COLUMBIA, Mo. — Left-hander TJ Sikkema struck out 10 and allowed one run on three hits over seven innings to lift Missouri to a 4-1 win Saturday over eighth-ranked LSU, tying the Southeastern Conference baseball series at a win apiece.
The rubber match between LSU (24-12 overall, 9-5 SEC) and Missouri (24-12-1, 6-7-1) is Sunday at Noon. The game will be broadcast over the LSU Sports Radio Network (WDGL-98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and televised on the SEC Network.
LSU won Friday’s opener 12-11 in 10 innings. The Tigers will be going for their fourth SEC series victory in five tries this season.
Missouri defeated LSU for the first time in eight meetings at Columbia and just the second time in 17 matchups overall. The other Mizzou victory was March 17, 2018, at Alex Box Stadium.
Sikkema (4-2) threw 113 pitches (77 strikes) and kept his earned run average at 1.27 He has struck out 64 and walked 16 in 56 2/3 innings.
“Sikkema was a very tough matchup for us and we didn’t generate consistent offense against him,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “We had opportunities throughout the game but we weren’t able to come up with the clutch hit with runners in scoring position. We’re battling injuries to significant players right now , so we’ll re-group and come back on Sunday with a chance to win the series. We’ve got to do the best we can with the players we have and believe that they can get the job done.”
LSU played Saturday’s game without centerfielder Zach Watson – the Tigers’ leading hitter suffered a groin injury on Friday night – and third baseman Chris Reid, LSU’s third-leading hitter, had to leave Saturday’s game after the third inning due to a hamstring strain.
In addition, LSU’s No.1 starting pitcher, right-hander Zack Hess, had to exit Friday’s game in the first inning after pulling a groin muscle.
The Tigers narrowed Missouri’s lead to 2-1 in the seventh, when third baseman Hal Hughes singled and moved to second when a pitch to Giovanni DiGiacomo bounced on home plate. DiGiacomo moved Hughes over on a ground ball to second, and catcher Brock Mathis got the runner home with his bouncer to short.
In the bottom of the seventh, Alex Peterson’s one-out double chased LSU starter Cole Henry (3-2), and reliever Chase Costello uncorked a wild pitch that moved the runner to third. Missouri took advantage, regaining a two-run lead on Clayton Peterson’s sacrifice fly.
Costello walked Chris Cornelius and gave up a ground ball single to Kameron Misner before Peter Zimmerman’s sinking line drive gave Mizzou a 4-1 advantage.
LSU’s Daniel Cabrera led off the ninth with a double, but he was tagged out in a rundown when he strayed too far from second on Cade Beloso’s grounder.
Missouri reliever Ian Bedell, who worked a perfect eighth, was aided when first baseman Tony Ortiz made an over-the-shoulder catch for the second out of the ninth. DiGiacomo flied out to end the game and cement Bedell’s third save.
Missouri scored first on Paul Gomez’ two-out double in the second. The 1-0 score held until the fifth when Henry walked Misner with the bases loaded.
Henry allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out five and threw 91 pitches (59 strikes).