By Erik Hall
COLUMBIA — Vanderbilt and Missouri baseball teams combined to score 11 runs on Friday night, but one misinterpretation in the sixth inning propelled the No. 9 Commodores to an 8-3 win at Taylor Stadium.
Second base umpire Randy Watkins pointed at Vanderbilt baserunner Xavier Turner in a sixth-inning rundown. The Tigers defense thought Watkins indicated Turner was ruled out for running out of the baseline. Instead, Watkins pointed to indicate Missouri shortstop Josh Lester missed the tag on Turner.
“Our guys thought he was out of the baseline, and when he points like that, that’s what he’s pointing at,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said.
Watkins’ point at Turner caused the Missouri infielders to pause until they realized Turner was not out. “I thought he was out of the baseline; because I had a half dive towards him and still couldn’t get him, so I thought he was way out,” Lester said. Turner was eventually tagged out, but a run scored to put Vanderbilt up 5-3.
“Four to three, five to three; mentally, that’s a big difference,” Jamieson said.
The umpires did not immediately award the run to Vanderbilt. After a meeting, home plate umpire Tony Walsh left the meeting and pointed at home to count the run.
Jamieson bolted onto the field and argued with Walsh’s ruling including pointing in Walsh’s face. The Missouri dugout yelled and gestured in rage, and third-base umpire Morris Hodges walked toward the Missouri dugout and signaled for the players to calm down while Jamieson continued his heated discussion with Walsh on the field.
“The team knows that with who we were playing against and the pitchers we were seeing, a two-run difference is a big difference,” Jamieson said. “I think it’s frustration. We haven’t had a lot of calls. I think the culmination of the season of not getting calls and giving up another run, all those types of things.”
Missouri led 3-2 after five innings and had seven hits, but struggled for the remainder of the game. After the controversial ruling, Missouri managed two hits, zero extra-base hits and no runs.
The loss was Missouri’s seventh consecutive loss in Southeastern Conference action.
“We need to get that monkey off our back. We need to win a game,” Jamieson said.
The Tigers are 20-25 overall, 6-16 in the SEC. Missouri and Vanderbilt return to action Saturday at 2 p.m.
“Vanderbilt’s probably the most talented team we’ve played yet in the league — pitching, positionaly,” Jamieson said. “They’re starting to play really, really well right now.”
Note: Newly hired Missouri men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson was in attendance for Friday’s baseball game. … Missouri starting pitcher Eric Anderson is unavailable to pitch this weekend after injuring his arm last weekend at Florida.