Should Mizzou Baseball Start Freaking Out?


After losing six of their last seven, is it time for Mizzou baseball to press the panic button?

It started after a pair of losses to Youngstown State. The pitching staff just could not put it together; after wasting a quality start by Tanner Houck in the first game of a doubleheader, the bullpen was handed a tough go of it by Austin Tribby…and then pitched a collective three innings of one hit ball. The problem with that performance was that the offense could not take advantage. Despite Youngstown State’s pitchers walking eight batters, the Mizzou offense just could not get it done.

This continued against Southeast Missouri State, at least at first. In the first game of their two-game set, the pitching staff once again imploded, giving up seven runs on 15 hits. Redhawk third baseman Hunter Leeper ripped apart the Tigers at the plate, knocking in three RBIs on three hits. And it’s not like we can place the blame on any particular part of the Tigers’ game. The pitching was abysmal, and the Mizzou offense once again failed to take advantage of the eight hits they garnered on the day. None of this should discount the Redhawks’ performance; starter Jacob Lawrence struck out 11 over eight innings, making the Tigers seem silly.

For a minute, it seemed like the Tigers might end their slump.

In the second game of the series, it seemed like there might be hope for the Tigers. They absolutely walloped the Redhawks 13-6. In two scoring spurts in the 5th and 8th innings, the Mizzou offense showed the spark that it had displayed early in the season in wins against UIC and Hofstra. But there was a dark undercurrent to the proceedings: by the time the Tigers had scored a run, it was already 4-0 in favor of the Redhawks. SEMO had run pitcher Ryan Lee out on a rail after four innings, and put Cole Bartlett through his paces before being silenced by Austin Tribby and Brian Sharp.

More from Missouri Tigers

And then the Mizzou baseball team had the unenviable task of beginning SEC play in Gainesville, Florida. The Florida Gators are the number one team in the country, but at first it seemed like the Tigers might have had a chance. Even though the Gators came right out of the gate with three-run first, the Tigers fought and clawed their way back to send the game to extra innings, capped off by a clutch ninth-inning single by Jake Ring. Reggie McClain had struck out eight in a nine-inning appearance and now Brian Sharp was faced with fending off the Gators.

But it was not meant to be. Florida first baseman Peter Alonso singled to right to bring in the game-winning run, thus ending the best chance the Tigers had of coming away with a win in Gainesville. In the second game of the series, the Gators ran roughshod over the Tigers, lighting Tanner Houck up for nine hits, including two solo shots. The Tigers looked scary in the closing game of the series, putting in a four-run sixth inning, but it was simply was not enough.

And it does not look good for the Tigers going forward.

Currently, the Tigers must face four more teams in the Baseball America Top 25 in SEC play: LSU, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Arkansas. The Commodores come into Taylor Stadium this weekend, and it’s unlikely that Mizzou will take a game against the 11th-ranked in the nation. For those of you counting at home, that will put the Tigers as losers of nine of their last ten. At that point either one of two things can happen: the team buckles down and rides it out, or accepts that the season is lost and tanks. Except that tanking doesn’t do you much in college.

mizzou baseball
Will the World Series magic rub off on the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium and kickstart a rebound? Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Mizzou plays Vanderbilt and Arkansas in consecutive series, save a one-off in Kaufman Stadium against Saint Louis University. And if the Tigers are to bounce back, it’s against SLU. SLU has gone 4-4 in their last eight games, and have a team .262 batting average. The Billikens are also 1-9 on neutral sites this season, compared to Mizzou’s 6-2 record on neutral ground. The Tigers have an identical batting average, but have a far better pitching staff than SLU. SLU’s staff has a 5.35 ERA, while Mizzou owns a 3.38 team ERA.

After playing Arkansas, the Tigers welcome SIU-Edwardsville and Auburn to Taylor Stadium for a quartet of games. The SIU-E Cougars have gone 3-15 so far this year, one of their wins coming against SLU. Auburn has struggled mightily, standing at 11-10 as of writing. The Auburn Tigers also play Arkansas and LSU (who are also ranked) before coming to Columbia.

If Mizzou baseball can begin to bounce back against SLU, and take even half of their next eight games, they could be in good shape until they play Mississippi State in early May. However that is a very big if.  The pitching will have to take on some form of consistency for this to even be possible.

In short: DEFCON 3. DEFCON 2 imminent.

Next: Blues Recall Lindbohm