KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Mizzou completed a sweep of Tennessee with an 8-2 win Saturday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium to finish the regular season at 35-21, the most wins for Mizzou since 2009 and the most regular season wins since 2008. With the game tied 2-2, Mizzou scored four runs in the sixth inning to break the game open and secure its second SEC sweep of 2017.
Mizzou closes the regular season by winning the final six games, including the final two SEC series over South Carolina and at Tennessee. Mizzou has won seven of the last 10 games and finishes the regular season with nine RPI top-50 wins and 13 top-100 wins. That sets up a situation where the Tigers can play themselves into the NCAA Tournament at next week's SEC Tournament. Mizzou will play an opponent at a time yet to be determined. Mizzou will be either the No. 9 or No. 10 seed at the tournament.
Junior RHP Bryce Montes De Oca (Lawrence, Kan.) earned the win Saturday to improve to 4-5 on the year. He tossed 5.0 innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) with six strikeouts and two walks. Mizzou broke open a 2-2 game with four runs in the sixth inning and another in the seventh. The Tigers finish the season going 10-5 on the road in SEC play.
After holding the Vols off the board in the first two games while boasting a 21.0-inning team shutout streak, Mizzou finally allowed Tennessee to get on the board in the first inning. Senior 2B Jeff Moberg hit a leadoff homer on a 2-2 fastball from Montes De Oca and then tacked on another on a sacrifice fly, taking a 2-0 lead after the opening frame.
Mizzou got those two runs back in the top of the second inning as the Tigers loaded the bases after singles from Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.) and Kameron Misner (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) and a walk by Kirby McGuire (Round Rock, Texas). A sacrifice fly by Chris Cornelius (St. Louis, Mo.) and an RBI groundout from Alex Samples (Bridgeport, Texas) tied the game at 2-2. Mizzou nearly went ahead as nine-hole hitter Matt Berler (Hoover, Ala.) roped a ball up the middle, but Tennessee SS Max Bartlett made a great play moving to his left to save a hit and a run.
Both pitchers settled in from there as Montes De Oca retired 10 straight until a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. He pitched around that but again ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning as he allowed a leadoff double. A bunt moved the go-ahead run to third, but the big Tiger right-hander got a pair of strikeouts to strand the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
That gave the momentum back to Mizzou as it loaded the bases with no outs in the very next frame. McGuire then dumped a 1-2 pitch into left field for an RBI single and his second go-ahead hit of the series. Mizzou then got an RBI single from Cornelius and a big two-run single by Thursday night's hero Berler.
Mizzou tacked on another run on an RBI single in the seventh inning by Bond. Junior RHP Andy Toelken (Green Cove Springs, Fla.) tossed shutout innings in the sixth and seventh. DH Trey Harris (Powder Springs, Ga.) roped a two-out double to score another in the eighth inning. Toelken then threw a shutout eighth inning and Mizzou closed it out from there to seal the win.