COLUMBIA – You only needed to see Missouri’s first and last plate appearances Wednesday to know what kind of night it was for the Tigers.
Right fielder Blake Brown struck out looking to start the game, and eight innings later, center fielder Brannon Champagne struck out looking to end the game.
A day after its pitchers dominated Gonzaga’s hitters, Missouri’s offense struggled, generating only one run in a 4-1 home loss to the Bulldogs.
“The difference in the game was how competitive we were not at the plate,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “I thought we pitched it pretty well and played good defense, but we were just very not competitive, very passive at the plate.”
It was his players’ passivity that most upset Jamieson. The Missouri (5-8) players had more strikeouts looking (6) than they did hits (5). Brown said he felt largely at fault for the team’s performance.
“We came out a little flat … but I’d blame that on myself honestly,” Brown said. “In the lead off spot, I set the tone in a bad way. I came out and struck out looking and didn’t respond positively like I should’ve, so I take full responsibility for what happened tonight.”
Jamieson said no one player could be singled out as responsible for Missouri’s poor performance. In his opinion, the whole lineup was bad.
“When you’re playing this game it’s who can deliver the punch rather than who takes the punch. We were just taking punches,” first baseman Scott Sommerfeld said. “That’s a big part of baseball, who can put pressure on the other team, and they did it to us and we didn’t do it to them.”
Missouri played from behind the entire game. Senior Brad Buehler, who lasted 3 1/3 innings, gave up three hits to Gonzaga (5-6) in the first inning. The Bulldogs took advantage of a couple wild pitches and a fielding error by Missouri, scoring three unearned runs.
Buehler settled down after the first inning, not giving up another hit. Gonzaga went on to score one more run off Missouri junior pitcher Jeff Emens in the top of the seventh inning, giving the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead.
Missouri’s lone offensive highlight came in the bottom of the seventh, when Sommerfeld scored an unearned run.
The Tiger offense won’t have to wait long to redeem itself. Missouri plays a four-game home series against Le Moyne this weekend. Despite Wednesday's offensive struggles, Jamieson said he feels good about the team heading into the weekend.
“I finally felt like we’re starting to pitch it better and that’s really the key to the entire season, we got to pitch it better,” Jamieson said. “I think our mindset is pretty good, just obviously we need to be more aggressive.”