COLUMBIA, Mo. – Matt Garcia’s one-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning flipped the script against No. 2/4 Vanderbilt, driving in the tying and go-ahead runs and handing Missouri a 5-4 walk-off win over the Commodores Friday evening at Taylor Stadium.
Garcia liner to right field brought in Hank Zeisler from third with the equalizing run, before pinch runner Isaiah Frost raced home from second to give the Tigers their fourth victory over a ranked Southeastern Conference foe this season.
The dramatic ending capped a Mizzou (20-10, 4-7 SEC) rally that saw the Tigers erase a 4-2 deficit over the final five innings behind the pitching of Rorik Maltrud and some clutch two-out hitting from Ty Wilmsmeyer and Juju Stevens to set up the late comeback.
The victory snapped Mizzou’s seven-game SEC skid and marked its sixth overall victory over a ranked foe this season.
While Garcia provided the deciding blow at the plate, Maltrud paved the way with 7.0 solid innings on the mound to give his club the opportunity to rally. The senior right-hander struck out seven Commodores, limiting the SEC’s top offense to just five hits on the night. He also dispatched the final 14 batters he faced in succession before handing the ball off to Zach Franklin in the eighth.
Trailing 4-3 entering the final inning, the Tigers used a one-out Zeisler single as a springboard to the decisive rally. Dylan Leach followed with a base hit to left and Tre Morris delivered a pinch-hit single to load the bases. Garcia then roped a 2-2 offering from Sam Hliboki (3-3) into right to set off an emphatic celebration by the Tigers and their 1,912 fans in attendance.
Franklin (5-2) earned the victory after keeping Vandy in check over the final two innings, despite the Commodores loading the bases in each frame. The graduate transfer induced an inning-ending liner to first to squash an eighth-inning threat, then coaxed a ground ball to the right side to end the ninth, once again leaving the bags full of Vandy baserunners.
The Commodores (25-6, 10-1 SEC) built a 4-2 lead, scoring twice in the first on back-to-back run-producing hits by RJ Schreck and Jack Bulger, then tallying two more in the third after Wilmsmeyer had tied the score with a two-out, two-run homer in the home half of the second—his second home run in as many games against Vanderbilt pitching.
The duo of Schreck and Bulger accounted for the Commodores scoring in the third as well. Schreck singled home Enrique Bradfield Jr., who had tripled to start the inning, before Bulger’s soft tapper to the left side of the infield brought home a speeding Schreck from second after no Tiger defender covered the plate.
Mizzou chipped away at the deficit, scoring in the fifth after Wilmsmeyer singled and stole second to set up Stevens’ two-out double to right-center field.
From there, Maltrud and Hliboki kept the offenses off-balance to keep it a one-run game. Hliboki retired the first nine Tiger batters he faced, recording 10 outs in the process thanks to a double-play grounder in the sixth.
Schreck led the Commodores with a 2-for-4 night, scoring two runs and driving in two more. Starting pitcher Hunter Owen fanned seven Mizzou hitters and limited the Tigers to three runs (one earned) on four hits over 5.0 innings.
Wilmsmeyer recorded his second straight two-hit performance, finishing 2-for-3 with his second home run of the series and two RBIs, as well as his 12th stolen base of the season.
- Missouri won for just the fifth time in 31 all-time meetings with Vanderbilt
- The victory stopped a string of three-straight one-run losses against nationally-ranked foes dating back to a 9-8 loss at No. 9 South Carolina on March 24
- Wilmsmeyer homered for the fifth time in his Mizzou career
- Leach extended his hit streak to five straight games with his ninth-inning single
- Mizzou improved to 6-8 against ranked opponents in 2023
- The Tigers also ran their home record to 12-2 this season
- Maltrud matched his career high with 7.0 innings pitched, which also marked a season and Mizzou career best
- Franklin notched his 21st collegiate victory, which ranks third among all active NCAA Division I pitchers
Mizzou and Vanderbilt will conclude their series Saturday (April 8) with a 2 p.m. contest at Taylor Stadium. Single-game tickets for Saturday’s game, as well as all Mizzou baseball home games in 2023, can be purchased by calling 1-800-CAT-PAWS, or by visiting MUTigers.com/feature/BSBTix.
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