Saturday was just another day and another loss for Missouri baseball.
The Tigers had a promising start, grabbing the first run of the game in the top of the second, but Alabama snagged the lead with runs in the third, fourth and fifth. MU tried to get back in the game with a run in the seventh, but the Crimson Tide put the game on ice with two in the eighth. That was the last of the scoring in a 5-2 Alabama victory Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The story of the game was Bama’s starting pitcher Dylan Smith. He threw 111 pitches over eight innings, striking out a career-high 11. Smith allowed six hits but limited the damage to just two runs, the fewest Missouri (12-28, 5-15) has scored since April 10 against then-No. 11 South Carolina. Landon Green came in and closed out the final inning, retiring Missouri’s hitters in order.
Only a few Tigers were able to hit Smith with any sort of success. Left fielder Brandt Belk was one of them, smacking two doubles in his three at-bats. Belk also scored the only two Missouri runs. Catcher Mike Coletta also went 2 for 3 but was largely unproductive with his hits, not picking up any other offensive stat.
Designated hitter Tre Morris continued his strong hitting spell, singling in the second to score Belk and give the Tigers an early lead on Alabama (27-15, 10-10). Nobody picked up an RBI on Belk’s second run; he did all the work himself, stealing home in the seventh. The ‘safe’ call was disputed, and after a few minutes of review, it came back in favor of the Tigers.
Not many Tigers collected hits, but all of them struck out at least once, save for Belk, Coletta and shortstop Joshua Day. Right fielder Andrew Keefer and first baseman Torin Montgomery both went down on strikes twice, but Luke Mann struggled the most. The third baseman was 0 for 3, striking out every time he stepped in the box. His new season total of 50 strikeouts leads the team and ranks among the worst in the SEC.
There was a scary situation in the bottom of the fourth when Alabama second baseman Peyton Wilson hit a ball to deep right-center. Racing from center, Josh Holt collided with Keefer, who somehow hung onto the ball for the out. Both players lay on the warning track for several minutes while coaches and athletic trainers jogged out and gave treatment.
Holt and Keefer were replaced in the game, by CJ Cepicky and Clayton Peterson, respectively. Both players involved in the crash walked off the field under their own power.
With the loss, Missouri is no worse off than it was before Saturday as far as the postseason is concerned. The Tigers are competing with Texas A&M for the last spot in the SEC Tournament and hold an advantage after defeating the Aggies 2-1 in an early April home series. Texas A&M played at No. 5 Mississippi State this weekend, losing Friday and in both games of a Saturday doubleheader.