The Tigers won 9-3 on Thursday behind a strong complete-game performance from sophomore righty Tanner Houck and a lineup that produced 14 hits. But then the Tigers lost 2-1 on Friday and 7-2 on Saturday to lose the series.
“Well we had some chances,” Missouri assistant coach Jerry Zulli, filling in for Tim Jamieson on Saturday, told reporters. “Of course we had those defensive breakdowns in the third inning that really cost us. Had a couple guys come out of the bullpen and did a decent job for us. Hopefully we can rally around everyone the next couple of days and get ready for the SEC Tournament.”
The Tigers will be the No. 11 seed for the SEC Tournament and will play at 9:30 a.m. (CT) on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala., against an opponent still to be determined — either LSU, Vanderbilt or Ole Miss, depending on the outcome of games later on Saturday.
Missouri’s loss on Saturday dropped the Tigers to 26-29 on the season and 9-21 in Southeastern Conference play. Jamieson’s squad finished with a record of 4-13 in away games this spring.
Kentucky, which finished 30-24 overall and 13-15 in SEC play, was no match for Houck and the Tigers on Thursday.
The Tigers’ standout sophomore allowed three runs on eight hits while striking out 10 and walking one over nine innings of work.
Houck finished the regular season with a 5-5 record and team-best 2.99 earned-run average in 14 starts. He struck out 100 batters in 99 1/3 innings and limited opponents to a .209 batting average.
The Missouri lineup gave Houck plenty of support. Junior shortstop Ryan Howard and sophomore catcher Brett Bond had three hits apiece and junior right fielder Kirby McGuire, junior center field Jake Ring and sophomore left fielder Trey Harris each had two RBIs.
The Tigers couldn’t generate much offense in Friday’s 2-1 loss despite a good outing from senior righty Reggie McClain (5-4).
McClain allowed two runs on six hits and struck out eight without a walk in an eight-inning complete-game effort but the lineup mustered just one run on seven hits against two Kentucky hurlers.
The Tigers had just two runs on eight hits in the series finale on Saturday. Ring had two of those hits and scored one of the runs.
As a team, Missouri batted .282 (29-103) over the three-game series — compared to .293 (27-92) for Kentucky — but hit just .221 (15-68) in the two losses.