Keaton Steele’s eighth-inning home run was the difference as Mizzou (18-30, 10-19) topped Kentucky (29-24, 10-19) by a 4-3 final Friday (May 17) night at Taylor Stadium. Eric Anderson carried the load for Mizzou on the mound, going 7.1 innings and surrendering only four hits, three runs, and striking out four in his longest outing since Feb. 24, 2012 against San Francisco. Steele came in to close the game for the Tigers after pushing Mizzou ahead, sealing the 4-3 win and a spot in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., on Tuesday, May 21.
The Tigers got a big two-out single in the sixth inning from Shane Segovia, bringing in two runs to tie the game and erase a 3-1 deficit that Mizzou had faced since the third inning. Dylan Kelly got the Tigers’ first RBI, scoring Josh Lester in the third inning. Kelly also scored a run in the contest, coming home on Segovia’s hit.
Mizzou threatened in the second inning with runners on the corners and two outs, but Kentucky drew first blood in the contest by taking advantage of two walks and a hit batsman from Anderson, scoring three runs on two hits in the third inning. The Tigers responded by putting some pressure on the Wildcats in the bottom of the frame, putting two runners on with one out, and Lester came around to score on a two-out single from Kelly to cut the UK lead to two runs.
After a scoreless fourth, Kentucky put its first two batters aboard, but Anderson responded with back-to-back strikeouts and induced a groundout to escape the jam unscathed. Mizzou got a big opportunity in the sixth, loading the bases from three walks, and a big single by Segovia to left-center tied the game at three runs apiece.
Anderson’s day ended in the top of the eighth inning with one out, leaving the bases empty for reliever Jake Walsh, who ended the inning scoreless after taking advantage of a spectacular diving play from shortstop Dillon Everett for the third out. Steele led off the bottom of the eighth with a long shot to left, clearing the fence into the home bullpen to put the Tigers on top 4-3, the only score of the inning. Kentucky got a double with one out in the top of the ninth to put the tying run in scoring position against Steele, but the runner was left stranded on third after a strikeout.
Saturday’s (May 18) contest against Kentucky, which will decide the 11-seed for the SEC Tournament in Hoover, starts at 1 p.m.