COLUMBIA — Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson leaned up against the dugout wall, hands behind his back, staring straight ahead, looking past his players leaning up against the railing.
The bottom of the ninth inning was about to get underway, his team's final chance to tie up a back-and-forth game. He didn't say a word.
Missouri dropped its final nonconference game of the season Tuesday night against Southeast Missouri State, the 231st-ranked team in the country, according to the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index. Following the 9-7 loss, Jamieson said it was another case of his players lacking focus for a midweek game.
"Pregame I didn’t sense it," Jamieson said. "Anytime that happens, it’s lack of focus, not good enough focus. I can’t explain it."
Jamieson has been at a loss throughout the season, which is on pace to be his worst at Missouri since his first season in 1995. Missouri signed Jamieson to a contract extension through 2015 following the team's Big 12 Conference tournament title last season.
On several occasions this season, he has cited his team's lack of focus as a significant hurdle, even referring to his team's "apathy" following a midweek loss to Illinois in early April. He hopes that with nonconference play finished, intensity level won't be an issue down the stretch.
"Fortunately, we’re done with nonconference," Jamieson said. "But we talked about the future. When you’ve got the SEC patch on your sleeve, it’s a big deal for teams to come in here and beat you guys. We have to play with the same energy as we play in conference."
The Tigers' pitching staff struggled from the outset against the Redhawks. Freshman starter Alec Rash, a second-round Major League draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies, lacked control while allowing three earned runs on four hits in only three innings.
But even after the Missouri offense dug the team out of an early hole, the pitching staff surrendered the lead on two more occasions. Breckin Williams, who allowed the go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth, took the loss.
"Guys gotta step up from the mound and put up a zero," Jamieson said. "We didn’t do it from the leadoff man on. We did not pitch well. Fifteen hits and behind in the count from the pitcher’s side."
Missouri will travel to College Station, Texas this weekend to fight for its postseason life against Texas A&M. The Tigers, who have three conference series remaining, are currently tied for 11th in the Southeastern Conference. Only the top 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.
Jamieson was unsure whether outfielder Case Munson, who suffered a shoulder injury while diving for a ball in the first inning, would be available to play this weekend. Rash also suffered an elbow injury.