By Caroline Hecker
The Missouri baseball team extended its conference losing streak to eight games after falling to No. 9 Vanderbilt 5-1 on Saturday at Taylor Stadium.
The Tigers looked solid with a strong first and second inning led by starting pitcher John Miles.
But in the top of the third, the Missouri coaching staff realized something was wrong with the pitcher.
“He felt something in his bicep during the second inning,” coach Tim Jamieson said. When he started throwing some really wild pitches, we definitely knew something was wrong.”
Missouri shortstop Josh Lester, who finished 1-for-4 with the team’s only RBI, also noticed something odd with Miles.
“The first two innings everything he threw was on point, but when he threw that ball behind that guy, then I knew something was wrong,” Lester said. “I think it threw our pitching staff for a loop more than anybody.”
Jamieson said Miles possibly suffered a bicep strain, but an official diagnosis won’t be made until at least Monday.
Peter Fairbanks came to the Tigers’ rescue, pitching seven innings and set a career high with six strikeouts.
“I was fine coming in today, I didn’t throw that many pitches last night so I felt good, my stuff felt good, my body felt good, I was ready to go,” Fairbanks said.
A strong Vanderbilt pitching staff proved too difficult for Missouri to handle.
“[Carson] Fulmer definitely is a quick pitcher, he tries to get batters off their rhythm and he’s just really quick between pitches,” Lester said. “It rushes you, but I know Dylan Kelly did a really good job of calling timeout when he wasn’t ready and the umpire was really good at giving it. So that’s how we tried to disrupt his rhythm,”
During the third inning, Vanderbilt scored five runs and put the Tigers in a deep hole.
“I think a five run inning is hard to come back from no matter who you’re playing,” Jamieson said. “Each loss saps a little bit more out of them, but offensively I thought we competed. Execution wise, we could be better. We’re facing a really good pitching staff and I thought our guys did a good job. “
While Fairbanks did not allow an earned run, the potential loss of Miles weakens the Tiger bullpen.
“It doesn’t help us, because that would mean Anderson, Goodrich and Miles are all down,” Jamieson said. “It just leaves us with the guys at the top of the rotation and they’ll have to be even better. Steele would have to go in the starting rotation and it weakens your bullpen.”
Jamieson says he’s not panicking because the Tigers no longer play during the week.
“Weekday games are good, but it’s the weekend series that mean and count a lot more,” he said. “That’s what we’re all focused on now.”
The Tigers will wrap up the three game series with Vanderbilt on Sunday at 1 p.m.