In a game that started with a 15-minute delay because of an over-watered field, it was only fitting that Missouri’s 5-0 win over No. 5 Texas A&M Saturday at University Field hinged on a bizarre play.
In the bottom of the fifth inning of a scoreless game, the Tigers (33-18) had runners on second and third with two out. Right fielder Julie Silver struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt from Aggies’ (36-7) starter Megan Gibson. Instead of throwing to first, Aggies catcher Beverly Rowan chose to run after the Tigers’ Allison Kennewell, who wandered down the third base line. As Kennewell retreated to third, Kathy Masterson, who advanced to third during the rundown, retreated safely to second. Rowan’s throw to third was too late to get Kennewell, and all three runners were safe.
After that play, first baseman Amanda Renth lined a 1-2 pitch for a double off the 190-foot sign in right field, clearing the bases and giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Kennewell said she was shocked that Rowan attempted to make a play on her.
“My instinct was just to go home because we had two outs,” she said, “but then I noticed that she was paying a lot of attention to me. So, I kind of held up, and that was enough to get Julie over to first.”
Renth said she was determined to make the Aggies’ pay for the defensive miscue.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Renth said. “I couldn’t believe what happened, and then I was like, all right, it’s time for us to score here. That play made the whole thing happen.”
Pitcher Jen Bruck said she knew Renth would capitalize.
“She’s been consistent in hitting the ball (lately), but not with the long ball,” Bruck said. “So we were like, ‘She’s due.’”
Kennewell said the situation showed what Missouri can do late in ballgames.
“That was clutch,” she said. “Julie’s strikeout and then the error and that. I had a good feeling for Amanda, she hadn’t had great at bats before that, but I knew she was going to come through, because she doesn’t usually let someone get her (out) three times.”
Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said getting the lead in such weird fashion was a lift for the Tigers heading into the last two weeks of the regular season.
“It’s exciting, especially from the standpoint where you know you have your three-hole (hitter) coming to the plate,” he said. “Anytime she (Renth) comes up to bat you have a chance to drive a run in and make something happen.”
Earleywine stressed the importance of not giving teams such as Missouri extra opportunities, as he said they usually capitalize on them.
“Like any good team, and I think we can be considered a good team, if you give a team four outs, they’ll come back to bite you, and that’s exactly what happened,” he said.