No. 22 Missouri pulls away late to top Kansas
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - No. 15/21 Missouri baseball rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to take down rival Kansas, 8-3, Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
After the Jayhawks erased a three-run deficit to even the score at 3-3 in the eighth, Justin Colon's sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead run, before Hank Zeisler capped the decisive rally with a three-run double.
Logan Lunceford had a career day on the mound for Mizzou, working 6.0 shutout innings and striking out nine batters, both of which marked career highs for the freshman. He allowed just two hits and two walks and dominated the Jayhawks throughout, retiring 10 consecutive hitters at one point.
Zeisler delivered the first of his two critical blows in the second inning, driving his ninth home run of the season over the wall in right for a two-run shot. The graduate transfer finished the night 2-for-5 with five RBIs.
Mizzou added to its advantage in the fourth, as Ty Wilmsmeyer coaxed a free pass, then advanced to second on his eleventh steal on the year. Colon brought him around with a single to right, extending Mizzou's lead to 3-0.
Lunceford cruised through the middle innings before yielding to his bullpen in the seventh. KU promptly loaded the bases on three consecutive walks, before Kyle Potthoff induced a 5-4-3 double play grounder and a fly ball to right to escape the inning with a 3-1 lead.
But the Jayhawks pushed home two runs to knot the score at 3-3 in the eighth. Cole Elvis pulled KU to within one run on his double to left, before Luke Leto brought home the equalizing run with a sacrifice fly.
Mizzou's key rally started with Cam Chick reaching on a hit by pitch to lead off the ninth. Wilmsmeyer doubled to left-center to give the Tigers a pair of runners in scoring position, and Colon followed by lifting a fly ball to center, deep enough for Chick to score easily from third.
Luke Mann delivered a run-scoring single to make it a 5-3 game, before Dalton Bargo dropped a base hit into right and Trevor Austin drew a nine-pitch walk. Zeisler capitalized, lining a 2-2 pitch to right to chase home all three baserunners.
Following the Tigers' five-run ninth, Daniel Wissler (2-0) closed out the win with a scoreless frame. The left-hander wrapped up the victory with 1.2 hitless innings, including a pair of strikeouts.
Colon drove in two runs, while reaching safely in three of his four trips to the plate, while Bargo added a two-hit performance.
- The Tigers extend their all-time series lead over the Jayhawks to 218-129-2, including wins in each of the last two meetings.
- Wednesday's game marked the fifth contest between the Tigers and Jayhawks at Kauffman Stadium, and the first since 2011; the victory was Mizzou's first over Kansas in the setting.
- Mizzou improved to 5-2 in Major League ballparks over the last four seasons; MU logged 2-1 records in both the 2023 College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and the 2020 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
- After cracking the polls for the first time since 2019, the Tigers secured their first victory as a ranked team since a May 2019 victory over eventual national champion Vanderbilt.
- Lunceford logged career highs in both innings pitched (6.0) and strikeouts (9).
- Lunceford's nine strikeouts are the most by a Mizzou pitcher since Tony Neubeck sat down nine against Oklahoma State on opening day (Feb. 17).
- Zeisler hit his ninth home run of the season and matched his career high for RBIs (5).
- Zeisler's five RBIs on the day matched a career high from two previous outings, including Mizzou's 10-8 victory over Lamar on March 15.
Mizzou will open a three-game Southeastern Conference series with South Carolina Friday (March 24) evening at Founders Park in Columbia, S.C.