COLUMBIA — The crowd had cheered, the Missouri baseball team was in the dugout and Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll” was blaring from the speakers.
It turned out that the sixth inning wasn’t over, though. Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal had foul-tipped Tigers pitcher Breckin Williams’ 1-2 pitch, and though catcher Jack Klages showed home plate umpire Danny Everett the ball in his glove, Everett would eventually rule that the ball hit the dirt before Klages caught it.
Williams eventually struck Bernal out on an inside breaking ball. But it was just one of many examples of Razorbacks hitters refusing to go down quietly Friday.
Missouri’s 4-0 loss to No. 24 Arkansas hinged on a rally that began with two outs in the fifth and ended with the Razorbacks taking an insurmountable three-run lead.
“I think right now, any runs that are scored against us are frustrating, just because of our inability to score runs,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “But with two outs, you’ve got to find a way to keep it less than three.”
That rally happened in the fifth inning with Missouri (20-32, 6-23 Southeastern Conference) starter Peter Fairbanks on the mound. The sophomore right-hander struggled to control his pitches and put Arkansas hitters away on Friday night — he was past the 70-pitch mark by the fifth inning.
Still, Fairbanks had executed when he needed to and held the Razorbacks scoreless through the first four frames.
He retired the first two batters of the fifth on flyouts and put two strikes on Bernal. But Bernal took an inside pitch up the middle for a single, and Razorbacks designated hitter Clark Eagan hit the next pitch for another base hit.
Arkansas left fielder Joe Serrano doubled to drive Bernal home, and center fielder Andrew Benintendi singled to score Serrano and Eagan. What was shaping up to be a much-needed easy inning for Fairbanks had turned into an offensive outburst.
“They were up and hittable pitches instead of where I needed to make them, effective and down,” Fairbanks said.
One run would have been too much for the Tigers, who struggled again at the plate. Arkansas starter Chris Oliver allowed two hits and no runs in six innings, and relievers Zach Jackson and Michael Gunn kept Missouri scoreless for the remainder of the game.
The Tigers will try to halt their 14-game conference losing streak on Saturday when Keaton Steele takes the mound for the season finale scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.