Television crews interviewed players and coach Tim Jamieson, and later point-and-shoot cameras replaced the heavy video cameras.
Smiles and laughter prevailed as players posed with one another for personal snapshots taken by their families and teammates. Jamieson shook hands and gave hugs to parents.
The Missouri baseballl team swept Texas, the 2005 College World Series champions, with a 7-5 win Sunday at Taylor Stadium.
Two youngsters from the bleachers, 11-year-olds Zach Moore and Casey Slattery, navigated the swarm on a mission to secure signatures from the Tigers players. Moore, who said they were “friends of the team,” carried a baseball covered with the Tigers’ autographs. Slattery wore a T-shirt covered with the same. They also carried a broom, which they asked players to sign.
“We just brought it from home,” Slattery said. “We wanted it to symbolize us sweeping Texas. I will remember it forever.”
Senior Travis Wendte talked with his family and his neighbors who traveled to Columbia from Moore, Okla. The family he stayed with in Santa Barbara, Calif. when he played summer ball for the Santa Barbara Foresters in the California Collegiate League was also there.
Wendte said they all will go to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 Conference Tournament, which begins Wednesday with No. 7 seed Missouri facing No. 2 seed Oklahoma State at 8 p.m.
Wendte stepped to the mound in the ninth inning to close the game. It was his second successful close of the weekend. He also closed Friday’s 7-5 win over Texas. In both games, he gave up one hit and no runs.
Fans chanted “sweep, sweep, sweep” in the stands on Sunday. Even though Wendte said it wasn’t his best performance because someone got on base, it was still great finish to his career on Simmons Field.
The sweep prevented Texas (38-18, 19-7 Big 12) from setting a school record for regular-season conference wins. Wendte said winning the final game of the regular season gives Missouri (29-24, 12-15) a lot of momentum heading into the tournament.
Texas already clinched the regular-season championship entering the series and holds the top seed in the tournament. Missouri secured a place in the tournament with Friday’s win guaranteeing them no lower than an eighth-place finish in conference. Missouri and Texas are the only teams in the Big 12 to qualify for the NCAA tournament the past three seasons. However, it’s likely Missouri, seventh in this season’s standings, must win the tournament to advance.
But Wendte has hope.
“I wouldn’t want to face our hitters right now,” he said.
A season plagued by injuries and tough losses is finally starting to resemble the team’s No. 10 national preseason ranking by Baseball America.
“We’re healthy right now, and that’s just something else that can add to our confidence,” Wendte said. “I like our chances and I think we are going to be real competitive down there. I think we have a real good chance to go all the way.”
After the teams traded the lead several times Sunday, a two-run base hit from shortstop Gary Arndt in the eighth secured the victory for Missouri.