OXFORD, Miss. — Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson took a chance on Friday afternoon.
Instead of sending ace Kyle Gibson to the mound against No. 3 seed Western Kentucky, Jamieson opted to start Nick Tepesch.
Jamieson lost his gamble, and the Hilltoppers beat Missouri 11-4 at Oxford University Stadium on the campus of Ole Miss in the first game of the NCAA Oxford Regional. Missouri will face Monmouth in the losers' bracket at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Western Kentucky scored six runs in the top of the first inning after shortstop Michael Liberto booted a ball that could have been a double play to put Tepesch one out away from getting out of the first inning.
“I thought it was a routine double play ball,” Jamieson said. “We make that play and the whole complexion changes."
Instead, the Hilltoppers sent 10 batters to the plate. Tepesch allowed three hits and walked two batters, and Western Kentucky took control of the game.
Outfielder Aaron Senne hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning that made the score 8-3 but the Tigers never got closer.
Jamieson said he stands by his decision to start Tepesch on Friday.
“Hindsight is 20-20,” Jamieson said. “We needed both of those guys to win games to win the regional. This was the right approach.”
The decision for Jamieson now is who to start in Saturday’s game in the losers' bracket. If Missouri loses Saturday, it is eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
But Jamieson said on Thursday when he announced his decision to start Tepesch on Friday that his team wasn’t here to win one game but a regional and that in order to win the regional, Gibson would have to beat Ole Miss.
“We don’t even know who we’re playing,” Jamieson said when asked if he would start Gibson on Saturday.
Jamieson removed Tepesch after the first inning after only throwing 35 pitches and used seven different pitchers to finish the remaining eight innings.
“We’re hoping Nick can come back on Sunday,” Jamieson said.
Missouri's Trevor Coleman, who played his first game in nearly a month after breaking his hand during the regular season, took the press conference podium with red eyes. Coleman served as the Tigers' designated hitter but went 0-for-4.
“I felt like I saw the ball well,” Coleman said. “The hand wasn’t an issue.”
For the fourth consecutive game, the Missouri offense only got five hits.
Things got so bad on Friday that Western Kentucky put in third-string catcher C.J. Wamsley. The 240-pounder hit a double down the right field line, chugging around first base before sliding into second base to a standing ovation from the fans.