Sloppy ninth inning dooms Mizzou baseball against SanFrancisco

Story by Zach Garcia
Photos by John Guminski

The Missouri baseball team
fought all the way back, only to let the game slip away in a
disastrous ninth inning against San Francisco (6-8) on Saturday.
Missouri (3-7) forged a late-game comeback, but also committed
several costly errors that led to an 8-3 loss in the second game of
the weekend series. The visiting Dons plated five runs in a
decisive top of the ninth, a mere half inning after the Tigers
evened the game at 3-3 in the eighth inning. San Francisco’s sudden
rally began when Missouri third baseman Keaton Steele fielded a
bunt by USF’s No. 8 batter Jourdan Weiks and rushed a throw to
first base, which traveled past first baseman Michael McGraw and up
the baseline. Weiks pulled in at second, while USF first baseman
Brendan Hendriks (who singled to begin the ninth) reached third
base – all with no outs. “I picked the ball up, threw it and missed
it,” Steele said. “Bad throw on my part. I overshot the left side,
I didn’t want to throw to the right side and get him (Missouri
second baseman Kendall Keeton) killed by the runner (USF’s
Hendriks, approaching second base on the play) going down. But
that’s baseball. That happens.”

The very next batter, USF pinch hitter Harrison Bruce,
skied a sacrifice fly ball to left field that brought Hendriks home
for the tie-breaking run. Steele’s error wasn’t the only costly
Missouri gaffe of the ninth, as USF leadoff man Justin Maffei would
later travel the bases to score despite hitting a single. Maffei
followed Bruce with a liner to left field that Brannon Champagne
misplayed and had to chase to the wall, bringing home both USF
runners and increasing the score to 6-3. USF right
fielder Bradley Zimmer hit a triple later in the ninth,
scoring two more runs for the Dons before Tigers reliever John
Miles finally got Missouri out of the inning. Missouri’s mistakes
were a theme on the afternoon, despite playing a comeback role for
most of the game. The Tigers were in fact behind from the very
start, as Maffei hit a leadoff home run off of starter Brett Graves
in the top of the first inning. Another run in the first and a
third run in the seventh inning had San Francisco on top by a score
of 3-0. Missouri answered with a run on Logan Pearson’s single in
the bottom of the seventh, but another costly Missouri play limited
the effort on the inning to one run. Earlier in the inning,
Missouri left fielder Case Munson was thrown out when we casually
began to trot to second base after thinking teammate Michael McGraw
had drawn a walk. McGraw’s count was full, however, and San
Francisco made the easy tag on Munson for the first out of the
inning – which would eventually end with Pearson stranded in
scoring position. Still, Missouri managed to equal the score with a
two-run eighth inning in which catcher Dylan Kelly and center
fielder Josh Lester each brought a run home with a double and a
sacrifice fly, respectively. The comeback would be for naught, as
San Francisco immediately answered back in the ninth inning.
“Throughout the game, we didn’t do anything particularly well
except come back,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. Missouri
managed nine hits, but that figure was topped by San Francisco’s
twelve on the afternoon. The Tigers used five relief pitchers after
Braves tired in the sixth inning, while the Dons relied on a strong
outing from starter Alex Balog (seven innings pitched, six hits and
one run with nine strikeouts) and solid cleanup work from reliever
Haden Hinkle (two innings pitched, three hits, two runs and one
strikeout) – who earned the win. Breckin Williams (1.1 innings
pitched, three earned runs, two of them earned) took the loss for
Missouri. The final game of Missouri’s weekend series against San
Francisco will take place at noon on Sunday from Taylor Stadium at
Simmons Field. The start time has been moved up an hour from the
scheduled 1 p.m. first pitch to accommodate for weather forecasts
and San Francisco’s travel accommodations. The
Supervising Editors for this story were Megan Rentschler and Jared
Jeffries 

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