Winning conference games at Taylor Stadium has been tough to come by for the Missouri Tigers (26-11) (7-8 SEC) in their latest 6-1 defeat to #10 Kentucky (25-12) (10-5 SEC) on Easter Sunday.
The Tigers have lost all three home series this year to Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky going 2-7 over the nine SEC home games. While all these teams are in the top-25 and two in the top-10, this is what the Tigers signed up for when joining the SEC in 2013. Fortunately for Missouri, they have been able to salvage its first two road series of the year sweeping Alabama and taking two of three from Georgia. The 7-8 conference mark puts Mizzou in fourth place in the SEC East and 11th overall at the halfway point.
“You have such a good win yesterday and guys come in feeling really good about themselves,” Head Coach Steve Bieser said. “We just didn’t have it today. Shame on me, I knew there was an opportunity for a let down and I didn’t want to put that thought in their head before the game. I should have talked a little bit in-depth about putting last night behind us and coming out and playing the same way we played yesterday.”
Kentucky scored first in the top of fourth with a bases loaded sacrifice fly from Riley Mahan (0-3, RBI). With two outs and runners on first and second, the Wildcats pulled off a double steal. Brett Bond’s (2-4, run, RBI) throw to second caromed off Luke Becker (1-3, run, RBI) sliding into second. Zach Reks (0-1, run) came around to score and Becker was thrown out at home by a perfect throw from Connor Brumfield (1-4).
Bond hit his seventh home run of the season, a solo-shot to left field in the bottom of the fourth to cut the UK lead in half, 2-1. For Bond, it was his fourth home run of the series and his third straight game putting one over the fence.
Bryce Montes De Oca (3-2, 3.06 ERA) went five innings, allowing four hits, four runs, struck out four and walked three. Montes De Oca was pulled after the first two batters reached via walk and a single in the top of the sixth. UK went on to score four runs in the inning.
Three of those runs came with some controversy as Cole Bartlett hit T.J. Collett (0-2) with two outs in the inning to load the bases. From the replay, it looked like Collett leaned into the pitch, which by rule means the batter is not awarded first base. Bieser made his argument clear to home plate umpire Richie Tallent but to Bieser’s dismay, Tallent did not agree. Bartlett went on to hit the next batter followed by a two-run single giving Kentucky a 6-1 lead.
“The NCAA rule is that you can no longer spin forward with your front knee coming in back toward the catcher,” Bieser said. “To me it’s a bad pitch. If the ball is in the batters box and hits a guy then it should be a hit by pitch. The rule needs to be called 100 percent of the time. It’s a guy where it hits his big knee brace. If he doesn’t have a knee brace on then he doesn’t get hit.”
With a series loss to the Wildcats, Mizzou moves to 3-7 against top-25 teams and 1-5 against top-10 teams this season. Kentucky leads the all-time series 8-7.
The Tigers are back in action on Tuesday evening at 6:30 against in-state rival, Missouri State (22-13) (6-0 MVC). Tex Little and Matt Michaels will have the call on KTGR [100.5 FM/1580 AM].