Lapses in judgment help sink Missouri baseball in Sunday loss

Sunday, March 9, 2014 | 8:29 p.m. CDT; updated 6:51 a.m. CDT, Monday, March 10, 2014

COLUMBIA — There was no warm, fuzzy feeling to be found among the Missouri baseball team, nothing lingering from the series clincher on Saturday, after Sunday's 2-1 loss to Southern Mississippi. 

The defensive debacle left nothing but disappointment as an option. Although they didn't allow any unearned runs, the Tigers made six errors as a team. They came out flat at the plate early on and managed only four hits the entire game. 

"(It was) as poorly as we can play and still be in the game," head coach Tim Jamieson said.

There were bad throws from third baseman Zach Lavy and shortstop Ryan Howard, grounders muffed by Howard and second baseman Josh Lester, a mishandled single by Jake Ivory in right field and an errant pickoff throw from pitcher Griffin Goodrich. 

The Tigers have expressed optimism about their defense this year, and while they were solid in the first two games of the series, Sunday's loss did a number on that positive feeling.

"It's disappointing, because the thing we wanted to do is at least come out of this weekend having a pretty good idea for conference (play) starting," Jamieson said. "Now, the infield situation is one (where) we're kind of back to square one."

Missouri (6-7) can certainly be happy about the performance from its pitchers on Sunday. Eric Anderson got the start and threw four solid innings.

His only major misstep was in the fourth inning, when an inside fastball to Bradley Roney might have caught too much of the inside part of the plate. Roney's swing sent the ball off the back wall of the Tigers' bullpen in left field for a two-run home run. 

Anderson left after that inning. There were four more errors to come from Missouri, but the Tigers' bullpen worked around all of them. 

Ryan Phillips, who replaced Anderson, had particularly tough luck, as errors by Howard and Lester quickly gave him men on first and second. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, but Austin Tribby came in and induced a popout and flyout to end the inning. 

Two more errors came with Goodrich on the mound, but he didn't allow a hit and completed two scoreless innings. 

However, the unyielding performance of the bullpen arms wasn't paired with a similar showing from Missouri's bats.

Though they were facing Golden Eagles (7-9) starter Cameron Giannini for the second time of the year — the first on opening day — any advantage in preparation was nowhere to be seen. 

"We were kind of backwards today," Anderson said. "Swinging at stuff we shouldn't be swinging at, taking pitches that we should be swinging at. The adjustments came too late."

Jamieson said Giannini looked better then the first time the Tigers faced him, that he was better at mixing and locating his pitches.

And when Missouri did get men on base, they often couldn't keep them there. Lester and Brett Peel were both thrown out trying to steal second, and when Lavy singled in the bottom of the third, he was subsequently picked off.

"Getting thrown out stealing, yes, that happens," Jamieson said. "But the pickoff, that was a mental error." 

That lapse was indicative of the team's general lack of intensity and focus on Sunday. For an underdog squad in what's considered one of the toughest conferences in the country, that sort of thing can't keep happening. 

"Lack of focus, I guess you can call it, and will to compete," catcher Dylan Kelly said. "But we need to keep getting better, because we don't have room for that kind of baseball today."

Missouri has one more series before it begins Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers are scheduled to face Alcorn State at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, then will begin a three-game series with Tennessee on Friday. 

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