Missouri baseball pitching staff collapses once again in high-scoring loss against Alabama

The Tigers’ pitching staff allowed an early five-run lead to slip and remain winless in SEC games where they give up five runs or more.

Missouri baseball’s offense gave its pitching staff a golden opportunity to win a crucial SEC game, but an early offensive outburst didn’t sustain the Tigers in an 11-8 loss against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

In the early innings, it appeared to be Missouri’s day. After Alabama junior right-hander Tyler Ras struck out the first two batters of the game, the lineup caught hold of his fastball and opened the festivities with a four-run first inning.

Six consecutive two-out hits in the first inning set the tone for Missouri’s offensive surge. Through the first four innings, the Tigers hit 8-11 and scored six runs to prolong innings, which ran up Ras’ pitch count.

But redshirt sophomore righty Seth Halvorsen’s first pitch of the evening proved telling.

On a fastball right over the middle of the plate, sophomore second baseman Peyton Wilson deposited the fastball over the centerfield wall to put the Crimson Tide on the board.

A moonshot from sophomore third baseman Zane Denton two batters later cut the Tigers’ lead in half in fewer than 20 pitches.

But Halvorsen settled down to escape the first inning, and Missouri kept its offensive mojo going. Senior second baseman Mark Vierling and graduate student right fielder Andrew Keefer manufactured a run after junior center fielder Josh Holt Jr. led off the inning with a double down the right-field line.

The hits and runs kept on coming in the next two innings. All nine Tigers recorded a hit by the end of the fourth inning and Missouri plated a run in each of them. Three more runs in the third and fourth innings provided Halvorsen a lengthy leash to work with on the mound.

However, the leash should have been longer for Missouri’s shaky pitching staff, whose cumulative 7.50 earned run average is two runs higher than the second-highest program in the conference.

A pair of leadoff walks and a wild pitch set the table for Denton’s second RBI of the night on a single to right-center. With runners on the corners, Halvorsen found himself in one of the “make or break” moments that the Tigers are accustomed to in the middle innings.

Halvorsen allowed another run to score, but he rolled up a double play in the sequence to maintain a two-run lead and leave in line for the win.

However, an inning break and new pitcher could not stop Missouri’s pitching staff from unraveling.

Junior right-hander Jacob Kush relieved Halvorsen of his duties and pitched a peculiar sixth inning. The frame started with four consecutive hits to the bottom third of the order as the Crimson Tide took a 9-8 lead.

After pitching coach Fred Corral gave Kush some words of advice, he struck out three of Alabama’s most potent hitters — Praytor, Denton and sophomore right fielder William Hamiter — in just 10 pitches.

As the pitchers struggled, the offense ran out of firepower. After Ras allowed eight runs in four innings, Alabama coach Brad Bohannon turned the ball over to redshirt senior right-hander William Freeman, who gave the Crimson Tide everything they could’ve hoped for.

Freeman threw three innings of one-hit ball and shut out the Tigers to give Alabama a wide opening to take control of the game in the middle innings. His replacement, redshirt sophomore righty Landon Green, replicated his success to close out another disappointing outing for Missouri.

Friday’s loss continued the troubling pattern of defeats that stemmed from the Tigers’ pitching woes. Missouri remains winless in 13 games where it has allowed five or more runs, and the Tigers’ season record fell to 3-24 in such games.

The Tigers will look to break their four-game losing streak tomorrow in Tuscaloosa at 2 p.m.

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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