The University of Missouri baseball team qualified for the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the third time in four years, but unfortunately were matched them against a familiar foe.
The 11th-seeded Tigers earned a berth against sixth-seeded Vanderbilt in an elimination game on Tuesday and the Commodores continued their dominance over Tim Jamieson’s club.
Buoyed by a strong outing from starting pitcher Patrick Raby and four-run sixth inning, Vanderbilt beat Missouri 7-0 at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala., and eliminated the Tigers.
"We didn't have enough pieces to compete with the best teams in the league and there are some really, really good teams in our league — at least eight of them with a chance to go to Omaha," Jamieson told reporters. "If other teams get hot they do too. We did OK with the teams at the bottom of the league but we did not handle the teams at the top. We kind of showed that again today. Vanderbilt played well but we are just not quite as strong as they are."
Vanderbilt has defeated Missouri in each of the teams’ 14 meetings, including four times this season, since the Tigers joined the SEC.
The issue for Missouri (26-30) on Tuesday, which was a familiar refrain this season, was a lack of offense. The Tigers mustered just four hits, with junior shortstop Ryan Howard getting two of them.
Missouri sophomore righty Tanner Houck (5-6) got the ball for the opening game of the tournament and pitched well enough to give the Tigers a chance. Pitching on short rest, he allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits in six innings, with six strikeouts and one walk.
The Tigers couldn’t generate much offensively against Raby (7-1), who entered the game with a 2.91 earned-run average but lowered it to 2.61 with six shutout innings. He allowed just two hits in six innings, with four strikeouts against two walks.
Missouri’s best opportunity against Raby came in the sixth when two runners reached base with two outs. But then the next batter, first baseman Zach Lavy, popped up to shortstop to end the inning.
Houck was able to work out of trouble in the second and fourth innings, but couldn’t escape a sixth-inning jam without damage.
The right-hander walked the leadoff hitter, Ethan Paul, and surrendered a hit-and-run single to the next batter, Jeren Kendall. Then Vanderbilt center field Bryan Reynolds delivered a two-run double down the right field line to plate the first runs of the game.
Houck retired the next two batters, but then hit Will Toffey with a pitch. Reynolds scored on an error while attempting to steal third. then Toffey on another error to make it 4-0.
Vanderbilt added three runs in the eighth off Mizzou reliever Austin Tribby. Julian Infante hit a pinch-hit two-run home run. Toffey doubled and scored on a two-out single by Kyle Smith to push the lead to 7-0.
Vandy relievers Snider and Everett combined to toss three scoreless innings, with two hits allowed while striking out four and walking one.
The Tigers finish the 2016 campaign at 26-30 overall after going 30-28 in 2015, 20-33 in 2014 and 18-32 in 2013, which was their first year in the Southeastern Conference.