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Missouri baseball's Case Munson gives Tigers model for success against Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede

Thursday, May 1, 2014 | 9:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Case Munson saw the pitch from Tyler Beede, got his foot down, swung and connected. 

He felt nothing. 

The impact was pure, as was the ball's flight as it sailed over the high left field wall at Vanderbilt's Hawkins Field for a home run. 

That was April 13 of last year, in a game Missouri would go on to lose 12-1. But come Friday, the Tigers will again face Beede, who is considered to have some of the best pitches and the highest draft potential among college pitchers.

Munson is one of the few Missouri hitters to know success against the dominant right-hander. 

The junior outfielder remembers the day clearly. It was sunny and in the 70s in Nashville, so the all-turf playing surface warmed up and helped loosen up the players' muscles. 

Volunteer assistant Dan Pietroburgo threw his batting practice pitches a bit harder that day to get the players ready for Beede's heater, which sits in the mid- to upper-90s with tailing action. 

Munson led off the game for the Tigers. He fell into a 1-2 count, and Beede threw a change-up that dropped like it was weighted. Munson swung and missed.

"I came back to the dugout and I was just like, 'All right, guys. Fastball's pretty hard, curveball's really good and (the) change-up's really good," Munson said. 

With a pitcher like Beede, whose offspeed pitches handcuff all but the very best college hitters, the best strategy is to simply hit his fastball when you can. 

That's what Munson tried to do in his second at-bat. He took a change-up for strike one.

On the next pitch, Commodores catcher Spencer Navin set his glove at Munson's knees, but Beede's fastball was at the level of Munson's belt and right down the middle. 

Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said Munson is "blessed with bat speed," which enables him to catch up with pitches other hitters would be late on. 

"Case doesn't have any problem catching up to a good fastball," Jamieson said.

The ball shot off Munson's bat on a relatively low trajectory, one more fitting of a double than a home run. Munson thought it was going to hit the wall. 

Instead, it was caught by the net protecting the scoreboard. The ball fell to left fielder Jack Lupo, who caught it and threw it back in with no urgency. 

Munson tried to keep a straight face while rounding the bases, but he admits that he cracked a smile.

And he still had another hit off Beede to come: In the sixth inning, he got another fastball and shot it back up the middle for a single. The Tigers ended up getting three hits off Beede that day, and Munson had two of them. 

Unfortunately for Munson, the success of that day hasn't carried over to 2014. He had shoulder surgery over the summer and has struggled at the plate since. He's gone hitless in 16 at-bats, and his main playing time has been as a late-inning defensive replacement in the outfield.

"It's a humbling year," Munson said.

Munson's not going to start this year, but Jamieson didn't rule out using him as a pinch-hitter. 

If nothing else, he's an example of how the Tigers can combat Beede's at times overwhelming pitches: Have confidence, look for a fastball and get the foot down. 

And when he needs a mental boost, Munson can look back to that hit — a ball that, by all accounts, he obliterated.

It was one of just three home runs that Beede gave up in 2013. 

"Yeah," he said in between laughs. "It feels kind of good."

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.


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