Late arrivals to Taylor Stadium missed the majority of the offense Tuesday night. Cody Ehlers’ two-run home run in the first inning was the difference as the Tigers defeated Western Illinois 2-1.
With two outs, Ehlers hit a ball to right field that easily cleared the fence and drove in Zane Taylor, who led off with a single. It was Ehlers’ third home run of the season.
“Who would’ve guessed that would’ve been the only two runs of the game,” Ehlers said. “If that’s all you need, then that’s all you need.”
MU improved to 9-2. The Leathernecks are 4-5.
Missouri freshman Nathan Culp shut down the Leathernecks in his first start, pitching six innings and allowing one run on one hit.
“He wasn’t as good tonight as he has been in previous games, but he pitched well,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. “It shows that for a freshman he’s going to be a factor for us.”
Western Illinois’ run came in the third when Ryan Cougill hit a sacrifice fly that drove in Pete Tronick. Culp ended the threat during the next at bat by striking out Blake Schultz.
“I’d been throwing pretty well,” Culp said. “It was nice to get out there and start a game and get the win.”
Mark Alexander entered in the seventh and allowed a walk and a single to put Western Illinois’ Kyle Malan in scoring position. Alexander said he relaxed after Ehlers made a sliding catch on an attempted bunt and retired the next two batters.
Tuesday was Alexander’s sixth appearance and his team-leading third save.
“(Alexander) has been outstanding,” Jamieson said. “If we keep playing two- or one-run games, we have to keep going with the horses.”
After the first inning Leatherneck starter Tom Pazdernik took control and allowed one more hit before leaving in the seventh.
After a strong offensive performance in Sunday’s game against Youngstown State, Missouri struggled at the plate.
Jamieson said he thinks the team’s lack of focus has hurt the offense.
“If you look at all the weak outs we had on first pitches, that’s just a lack of focus,” Jamieson said. “The thing about this club is when we want to do it we’ll dial it up and have great at bats.”
The Tigers threatened to score in the eighth when Bo Davis led off with a walk and moved to second when Ryan Rallo singled. After Ehlers grounded out, though, Cougill snagged Lee Laskowski’s line drive and touched third base for a double play.