A night after Max Scherzer and Michael Cole threw Missouri’s first no-hitter in 24 years, Nathan Culp knew he wasn’t going to repeat the act.
He just wanted to help the Tigers set some history of a different kind.
Culp pitched seven strong innings to lead the Tigers to a 7-2 win against Texas Tech on Saturday night at Taylor Stadium. The victory gives MU a 5-0 conference record for the first time since – well, since the season of the team’s last no-hitter, 1981.
But there wouldn’t be a no-hitter Saturday.
Texas Tech lead-off hitter Cody Fuller hit the game’s second pitch down the left-field line for a single.
“I give up a lot of hits, just because I’m trying to stick them in the zone,” Culp said.
After Fuller’s single, Chris Williams bunted into a double play. That was a recurring theme throughout the night: Culp would get into a bit of trouble and then work his way out with little or no damage sustained.
“That was the biggest thing,” he said. “The most runs they scored in an inning was one, and we’ll win a lot of games like that.”
For the second-straight day, MU jumped to a lead in the first inning. Outfielders Hunter Mense, James Boone and Jacob Priday all hit RBI singles in the first inning to make it 3-0.
“After last night, we just wanted to come out and score in the first inning,” Mense said. “You could tell, as soon as they walked in here, they didn’t want to play. You could tell it in their eyes. They just weren’t ready. And then if we were to get on top of them quick … I think that was the key to the whole game right there.”
After the first inning, Missouri didn’t hit the ball out of the infield until the fifth. But the Tigers took advantage of infield hits and Texas Tech errors to score three runs in that time.
“Especially in conference, if you can get runs across, you’ve got to get them any way you can,” Mense said. “You can’t worry about getting hits or doing it pretty.”
The runs allowed Missouri to keep a comfortable margin, and the Tigers won their 15th straight. The win against Texas Tech (18-10, 2-5 Big 12) makes MU 23-4 and keeps it in first place in the Big 12.
“We’re playing some pretty darn good baseball,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “Culp pitched good, our defense was good and we moved runners when we needed to move runners.”