Missouri baseball team drops eighth straight

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 10:28 p.m. CDT; updated 11:35 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Missouri senior right-hander Brad Buehler pitched the fifth and sixth innings, allowing no runs, but letting up four hits to SIU-Edwardsville on Wednesday at Taylor Stadium.

COLUMBIA — The blows came one after another for the Missouri baseball team on its two-week road trip.

They kept coming Wednesday night back at Taylor Stadium.

Silly base running. Hits into double plays. An inability to maintain momentum. In a 7-2 loss to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, each mistake battered a team already displaying numerous bruises.

The nonconference matchup against SIUE (12-19) was supposed to be a break for the Tigers (13-20, 1-7), a moment to catch their breath and figure things out.

But when Missouri returns to Big 12 Conference play in a three-game series against Kansas this weekend, it will have lost eight consecutive games.

"Guys have to go up to the plate and get it done at this point of the year," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. "We had opportunities, but we continue to squander."

They squandered an easy run in the second inning. Jonah Schmidt even crossed home plate but not before Jesse Santo was thrown out for the third out trying to reach an extra base.

They squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fourth inning. Santo hit a grounder straight to second base, and SIUE turned the double play. 

They squandered two lead-off singles in the seventh inning. By the time Brannon Champagne saw the second baseman catch Blake Brown's line drive, he was halfway to second base. Another double play.

The Tigers understand what they're supposed to do. But with that gap between saying and doing comes a sinking feeling. In the aftermath Wednesday, designated hitter Conner Mach called baseball a funny game and a pretty humbling one, too. Especially against a weaker opponent, Schmidt added.

"It's really tough," Schmidt said. "If you let a team play with you like that, they're going to think they can beat you. The longer they stay in the game, the more they think they can."

After the blow of getting swept in two conference series, Missouri tried to fight back against SIUE. But the team got too aggressive, especially running bases. It only led to more blows.

"I could say that they were pressing, or I could say that they made really bad decisions," Jamieson said. "The line-drive double play, that's bad base running. Getting thrown out at third when we don't score the run, that's bad base running."

Missouri has already played three of the conference's top four teams, all of which are ranked. Besides a series against No. 10 Texas A&M, the road gets easier from here.

But not if the Tigers continue playing this way. Not if they keep leaving each other on base. They said they're trying to be supportive of one another. At some point, getting stranded gets frustrating.

"It's been the story of our year so far," Schmidt said. "We haven't been very good with runners in scoring position. We need people to start stepping up and getting the key hit."

Kansas (16-17, 6-6) comes to Columbia on Friday. Jamieson said it's not as if Missouri is without motivation. They came to his mind and out of his mouth quickly. Division I baseball. A great environment. An arch rival.

"The sun's going to come out tomorrow," he said. "If that can't motivate you, it's difficult to find anything else that will."

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