Columbia — It is never a good sign for any team when its star pitcher has to come out of the game in the middle of an at-bat due to an injury.
Luckily for the Missouri Tigers, Jeff Emens is in their bullpen.
The Tigers (6-5) have looked to the right-handed senior to fix their problems all season, and Friday's game against the Charlotte 49ers (9-5) was no different.
With the Tigers up 4-3 in the top of the fifth inning, Missouri starter Eric Anderson suffered an injury that forced him to leave the game with the bases loaded and a 2-1 count on 49ers first baseman Corbin Shive.
Emens took the mound and got Shive to ground out to third, getting the Tigers out of the inning and killing any hopes Charlotte had of launching a two-out rally.
"Entering the game in that sort of situation is not the ideal situation that you want to be in, but you just have to go in and throw strikes. You can't walk in that run," Emens said. "You just have to try and change speeds and try and keep the ball down, and thankfully I was able to do that."
Emens played the rest of the game, and Missouri beat Charlotte 10-4 at Taylor Stadium.
Emens has been lights out for the Tigers to start the season — the one run he allowed in Friday's ninth inning was just his second all season.
Missouri third baseman Conner Mach, who went 2-4 and led the Tigers with two RBIs, said Emens' performance was anything that he and his teammates hadn't seen before.
"Jeff has been big all year for us. He is really fun to play behind," Mach said. " He came out and threw a heck of a game for us."
Friday's game was the first in a four-game series against Charlotte, and Missouri manager Tim Jamieson said that Emens' outing will help the Tigers in the rest of the series.
"He kept his focus, threw strikes and it was great that he was able to go the whole game for us," Jamieson said. "Only having to go to the bullpen once in the first game of a four-game series is really big."
Missouri is looking to avenge last year's disappointing performance against the 49ers where they lost three out of four games in Charlotte, including a 22-7 loss in the final game of the series.
"We have a lot of aggression from last year, we went down there and they put a pretty good whooping on us," Mach said. "This game set a good tone for the rest of the series. We need to get on them early and not let off the gas."
Missouri will play a double header Saturday against Charlotte starting at 1:00 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.