COLUMBIA — If playing a 20th-ranked Mississippi squad on the road at raucous Swayze Field wasn't enough, an injury to its ace pitcher made sure the odds were fully against the Missouri baseball team on Friday evening.
Junior right-hander Brett Graves was scratched from his start when an errant throw hit him in the side of his head during pre-game warm-ups. John Miles got the ball instead, and while he put up a strong 7 1/3 inning effort on the mound, the Tigers (11-10, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) couldn't come back from an early deficit and lost 4-3.
The Rebels didn't waste time scoring runs. Mississippi's Austin Anderson hit a two-run home run and Sikes Orvis hit a solo shot, both in the first inning to establish a quick 3-0 lead. Mississippi expanded its lead to 4-0 in the third inning when Braxton Lee singled a run home.
Missouri got a run back in the third, though, when Keaton Steele doubled, advanced to third and scored on a passed ball. The Tigers continued their comeback push in the eighth inning, as an RBI double from Kendall Keeton and an RBI single from Shane Segovia narrowed the deficit to 4-3.
However, Missouri went scoreless in the top of the ninth and lost for the third straight time in conference play.
Graves' status is tentative for the rest of the series. Team spokesman Shawn Davis said the right-hander didn't sustain a concussion and that his main affliction was dizziness. The Tigers play Mississippi again at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.