COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri baseball team was frustrated repeatedly Tuesday night against Saint Louis, amassing 22 baserunners and 15 walks but scoring just four runs.
The Tigers made those woes at the plate seem like a distant memory Wednesday with a slightly tweaked lineup, bashing the Kansas State Wildcats 17-2 at Taylor Stadium.
"These are nice," Missouri coach Steve Bieser said after the win. "It's always good to not play so much pressure baseball all the time and play the extra-inning games like we have been playing. It was a relief."
Missouri (20-10-1) scored all 17 runs in the first five innings. Tony Ortiz hit a two-run double with the bases loaded in the fourth, and was close enough to a grand slam he didn't start running until the ball had bounced off the wall. Two batters later, Austin James crushed a three-run home run over the fence in left. Both batters were swinging on the first pitch, and both were sitting on fastballs but punished sliders that missed.
"Our approach is we're not trying to take strikes," James said. "If it's a ball in the zone we're going to try to put a good swing on it, and they just happened to throw balls in the zone.
"It's been an approach that we've been trying to work on for a while now, and we get it some days, and some days, like last night, we don't. We just re-focus."
Ortiz went 3-for-3, drove in four, scored three times and walked once.
In all, the Tigers had 12 hits and 11 walks, and none of the Wildcats' seven pitches lasted longer than starter Kasey Ford, who allowed a run in each of the first two innings and was pulled without recording an out in the third after Kameron Misner doubled to lead off and then stole third, Peter Zimmermann walked and stole second and Ortiz singled in Misner.
James finished 3-for-4 and a triple shy of a cycle with six RBI, four runs scored, and was hit by a pitch. He has a powerful bat at third base but started the season slow, and even with Wednesday's outburst has eight hits in 50 at-bats this season.
"That's a guy we're really counting on all year," Bieser said, "and to see him free up and get off some good swings, there was a lot of offensive production today. It's good to see."
Misner drew three walks for the second consecutive game, which gives him 36 this season, tops in the Southeastern Conference. He was 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, an RBI and three runs against Kansas State.
Freshman outfielder Josh Holt Jr. drove in a pair of runs with a double in the fifth inning.
On the mound, freshman right-hander Tommy Springer moved to 2-0 in two starts. Springer got through five innings on 62 pitches, striking out a career-high seven hitters and taking a no-hitter into the fifth.
Trae Robertson, Tray Dillard, Cameron Pferrer and Lukas Veinbergs each threw an inning of relief. Bieser was successful in his goal to not use his weekend reliever corps of Konnor Ash, Ian Bedell and Cameron Dulle.
Kansas State (12-18) scored a run in the seventh and eighth innings, both without the ball advancing out of the infield. The first was unearned, the result of a passed ball and an error, while Pferrer walked in a run in the eighth.
Missouri has a well-earned day of rest to look forward to today before Kentucky comes to town for a weekend series. Friday night's game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. The Tigers are fourth in the East at 3-5-1, while the Wildcats (16-13, 1-8 SEC) are last. Kentucky is 3-7 on the road this season.
"The hope is we are able to carry over what we were able to do here offensively," Bieser said. "And not that we're going to score 17 runs, but if we can carry that type of at-bat over into the series then I think we can have some success offensively."