COLUMBIA, Mo. - Mizzou junior RHP Tanner Houck (Collinsville, Ill.) turned in his first complete game of the year as he helped Mizzou Baseball even its series with South Carolina with a 5-3 win Saturday afternoon (May 13) at Taylor Stadium. Houck struck out a season-high 10 batters while scattering just five hits and three runs to earn his first win since March 17 at Alabama. He got five runs of support Saturday; the most Mizzou's offense has given him in SEC play this year.
Mizzou goes to 30-21 on the year and 10-16 in SEC play while South Carolina goes to 30-20 and 12-14 in SEC play. Houck is now eighth on Mizzou's all-time career innings pitched list with 296.1 while his 288 strikeouts are the fourth-most in program history and second among three-year players, trailing only Kyle Gibson (304). The complete game is Houck's first since May 19 at Kentucky last year.
After Houck struck out his eighth victim on his 112th pitch to end the eighth inning, Mizzou head coach Steve Bieser had little doubt as he sent Houck back to the mound for the ninth inning. Houck struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth and got a lazy fly out to right to end the game, capping a memorable Saturday afternoon in what could be his final start at Taylor Stadium.
Houck mowed through the South Carolina order on 14 pitches in the first inning, picking up a pair of strikeouts and pitching around a two-out bloop single. The Tiger offense then gave Houck some early run support, getting an RBI single up the middle by Robbie Glendinning (Scarborough, Australia) in the bottom of the first.
South Carolina's Jacob Olson then tagged Houck for a two-out, solo homer on a 1-1 pitch to tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning. Houck then walked the next batter and hit the next, but got a 4-3 groundout to send the game to the bottom of the second inning.
Jonah Bride, who had the game-winning homer for South Carolina Friday night, again delivered a go-ahead hit in the third inning, roping an RBI double down the left field line to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead. Houck was again victimized by a two-out solo homer in the fifth inning, this time by Carlos Cortes as the Gamecocks had a 3-1 lead halfway through the game.
Mizzou got that run back and more in the bottom half of the fifth inning. SS Chris Cornelius (St. Louis, Mo.) ripped a double to center to score Matt Berler (Hoover, Ala.), cutting the lead to 3-2. The play was challenged by South Carolina, but after a review, the umpire crew ruled that Berler tagged home before the tag. With two outs, Glendinning then delivered his second RBI single of the game to score Cornelius, tying the game at 3-3.
Freshman Kameron Misner (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) hit his fifth homer of the year, and his first since April 12 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, to give Mizzou the lead back at 4-3 to open the bottom of the sixth inning. South Carolina got the leadoff man aboard in the seventh inning on an error by Cornelius, but he was erased on a slick 6-4-3 double play and Houck picked up his seventh strikeout of the game to get Mizzou through the seventh with a 4-3 lead.
Junior Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.) gave Houck an insurance run with a two-out, RBI single through the left side in the bottom of the seventh. It was all Houck from there as he dominated the Gamecock order in the eighth and ninth innings.
The rubber game of the three-game series is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Taylor Stadium.
Potent Quotables Head Coach Steve Bieser
On sending Houck out for the ninth inning... "There was no strong thoughts to take Houck out in the ninth. When I saw his total, I thought we could get this under 130 and that was the hope. He's a big strong guy, late in the season, perfect day. If you are going to stretch someone out, it was the perfect day to not have him tighten up. The game flowed really smooth. Obviously, he was still really strong in the ninth the way he went out and had that adrenaline going in the ninth. It's a great way to send him off. That's his last time he's going to step on that mound in game action. Great way to send him off. Probably couldn't pick a better story than what happened with him today. Glad it worked out."
RHP Tanner Houck "I mean I couldn't write a better script going out on a win, the complete game is a dream. I want to do that every time I go out but it's even better in possibly my last start at home as a Missouri Tiger. It got me kind of emotional seeing my mom after. She's the real reason I'm here, doing everything for me when I was younger. Real emotional seeing her after the game."