Freshman Ryan Lollis swept sunflower seeds and dirt into a neat pile outside the Tiger’s dugout.
Lollis, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder on the Missouri baseball team, said he and the rest of the Tigers’ freshmen have done plenty of sweeping. They use a big blue push-broom and clean debris from the dugout after every home game.
Lollis finished the job begun by fellow freshmen Kurt Calvert, Kyle Mach, and Andrew Mueller. He leaned on the broom, relaxed, with a huge smile on his face.
Despite all the broom pushing, it was the first time the rest of the Tigers joined the underclassmen in a sweep at Taylor Stadium this season. A 19-1 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday gave the Tigers their first sweep at home this year.
“It’s just what we do as the new guys,” Lollis said about the postgame chore, “But, the win feels good.”
Missouri’s only other series sweep this season occurred March 17-19, during the Tiger’s Big 12 Conference opener against Texas A&M in College Station.
With Sunday’s win, Missouri (25-21) pushed its winning streak to four games. In contrast, the Delta Devils (23-30) are stuck in an eight-game losing streak.
The Tigers’ run production has improved since beating Missouri State 2-1 on Wednesday. Zane Taylor said Missouri has done better at the plate with runners in scoring position.
“To get a sweep at this point of the year is big, whether it’s in conference or not,” Taylor said. “We’ll take any wins we can get at this point.”
Taylor started the team’s offensive effort leading off the first inning. He singled to center field, and after stealing second, was sent home on an RBI double from Brock Bond.
Missouri scored four runs in the first. Lollis contributed with an RBI single and a run in the inning. He went 3-for-4 and scored two runs.
He scored his second run in the sixth when Hunter Mense drilled a three-run triple. The ball soared over leaping right fielder Mark Vance’s glove. The Tigers led 11-1 entering the seventh.
Coach Tim Jamieson used the Missouri lead as an opportunity to rotate players and positions. Lollis’ postgame sweeping partners Calvert and Mach both contributed. Calvert and Mach each had two RBIs, and Mach scored two runs.
Calvert took Lollis’ position in center field after sitting on the bench for six innings. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Calvert sent Mach home with an single through the right side.
Mach pinch hit in the seventh, then Jamieson moved him to third base in the eighth to replace John McKee. Missouri made nine position shifts in the game.
“We haven’t had that many opportunities to play a whole lot of people,” Jamieson said. “It just keeps their focus stronger because it keeps everybody on the bench ready to come into the game. That’s what scoring runs does for you.”