Familiar problems plague Missouri baseball in loss to Southern Illinois

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 11:50 p.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES — Not much went right for the Missouri baseball team Tuesday.

It started when the planned venue, T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, had unplayable conditions that forced the team to move its game to nearby Lindenwood University in St. Charles.

The dreary day included a 20-minute rain delay followed by cold, windy conditions, and senior second baseman Shane Segovia came out of the game in the sixth inning after making an awkward play tagging a baserunner.

Even Lindenwood ballpark was not cooperating, as bulbs in the outfield light arrays would periodically stop working, casting the game in a dimmer glow.

Missouri hit a low when it fell behind Southern Illinois 4-2 in the top of the ninth inning. The Salukis held the Tigers scoreless in the final frame to win 4-2. 

Southern Illinois relief pitcher Lee Weld earned the win. Missouri closer Keaton Steele took the loss. 

In the ninth, Steele allowed a hard-hit single to Will Farmer who then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Parker Osborne singled Farmer home, and after Cody Daily singled, Ryan Casillas hit a double to the right-field wall to score Osborne.

Missouri showed hope in the bottom of the inning with walks by Jake Ring and Eric Anderson to open the inning.

That was fleeting. Josh Lester popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt, and Kendall Keeton then grounded into a double play to end the game. The Tigers (13-14) dropped back under .500.

“We don’t know how to score runs,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’ve got guys in scoring position, and we don’t know how to score runs. Makes it really tough on our pitchers.”

Multiple examples earlier in the game supported Jamieson’s point. Anderson started the game with a home run to left for Missouri, but after that, the Tigers’ offense consisted of several snuffed-out rallies.

Missouri loaded the bases in the second inning with one out, but Anderson struck out and Lester flied out to left field. They put men on second and third with no outs in the next inning, and three consecutive popups ended that threat.

Missouri’s offensive failures forced the game into a pitcher’s duel. Peter Fairbanks and Breckin Williams threw well for the Tigers, as did Austin Tribby.

But the Salukis tied the game at 2-2 against Tribby in the seventh inning. Tribby struck out Welch on an outside breaking ball, but the pitch got past Missouri catcher Jack Klages and Welch advanced to first. Welch made it to second on a sacrifice bunt then scored on a single. It was the second unearned run of the day against Missouri.

Not everything went completely wrong for Missouri: the Tigers got offensive production, especially from the bottom of the order, to make the rallies possible in the first place. The last five hitters in Missouri’s order — Segovia, Logan Pearson, Ryan Howard, Klages and Ring — all had a hit apiece.

“I feel like everybody’s starting to contribute, and that’s going to help us out in conference play,” Missouri designated hitter Dylan Kelly said.

But other than that, it was a familiar story of struggle for the Tigers: strong pitching but a lack of backup from the bats.

Missouri is scheduled to play Illinois tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.

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