MU slugging, but top spots struggling

The first three batters in the Tigers’ lineup combined to hit .053 last weekend.
Friday, April 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:38 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lost in Missouri’s series win against Texas Tech last weekend were the struggles of a key group of Tiger hitters: the top three in the order. The Tigers scored 25 runs on 13 hits in Friday’s win, but even in that impressive offensive performance the top three spots were a combined 1-for-14. Saturday was another Tiger win but another rough day for Bryson LeBlanc, Derek Chambers and John McKee. They went 0-for-10.

Those top-of-the-order woes finally hurt the No. 23 Tigers in Sunday’s 5-3 loss. The top three spots were 1-for-14 without a run scored.

“We’ve got to get on base for those four, five and six guys,” Chambers said. “Those guys drive in the runs for us, and last weekend I didn’t do a very good job of getting on base.”

Because of the bad weekend and because Southeast Missouri State started a left-handed pitcher, coach Tim Jamieson shook up his lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Redhawks. Instead of starting LeBlanc in the leadoff spot, Jamieson gave the nod to Trevor Helms.

Helms responded with a 4-for-6 effort, including two doubles, three runs scored and an RBI.

“We’re not ready to make Trevor the full-time lead-off guy yet,” Jamieson said. “He’s certainly a guy we need to do well against left-handed pitchers.”

Helms will lead off tonight when the Tigers (23-6 overall, 5-1 Big 12 Conference) start a three-game series against No. 18 Texas A&M (22-10-1, 4-5) and lefty Jason Meyer.

Helms played well against Southeast Missouri State, but the rest of the team, especially the pitchers, had its troubles. The Redhawks hit about .260 as a team, but pounded out 16 hits Wednesday. Shortstop Ernie Bracamonte hit a three-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning to win the game 8-5.

“I certainly don’t like the way we played last night,” Jamieson said. “The thing about our six losses is that all of them are games we could have won.”

Missouri broke into the Baseball America national rankings last week for the first time, but then promptly lost to the 11-16 Redhawks.

“It tells us that just because we’re ranked, we can’t just walk in anywhere and play,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to bring it to the table every day, and we didn’t.”

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