ST. LOUIS — The Missouri baseball team needed a spark. Coach Tim Jamieson was hoping a change of scenery — a game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis — would do the trick. It didn’t.
“We probably came away with less than what we walked into the ballpark with,” he said, following his team’s 6-2 loss Tuesday night against Illinois.
With 11 Tigers hailing from the St. Louis area, there was plenty of excitement about playing at the home of the 11-time world champion Cardinals.
“Every time I walk in here, you remember when you were little, you were just in awe of being in a big league stadium,” Tigers' left fielder Jake Ivory said. “Then when you get to come out and play on one, it’s definitely a cool thing.”
But the excitement leading up to the game translated to sloppy play, both at the plate and in the field. The Tigers committed five errors, ranging from a dropped attempt to throw out a stealing runner to a bobbled routine grounder. Jamieson expressed frustration with the team’s overall lack of focus.
“I think when you look at the at-bats that we had tonight, a lot of bad swings at pitches we shouldn’t be swinging at,” Jamieson said. “Defensively, we don’t make plays. If you’re not focused at one, generally you’re not focused in the other.”
Individual players in need of a spark also failed to find one. Under the bright lights of a major league stadium, third baseman Shane Segovia still couldn’t catch a break at the plate. The same look of dejection that he has worn following at-bats for weeks was there after his second strikeout Tuesday, with a pat on the back from teammate Mike McGraw the only consolation.
After the poor showing, Jamieson says he thinks it’s time for his team to get mad.
“I think the right emotion right now is to be angry,” he said. “Not angry that you’re losing, but be angry that we’re not playing better, that we’re not competing as well as we should be. Right now, it’s more apathy, and that’s not very productive.”
That apathy seemed evident following Tuesday’s loss. Outfielder Case Munson, who made a tremendous diving catch in the contest, was all smiles with reporters after the game despite the result.
“If we just kinda come out and play our game and relax, I think it’ll all go away,” Munson said of the team’s defensive struggles.
The Tigers won’t have much time to ramp up their intensity, as they travel this weekend to Athens, Ga. for a series against the Bulldogs with Southeastern Conference Tournament implications. Missouri currently holds the 12th and final tournament slot in the SEC, but their advantage over 13th place Georgia is only one game.