COLUMBIA — Something changed for the Missouri baseball team in the fifth inning of its 3-2 win against Kansas on Saturday.
With two outs, Missouri finally caught a break. A wild pitch by Kansas pitcher Tanner Pope led to the Tigers' first run of the game. A moment later, senior Jonah Schmidt got an RBI hit with a runner in scoring position, something the team has struggled to do over the past month.
Before Saturday's win, Missouri (14-21, 2-8) had lost nine straight games, tying the longest losing streak in program history. The Tigers had also lost six straight games against rival Kansas (17-18, 7-7).
Early in the game, the Tigers were making the same mistakes they had been making during the losing streak. In the top of the first inning, a fielding error by pitcher Matt Stites led to a run.
In the bottom of the first, two Missouri players reached base, but both were called out after base-running errors.
"It felt like, here we go again, in the first inning," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said.
That 'here we go again' feeling hadn't gone away during the fifth inning. Just before Missouri scored its first run, a base-running error between third base and home plate cost Missouri an out. But after Schmidt's RBI hit, the game was tied 2-2.
In the ninth inning, the Tigers finally broke the tie when sophomore Blake Brown hit a single to right field, driving in sophomore Brannon Champagne for the winning run.
"That's all I was trying to do right there," Brown said. "I knew I didn't have to hit a ball in the gap, didn't need to hit a home run. I just had to put it in play, and he would score."
The relief of breaking a near-record losing streak felt even better since it came against Kansas.
"I absolutely love playing KU, and I love beating KU," senior pitcher Phil McCormick said. "There's nothing better."
McCormick pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for Missouri to keep the score tied.
"We've just been trying to stick together and stay positive," he said about dealing with the losing streak. "That's the biggest thing about digging out of a hole, you have to stick together and can't be negative."
Now, the Tigers turn their attention toward the Sunday's game against Kansas and try to dig even further out of the hole.
"Hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and be a little more relaxed," Jamieson said. "I think some of the mistakes of the past couple days were no question from being too tense."
Brown agrees that Saturday's win will help the team relax.
"Baseball is a game of what have you done for me lately," Brown said. "There's going to be pressure everyday, but I think getting the monkey off our back will be awesome and allow us to come out and play more relaxed."
Missouri plays the final game of its series against Kansas on Sunday at 1 p.m. Kansas has not won a three-game series in Columbia since 1983.