COLUMBIA - The No. 9 Missouri Tigers split a doubleheader with the Murray State Racers on Wednesday afternoon.
The Tigers came out victorious in a wild game one, overcoming Murray State's four-run sixth inning that tied the game to pull out the 5-4 win. Missouri fell behind in game two and came up short in their seventh inning rally, losing 3-2.
In the first game, Missouri broke the scoreless tie in the third inning with a three-run frame. Ashtin Stephens led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a throwing error by the third baseman. After Jenna Marston walked, Mackenzie Sykes singled to right-center field, bringing home Stephens for the first run of the game. After Ashley Fleming walked to load the bases, Kelsea Roth plated a pair with a base hit back up the middle.
The Tigers added another run in the fifth inning to push their lead to 4-0. With the bases loaded, Stephens lifted a fly ball to shallow left field, and Corrin Genovese beat the throw to the plate, scoring on the sacrifice fly.
Freshman pitcher Bailey Erwin cruised through five shutout innings and was replaced in the circle by Fleming in the top of the sixth, who was making her first pitching appearance since last season. Fleming ran into trouble, giving up a walk and two bunt singles to load the bases with nobody out. After getting a pop out, Fleming fell behind the next hitter 3-0, which forced head coach Ehren Earleywine to bring Erwin back in.
Erwin would walk the batter who was ahead 3-0, bringing in the first Racer run of the game. Ellyn Troup then lined a double to the wall in right-center field, clearing the bases and evening the score at 4-4. Troup moved up to third on the play, but Erwin kept the game tied by inducing two ground outs to end the frame.
Fleming avenged her rough outing in the circle by hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, putting Mizzou back ahead 5-4. It was Fleming's 13th home run of the season and 40th of her career, making her the fourth player in Tiger history to hit 40 or more home runs.
Erwin worked a 1-2-3 seventh to improve to 7-0 on the season. She tossed 6.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Sykes led the offense with two hits, while Roth's two RBI were tops on the team.
In the second game, the teams were scoreless until the fourth inning, when Murray State took their first lead of the day with a three-spot in the inning. Mo Ramsey belted an RBI triple and scored on a bunt single by Alexa Becker that stopped dead a few inches off the first base foul line, making it 2-0. Kristin Nottelmann then hit Ellyn Troup to load the bases and walked in a run on a four-pitch walk to Stephanie Edwards.
Mizzou had chances in the fourth and fifth innings but couldn't cut into Murray State's lead. In the fourth, with a runner on third and one out, Lindsey Muller roped a liner between short and third, but the Murray State shortstop made a great diving play and doubled Corwin off third to end the inning. The Tigers put another runner in scoring position in the fifth but came up empty again.
The Tigers added two runs in the seventh and loaded the bases with only one out, but the Racers held on to pull out the victory. The first two batters, Nicole Hudson and Muller, each reached on base hits to start the inning. Sykes then drew a pinch hit walk, and Rachel Hay singled up the middle to drive in two runs. Stephens laid down a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position, forcing the Racers to intentionally walk Marston, but they got out of the jam by striking out Kayla Kingsley and getting Fleming to pop out.
Missouri hits the road this weekend for their final non-conference game of the season. The Tigers will travel to Eugene, Ore., for a three game series with the No. 12 Oregon Ducks.