One bad inning was all it took to keep the Missouri baseball team from recording two shutouts in the Service Academy Classic on Sunday in Millington, Tenn. Instead, the Tigers split the day’s games and finished the weekend’s tournament with a 1-3 record.
The Tigers (6-5) won their first game of the day thanks to three solid innings each from pitchers Stephan Holst, Ryan Gargano and Ryan Allen. The trio gave up a combined two hits and one walk in a clean 5-0 win over Navy (8-2).
Holst tallied the victory and Gargano continued what was a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Allen gave up a pair of hits while earning the save. The Tigers retired all but three of the 30 Navy batters they faced in the game.
The team continued its good pitching well into the day’s second game, a makeup of Saturday’s rained-out game against Memphis. Sophomore Aaron Crow had another strong performance, striking out eight and allowing only four hits in seven innings of shutout work. Crow’s ERA dropped more than a full point in the outing, down to 1.56. He has allowed only three earned runs in 171/3 innings pitched over three starts this season.
But, Crow’s efforts were spoiled quickly. The team’s bullpen, possibly drained from the 16 innings Missouri had played already, didn’t have enough left to finish out the day’s second shutout. Relievers Steven Mohr, Brant Combs and Greg Folgia, who have pitched a combined 161/3 innings in the season’s first 11 games, allowed five runs (four unearned) in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead to a 5-1 loss and cloud what was otherwise an outstanding day for Missouri’s pitching staff.
The competition for the team’s starting catcher position also became more intriguing Sunday, as freshman and current No. 2 catcher Trevor Coleman now leads the team with a batting average of .313 in five games played. Dan Pietroburgo, who has had the majority of starts at the position to this point, entered the weekend leading the team with a .429 batting average, only to have that number drop to .300 in what was a tough weekend for many Missouri hitters.
Sunday marked the conclusion of a three weekend, three state road trip that brought the Tigers to Florida, Arizona, and Tennessee and gave them the opportunity to compete against the defending national champions of Oregon State. The Beavers defeated Missouri 9-2 on February 18 in the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz.
The Tigers’ home opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Taylor Stadium against Youngstown State. The teams will play three games over the weekend before Missouri hosts Louisiana-Monroe on March 6 and 7.