COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri Tigers baseball team lost its first series of the season this weekend, losing two of three games against Youngstown State after back-to-back losses during a soggy Saturday doubleheader at Taylor Stadium.
Mizzou’s top three batters combined for just one hit in 22 at bats (.045) during Saturday’s doubleheader.
“Basically we have to let these games go — just forget about it and move on,” Missouri junior shortstop Ryan Howard said. “It wasn’t our day and unfortunately we had two games today, so it didn’t work out for us. Basically our offense, in my opinion, let us down today. I feel like we hit some balls hard that were right at them and got unlucky. And we also gave away some at bats. In my opinion, we are just going to forget about it and move on.”
The Tigers fell to 13-5 on the season. The visiting Penguins, who earned their first series win of the year, improved to 4-9.
Friday: Missouri 8, Youngstown State 3
Senior right-hander Reggie McClain (3-0) earned the victory after he allowed only one run on six hits and recorded five strikeouts through seven innings.
Friday night fans saw an outstanding offensive performance from Zach Lavy. The senior first baseman recorded a career-high five RBIs on two hits, a three-run bomb over the right field fence and two-run double. Junior centerfielder Jake Ring had three singles and a walk, as well as a pair of stolen bases.
Sophomore third baseman Shane Benes' abdominal injury forced the Tigers to switch up their lineup on Friday. Coach Tim Jamieson made the decision to move designated hitter Brian Sharp to third base, and give freshman Marquise Doherty the DH spot. Sharp had an RBI on a groundout and Doherty got his first collegiate hit in the sixth on a single to right field.
“There’s no question that his presence makes us better offensively,” Jamieson said of Benes’ absence. “You can’t afford to miss any of your best bats, maybe if Shane is in the game he might make a difference in two one-run games.”
Saturday Game 1: Youngstown State 4, Missouri 3
Right-handed sophomore Tanner Houck recorded eight strikeouts in six innings against the Penguins, while allowing just one run on three hits, but the Tigers couldn’t support him offensively.
Cole Bartlett (0-1) replaced Houck in the seventh and closed out the game, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three batters and walking one.
Missouri didn’t make much noise offensively during the first game on Saturday, recording only four hits. The only standout performance at the plate came from Sharp, who had a pair of singles, an RBI and a walk. Zach Lavy and Ian Nelson were the only other Tigers to get a hit.
“We hit a lot of gaps, but (Youngstown State’s outfielders) tracked a lot of balls down,” Lavy said. “I was pretty amazed by how good they were.”
Saturday Game 2: Youngstown State 3, Missouri 2
Senior lefty Austin Tribby (2-1) tossed six innings and allowed three runs on six hits, with four strikeouts and three walks.
Missouri’s offense was kept quiet during game three of the series.
Youngstown State starter Collin Floyd did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, however he did walk six batters, which allowed the Tigers to score a run off of an error in the second inning. Missouri had only four hits and one RBI, which came off a single from sophomore outfielder Trey Harris.
YSU seemed hesitant to give Lavy anything he could hit, as he was walked three of his four times at the plate, going 0-1 on the game. Howard hit a two-out triple in the seventh inning, the Tigers’ lone extra-base hit in the game, but was stranded after a groundout by Ring.
The Missouri Tigers play Southeast Missouri (9-7) on Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be Missouri’s last non-conference series before conference play starts on Friday, when Missouri travels to face the top-ranked Florida Gators (17-1) for a three-game weekend conference series.