Mizzou Baseball used a barrage of two-out hits to defeat Kentucky, 9-3, in the series opener Thursday night (May 19) at Cliff Hagan Field. After going on top, 1-0, with a two-out RBI single in the fourth, Mizzou tallied five two-out hits to score four more runs in the fifth inning to break the game open. That was all the run support that Mizzou starter Tanner Houck (Collinsville, Ill.) needed as he tossed a complete game with eight hits and three earned runs while striking out nine with just one walk to earn his fifth win of the year. He did all of that on just four day’s rest.
Kentucky’s Zack Brown took the loss, his 11th of the season, as Mizzou tagged him for 12 hits over 7.0-plus innings with eight runs (all earned) while walking three and striking out four. The Tigers pounded out 14 hits, their most in SEC play as five players tallied multi-hit games. Mizzou moves to 26-27 on the year and moves closer to an SEC Tournament berth as its SEC record now stands at 9-19 on the year.
Mizzou had a chance to score off of Brown in the first inning as a one-out walk by Jake Ring (Ingleside, Ill.) and Ryan Howard’s (St. Charles, Mo.) 12th double of the year put runners on the second and third with one out. But Brown got Zach Lavy (Auxvasse, Mo.) to pop up and then Trey Harris (Powder Springs, Ga.) bounced out to strand a pair.
After Brown appeared to settle in, Mizzou got to him in the fourth inning as a two-out double to right center by C Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.) scored Lavy all the way from first to give Mizzou a 1-0 lead. It likely would have been more runs, but Howard was caught stealing after a leadoff single, his second hit of the day. The double was Bond’s second hit of the day as well.
Mizzou then continued its trend of two-out hitting in the fifth inning. After Brown got the first two outs, Kirby McGuire (Round Rock, Texas) ripped a single into right field to get the rally started. Ring doubled, Howard singled, Lavy doubled and Harris knocked a single up the middle and those five hits led to four runs as Mizzou broke the game open in the top of the fifth.
Houck responded with an easy 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fifth while picking up his third strikeout of the game. Mizzou added another run in the top of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Ian Nelson (Lake St. Louis, Mo.) after Brian Sharp (Liberty, Mo.) tallied his first extra-base hit of SEC play with a double to lead off the inning. Sharp advanced to third on a wild pitch before Nelson’s sacrifice fly.
Mizzou then added three in the eighth inning, two coming on a base-loaded double into right center by McGuire. UK tagged Houck for three runs in the eighth inning, two on a homer by Zach Reks, but he was lights out in the ninth, picking up two more strikeouts to end the game.
Mizzou and Kentucky will be back in action tomorrow at 11 a.m. (CT). That game time was changed due to forecasted inclement weather tomorrow evening.