OXFORD, Miss. — Missouri senior Ian Berger won’t want to remember the last pitch of his college baseball career.
Western Kentucky outfielder Chad Cregar hit the pitch about 450 feet onto a tennis court outside of Oxford-University Stadium to help the Hilltoppers beat Missouri 11-6 on Sunday, eliminating the Tigers from the NCAA Oxford Regional.
“I think we faced a very good team today,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “They had a plan and they were focused. The three-run home run sucked the air out of the sails with two outs and two strikes. Seven-0 is a lot different than 4-0.”
Berger gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings before coach Tim Jamieson mercifully pulled Berger who ripped off his glove before entering the dugout. Cregar’s home run came with Missouri on the verge of escaping the inning.
“Ian wasn’t bad,” Tigers catcher Trevor Coleman said. “They had a bunch of Babe Ruth’s. That’s one of the best hitting teams we’ve run into this year.”
The Hilltoppers (41-19) scored seven runs in two innings. Missouri (35-27) rallied for two runs in the top of the third but left nine men on base in the three innings.
“I don’t know how many people we left on base, but we left a lot of guys out there in clutch situations,” Tigers outfielder Aaron Senne said.
Senne went 6-for-12 with seven RBIs and two home runs in the Oxford Regional.
“We didn’t get the big hit when we had two guys on,” Senne said.
After the Hilltoppers scored three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Missouri’s offense went silent until the ninth inning and Western Kentucky rolled on to play another game in the regional.
By the top of the eighth inning, Jamieson sat in the dugout with his arms crossed and his legs stretched out. While Missouri has made a regional for the past seven seasons, the Tigers have only won one of them.
“I’m not satisfied, but you can’t get to a super regional if you don’t make a regional,” Jamieson said.
Next season, Missouri faces the possibility of replacing every position player and ace pitcher Kyle Gibson. Missouri started four seniors in the field on Sunday and three of the bullpen's key pitchers are also seniors. The other four players are draft eligible juniors three of which are expected to be taken early in the MLB draft on June 9.
Coleman is one of the draft eligible juniors.
“For me, I don’t think it's hit me that the season’s over,” Coleman said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. For me, the draft’s a crap shoot.”
Jamieson doesn’t know how many players will return. Freshmen Connor Mach (second base), Garrison McLagan (designated hitter), Ryan Gebhart (outfield) and Ben Turner (first base) all got playing experience this season. Connor Mach replaced his brother and senior Kyle Mach after he recorded a double in his final collegiate at bat.