The first inning was all it needed.
At the annual Black and Gold baseball game Friday at Taylor Stadium, the Black team scored all its runs in the first inning of a 5-4 victory against the Gold team.
The Tigers formed teams for even competition, and 14 pitchers got a chance to throw at least one inning in the nine-inning game.
Zane Taylor, the No. 2 man in the Black team’s lineup, had the first of his team’s five hits in the first inning. Cody Ehlers and Brad Flanders hit RBI doubles, and Kyle Johnson singled in Flanders for the fifth run.
Ehlers, a first baseman, led both teams with three hits.
“I’m real pleased,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’ve been swinging the bats really well, and the pitchers are throwing strikes.”
Ehlers said team discipline on this year’s squad has set it apart from previous teams.
“Being this early it’s impressive,” Ehlers said.
Last season Missouri finished 36-22 and made the Big 12 Conference tournament for the first time since 2000. It also advanced to regional play for the first time since 1996.
“Last year we put ourselves on the map making it to regionals,” Taylor said. “But, we’re not satisfied with that. It’s just a starting point.”
The Tigers will develop a depth chart and figure out what roles each pitcher is going to fill, Jamieson said.
“I want to establish the team identity,” Jamieson said. “Then we can figure who we are, and what we do best, and gear ourselves toward what we are best at.”
The leadership roles of the eight seniors have also become important.
“All eight do a good job of taking turns, stepping up and providing leadership,” Jamieson said.
Talk is swirling in the Tigers’ clubhouse about Hunter Mence, a standout freshman from Liberty High who pitches and plays first base.
“He’s a smart baseball player,” Taylor said. “He’s a great hitter and really mature as a freshman.
“He’s very good on the plate and at the mound. He’s a good two-way player.”