COLUMBIA, Mo. – With a crucial Southeastern Conference series on the line, Missouri fell behind early against No. 2/4 Vanderbilt and never recovered, as four Commodore pitchers combined to shut out the Tigers, 5-0, Saturday afternoon at Taylor Stadium.
Vanderbilt left-hander Devin Futrell (6-1) tossed 7.1 shutout innings, permitting just five hits and striking out six before a trio of relievers finished off the victory with 1 2/3 hitless innings.
Similar to Mizzou’s dramatic walk-off win on Friday, the deciding contest of the series was tight throughout, as Mizzou starter Chandler Murphy (3-3) held the Commodores to a pair of runs over the first six frames. But Saturday’s game differed from the prior two contests in that the Tigers could not find an offensive spark late as Vandy added three critical insurance runs to ice the victory and the series win.
For a third straight outing, Vanderbilt (26-6, 11-1 SEC) jumped out to an early lead. The Commodores struck first with a solo home run by RJ Schreck, who continued his strong series with a two-out shot in the top of the first.
Murphy settled into a groove after giving up the long ball, holding VU without another hit until the fifth. The only Commodore batters to reach base stemmed from a walk immediately following the home run and a third-inning error.
On the offensive end, the Tigers (20-11, 4-8 SEC) manufactured opportunities to respond, as their lineup put at least one man on base in three of the first four innings.
But Futrell put the clamps on the Mizzou offense on all three occasions. In Missouri’s best opportunity to score, Juju Stevens and Trevor Austin reached base on an error and an infield single with two men down in the bottom of the first. Neither would come around to score, as Futrell induced a flyout to end the threat.
Vandy tacked on another run in the sixth inning, as the Commodores took advantage of a Tiger defensive miscue and an RJ Austin RBI single to double their lead to 2-0.
The Tigers manufactured a pair of scoring chances late, but neither resulted in any runs. In the sixth, Stevens reached base on Vandy’s third error of the contest, and Dalton Bargo followed with a base knock. Stevens moved up 90 feet on an Austin fielder’s choice, but both men were stranded when Futrell coaxed a fly ball off the bat of Hank Zeisler.
Two innings later, Missouri found itself in a similar situation with runners on the corners and two out following a Luke Mann hit by pitch and a single from Carlos Peña. Austin lined a Patrick Reilly pitch into the gap in left-center, but centerfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. tracked it down for the final out of the inning.
Vandy had better luck with runners in scoring position, as the Commodores drove in three runs in the seventh inning to build a comfortable cushion. Schreck notched his second RBI of the contest, beating the shift to drive in Bradfield and chase Murphy from the contest.
After the pitching change, Vanderbilt added two more runs on an opposite-field double from Austin to cap the scoring.
Schreck led Vandy with two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored, while RJ Austin drove in three runs for the Commodores, who won for the 11th time in 12 SEC contests.
With the defeat, the Tigers have dropped eight of their last nine SEC contests after sweeping Tennessee to open the conference slate.
- With the setback, Missouri’s all-time record against Vanderbilt dropped to 5-27
- The Tigers fell to 4-3 in series finales this season
- For just the second time in 12 SEC contests, Mizzou failed to produce a multi-hit performance by at least one hitter
- The Tigers dropped their first home series of the season after winning the first three weekend sets at Taylor Stadium
- By punching out five Commodores, Murphy notched at least five strikeouts for the fourth time this season
- Murphy tossed at least six innings for the fifth time this season
- Tre Morris extended his hitting streak to four games with a second-inning single
- Saturday marked the sixth consecutive contest in which Mizzou’s opponent has scored first
Mizzou embarks on a four-game road trip, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. nonconference meeting with Missouri State Tuesday (April 11) in Springfield.
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