Despite shaky defense, baserunning errors and stagnant hitting, the Missouri baseball team had a chance to beat Texas Tech in the late innings on Sunday at Taylor Stadium.
Then came some suspect relief pitching.
Three different Missouri relievers gave up runs as Texas Tech came back to beat Missouri 5-3. The loss snapped the Tigers’ 15-game winning streak and was their first in Big 12 Conference play.
“Every win in this league is going to matter,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “We feel like we’ve got a ballclub that can contend and we got a game at home. We’re a little disappointed.”
The Red Raiders (19-10, 3-5 Big 12), seething after losing 25-0 Friday and 7-2 Saturday, scored two runs in the third to take their first lead of the series. To help the rally, Missouri (23-5, 5-1) made the same mistakes that plagued Texas Tech in the first two games of the weekend.
After one run had scored on a passed ball, Missouri third baseman John McKee booted a ground ball, allowing Cody Fuller to reach base. A balk, a walk and a hit brought Fuller home.
“It’s mistakes like that that get you beat,” Jamieson said. “That’s sloppiness that really can’t happen in a one or two-run game.”
On offense, the Tigers missed a couple of opportunities early in the game. With the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, shortstop Gary Arndt sent a shallow fly ball to center. Fuller raced in and made a diving catch, denying MU at least two runs.
The next inning, with MU down 2-0, left fielder Hunter Mense singled but McKee slipped coming around third base and was thrown out to end the inning.
“That’s just how baseball goes,” Mense said. “Things that went well for us the first two days didn’t go well for us.”
Still, the Tigers only trailed 2-1 heading to the sixth. There, Jacob Priday tied the game with an infield single and later scored on a fielding error to give MU the lead.
For all their mistakes, the Tigers were in a great position. They were ahead 3-2 and put the game in the hands of their well-rested bullpen.
But the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Andrew Johnston allowed two hits to start the seventh. He picked off one runner but the other scored on a ground ball to tie the game.
In the eighth, Texas Tech shortstop Cameron Blair, an All-Big 12 player who said he felt pressure after making three costly errors in the series, singled against Missouri pitcher Taylor Parker and later scored, giving the Red Raiders the lead.
“There is a certain amount of pressure,” Blair said. “You try to go with it and deal with everything that comes at you.”
MU’s last reliever of the day, Travis Wendte, couldn’t shut Texas Tech down either. He allowed a home run to Brent Thomas in the ninth.
But, Jamieson said, the Tigers’ biggest problem Saturday was hitting.
“We put ourselves in position offensively that single runs are going to beat us,” he said. “I just didn’t think we did a particularly good job at the plate…To me, that’s where the loss lies.”
The top three spots in Missouri’s order went a combined 1-for-14. Mense went 4-for-4 in the cleanup spot but did not have an RBI.