COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri baseball opened its weekend series against NJIT with a doubleheader split Friday evening at Taylor Stadium, stretching its win streak to nine games with a 6-1 victory in game one, before succumbing to the Highlanders in a pitcher’s duel in the night cap, 2-1.
Mizzou built a six-run lead in the opener, striking for three runs in the first inning, then riding the pitching of Chandler Murphy to its ninth straight victory.
But the Highlanders turned to their pitching staff for a response in game two, getting 4 1/3 strong innings from Aiden Kidd, before Grant Vurpillat closed out the one-run decision by inducing rally-killing double plays in two of the final three innings.
Murphy (2-1) tossed a gem in the opening contest, going all seven innings and fanning eight Highlander hitters while giving up just one run. The senior right-hander held NJIT scoreless through six innings, extending his personal scoreless streak to 16 1/3 consecutive shutout frames before the Highlanders scored their lone run in the seventh.
Trevor Austin turned in a big game at the plate, finishing 3-for-3 and driving in three runs. The junior launched a fifth-inning, two-run homer after singling home one of the Tigers’ three first-inning runs.
Junior Ross Lovich also finished a perfect 3-for-3 night that included a run-scoring double to open the scoring in the first. He also plated a run via an infield hit in the second, then singled and scored on Austin’s homer in the fifth.
The game’s pivotal moment arrived early, as Luke Mann’s leadoff single sparked a three-run rally in the home half of the first. Lovich opened the scoring by lacing an RBI double to right-center to chase Mann all the way home.
Austin then smacked a 2-2 offering over the head of shortstop Ray Ortiz to drive in Lovich and widen the Mizzou lead to two runs. Juju Stevens kept the early momentum going with the Tigers’ fourth hit of the inning, knocking in Austin with a double to right that made it a 3-0 game.
The Tigers added to their total in the bottom of the second, capitalizing on a Justin Colon double and Lovich’s infield chopper up the middle to stretch the margin to four runs.
Murphy cruised through his fourth start as a Tiger, retiring eight in a row after allowing a leadoff single to Albert Choi to start the game. He permitted just two more hits until the seventh, when Kevin Putsky lifted a leadoff homer over the right-field wall to end the Tigers’ shutout bid.
Riding their ninth straight victory into the second contest, the Tigers fell behind on a two-run home run by Jared Donnelly in the second inning. Mizzou benefited from a strong showing from Austin Troesser and Zach Franklin, who combined to work five innings, striking out eight and allowing just one hit out of the bullpen.
However, it would be Kidd’s turn to play the role of mound ace for NJIT. After the Highlanders took a 2-0 lead on Donnelly’s shot, the left-hander limited the Tigers to one hit through the first four innings.
But the Tiger offense came to life in the fifth when Matt Garcia delivered his second hit of the game, and Ty Wilmsmeyer walked to set up Mizzou’s first true scoring threat of the contest. A fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, before Mann lined a single to right to drive in the first MU run of the game.
The momentum would be short lived, however, as Kidd induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to preserve the one-run cushion.
Troesser turned in 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief for the Tigers, retiring 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced and striking out four to keep Mizzou within striking distance. Franklin followed suit, fanning a pair after inheriting a sixth-inning base runner.
Mizzou threatened once again in the home half of the sixth, mounting a two-out rally courtesy of a Hank Zeisler walk and a Tre Morris base hit. But Vurpillat came up with an inning-ending strikeout of Wilmsmeyer to escape the jam.
The Tigers scratched out one more threat in the seventh, using another Mann single to put the tying run aboard. But Vurpillat once again came through in the clutch for NJIT, this time getting Stevens to bounce into a 5-3 twin killing to close out the game and hand Mizzou its first loss since Feb. 23.
- Friday’s two meetings were the first between Mizzou and NJIT
- Mizzou sustained its first home loss, dropping to 6-1 at home in 2023 and 388-226 all-time at Taylor Stadium
- The Tigers’ nine-game win streak matched their longest since claiming nine straight wins, Feb. 27-March 13, 2018
- Luke Mann extended his personal hit streak to 10 games, going a combined 3-for-7 on the night
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