LAWRENCE, Kan. — Jesse Santo hopped on his right leg for a few seconds before falling to his knees during an at-bat in the third inning of Missouri baseball’s game.
Santo was grimacing in pain from a foul ball that hit him in the inside of his left knee. As soon as he fell, coach Tim Jamieson and trainer Matt Long came out to check on him.
Santo stood up and walked around with a noticeable limp. It looked like he might come out, but Jamieson and Long went back to the dugout and Santo finished his at-bat during Sunday's game against Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.
Santo, the third baseman for the game, has not gotten a lot of playing time recently and was not going to let his day end prematurely.
“They just came out there and asked me what happened,” Santo said. “I told them I was all right. I want to play. When I’m in there, it’ll take a lot to get me out.”
The team was glad Santo stayed in the game. With the game tied at three in the fourth inning, Santo came up again and laced a double into right-center field. One run scored easily, and Dane Opel was determined to score a second one. Opel collided with the catcher at the plate, just beating the ball to make the score 5-3.
Opel got up quickly after the collision, saying later that it looked worse than it was.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Opel said. “I had a helmet on, he had a chest protector. He was blocking the plate, so I tried to slide as late as possible. I’m going to come back no matter what. It would take a broken bone.”
Jamieson said he was happy with how his players responded to painful situations, but he expects his players to be tough.
“It would almost have to be broken for a guy to come out,” Jamieson said. “Very seldom do you see a guy come out with a bruise. It would have to be a pretty serious injury.”
In baseball, you have to be tough, physically and mentally.
Although the pain in Santo’s left knee was bad, the pain of being swept by Kansas was worse as the Tigers dropped the finale 10-9 in ten innings.
Santo said the team must not let the memory of this series linger.
“We have a tough series coming up next weekend,” Santo said. “We’ve just got to focus on those games now.”
Missouri (24-22, 7-13 Big 12) starts a three-game series with Nebraska at 7 p.m. Friday at Taylor Stadium. Missouri has six conference games left and would have to win all six to not finish conference play with a losing record.