After winning its first two tournament games of the weekend, the Missouri baseball team is in position to win the Coca-Cola Classic today inSurprise, Ariz. But, before it can claim its first trophy of the season, the team will face a challenging final test: the defending national champions of Oregon State.
Despite the tough competition, Missouri (5-1) should have no lack of confidence heading in to today’s game against the Beavers (8-1). The Tigers’ offense, led by sophomore Ryan Lollis and senior John McKee, has averaged more than eight runs per game so far this season, and freshman Kyle Gibson, who is scheduled to get his first start of the year, pitched three perfect innings of relief in his last outing.
Gibson will be looking to replicate the success that the Tigers’ pitching staff found in weekend’s first two games, which were dominated by the top two pitchers on Missouri’s young staff. Sophomore right-hander Aaron Crow did not give up an earned run in seven innings of work in Saturday’s 10-3 win against Gonzaga (2-6), and his two-hit total is the lowest Gibson has allowed in 15 career starts at Missouri.
Sophomore Rick Zagone allowed just two earned runs on five hits and retired 14 of the past 17 batters he faced in 6.2 innings en route to a 3-2 win against Arizona State (6-3) on Friday.
The battle for the starting catcher position also became more complicated Saturday. Freshman Trevor Coleman tallied his first three hits and three RBIs as a Tiger, putting pressure on junior Dan Pietroburgo, who had Saturday’s game off, to secure the starting job today. Coach Tim Jamieson has yet to officially name the team’s starting catcher, but Pietroburgo has started four of the team’s six games so far this season.
Friday’s win was also a chance for some early-season revenge for Missouri. The Sun Devils handed the Tigers their first loss of the season with a 7-1 win Thursday night in Glendale, Ariz. before both teams traveled to Surprise for the weekend’s tournament to meet again Friday.