There haven’t been many occasions this season for the Missouri baseball team to lack confidence. With a 14-game winning streak, a winning record in Big 12 Conference play, and a perfect 6-0 record in three-game series, the Tigers have had plenty of reasons to feel good about themselves.
On Sunday, though, the Tigers’ confidence took a blow when the team suffered its first three-game series loss of the year at the hands of Texas A&M (30-8, 8-6). After splitting a doubleheader on Saturday, Missouri (25-11, 7-5) lost the weekend’s rubber match to the Aggies 5-2.
Coach Tim Jamieson said the difference between the weekend’s two losses and the several close games Missouri has won previously in the season is a result of the confidence of Missouri batters.
“I think there’s some guys that are confident, and some that aren’t,” Jamieson said after the loss. “I think that’s the cruelty of the game sometimes.”
Whether or not confidence was a factor, Missouri batters missed out on several opportunities to tighten the game. After the Aggies had established a 5-0 lead after five innings, Missouri’s bullpen held Texas A&M scoreless through the final four.
But Missouri’s offense was kept in check. Nine Missouri batters reached base in the last four innings, but the Tigers ended up with only two runs to show for their scoring opportunities.
Senior John McKee, whose 28 RBIs rank second on the team, had at least one runner on base in all four of his plate appearances. But, three strikeouts and a double play were all McKee produced .
McKee said that his best way to handle having bad games is forget about them.
“It was just one of those days,” the first baseman said. “I try to throw it out (of my mind). Sometimes it works, and I just try to make adjustments next time I get up there.”
Jamieson said that with McKee especially, recent problems are most likely more mental than physical.
“John’s very mental,” Jamieson said. “If you could tell somebody to make them confident, then none of us would ever lack it.”
Much of why the Tigers’ offense was playing catch-up was because of starter Greg Folgia’s struggles on the mound early in the game. Missouri’s No. 3 starter gave up four earned runs off five hits before being relieved after 41/3 innings. Two of the runs came from back-to-back Aggie home runs in the top of the second inning. .
The Tigers might have had an indication of Folgia’s struggles before the game even started. Folgia was late getting out of the bullpen before the game, delaying the contest’s start time more than five minutes, while he continued to try to get loose and feel comfortable on the mound. He said he knew in the bullpen that he wasn’t in full command of his pitches.
“I didn’t feel too comfortable,” he said. “I couldn’t throw a lot of off-speed stuff for strikes. I was trying to get a feel for all the pitches, but it didn’t work.”
But Folgia was quick to show signs of regaining his much-needed confidence. When discussing the first home run he allowed in the second inning, to Texas A&M right fielder Luke Anders, Folgia was more sarcastic than serious.
“I actually thought that was a good pitch,” he said with an ironic laugh. “But he just crushed it, so I was like, ‘Oh, thanks.’”