament championship Sunday.
“If people look at our numbers, they’re going to underestimate us,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’ve had timely hitting, we’ve had timely pitching and when we’ve pitched well enough, the offense has scored enough runs.”
Missouri earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and plays No. 3 seed Western Kentucky at 3 p.m. Friday in Oxford, Mississippi.
To win games, the Tigers took what was given to them and took advantage of it. When Missouri put runners on base, the Tigers usually were able to send them home.
"You should see where we finished in the timely hitting department,” said outfielder Greg Folgia, who leads the team in batting average, RBIs and home runs.
Missouri didn’t allow teams to win games they had no business winning. When leading after the seventh inning, Missouri finished 28-2 this season.
Jamieson said the plays that make SportsCenter don’t win baseball games. There just aren’t that many great plays being made in a game.
“You just have to make the plays you’re supposed to make,” Jamieson said. “It’s important because when you make mistakes defensively you give teams more chances and it’s a percentage game. The more chances you have, the more likely you are to give up runs. “
Jamieson said that when Missouri wasn’t learning from the constant mistakes it made on the field, it led to big innings for opponents and a bad attitude for the Tigers.
“The not learning from mistakes was frustrating, but that went away awhile ago,” Jamieson said.
Missouri learned what it had in the lineup and what it could do offensively to support the pitching staff. That’s when things started to work for Missouri as a team.
“We just don’t have anyone like A-Rod who can drive in runs consistently,” Folgia said. “We just do the little things right and let athleticism take over the rest.”
Folgia hopes the teams in the NCAA tournament overlook the Missouri offense.
“We do a good job of moving runners over,” Folgia said. “Starting towards the end we got big hits.”
Going to Oxford, Jamieson likes what he sees in his team. A team that is winning consistently, that has good pitching when starting pitchers Kyle Gibson and Nick Tepesch perform their best and a team that doesn’t make silly mistakes.
What will it take for the Tigers to win the Oxford regional?
“I think we’ve got to score runs and get hot offensively,” Jamieson said. “We don’t have the depth to make mistakes. The guys who are supposed to get it done need to get it done.”