COLUMBIA — The Missouri baseball team put a convenient bow on its mid-week domination this season Wednesday afternoon.
The Tigers, now 31-15-1, finished Tuesday and Wednesday games in 2019 with a perfect 14-0 record after demolishing Southeast Missouri — Missouri coach Steve Bieser's former team — 21-6 at Taylor Stadium. It's the second straight season Missouri has gone undefeated in mid-week games, going 12-0 in 2018.
"We try to dominate every single non-conference game," junior shortstop Chris Cornelius said. "Every game, but especially when you come into one of these games, you want to do that to another team."
The Tigers opened the season with a nine-day trip to Florida, and flew home to Columbia with a 4-4 record. They're 17-1 in non-conference games since, the lone blemish a 6-3 loss against South Dakota State at a neutral site at the beginning of March.
"We weren't very happy with that," Bieser said of the team's first eight games in Florida. "But to go the rest of the non-conference season, you've got to be pretty pleased with how we respond in non-conference play."
The 21 runs are a season-high for Missouri and the most since beating Florida International 22-1 in the second game of the 2018 season. The Tigers finished with 20 hits, including five doubles and two home runs.
Southeast Missouri scored in the first without getting a ball out of the infield. Starting pitcher Trae Robertson hit leadoff man Connor Basler, who moved up on a wild pitch, stole third and beat the throw home on a fielder's choice. But Alex Peterson made two great plays in left, one a diving catch, the other a pinpoint throw to home plate after a two-out double to prevent a second run and end the inning.
In the bottom of the frame, Paul Gomez drew a leadoff walk and Cornelius, who raised his batting average from .333 to .348 with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, drove a home run to center field, and the Tigers never trailed again.
Cornelius' average was at .317 after last week's Missouri State game, the lowest it's been all season, but he was 7-for-13 this past weekend against South Carolina, and that .348 average not only leads the team but is a top-10 mark in the Southeastern Conference. A minor correction to his swing he lost from the start of the season has made the difference.
"Something one of my old coaches mentioned to me, a little hitch," Cornelius said. "So just dropping my hands and bringing them back up, has allowed my path to be right through the baseball."
The Tigers hit the ball hard all day. Peterson hit his first home run of the season to left in the bottom of the second, and Missouri had 12 runs and 10 hits after three innings. Both Cornelius and Kameron Misner, who went 3-for-6, singled twice each in the third inning, in which the team registered 15 at-bats and eight runs on seven hits against three different pitchers.
Bieser got a chance to empty his bench and his bullpen, and got catcher Chad McDaniel, who has played in 44 of the team's 47 games, came out for Tre Morris after that third inning. The Tigers had four different players with multi-hit games: Cornelius, Misner, Peterson and Austin James, who was 2-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI, matching Peterson for the team high.
Missouri added three runs in the sixth and six in the seventh to put away the Redhawks.
The Tigers are in third place in the SEC East with a 10-10-1 record, 2 games ahead of their next opponent, Tennessee. Missouri was ranked No. 24 by the most recent D1baseball poll after sweeping South Carolina, while the Volunteers dropped out following a sweep at Arkansas.
The Tigers close the season at Vanderbilt and host Florida, and need to find four or five wins in the next nine games to feel good about their chances of playing in the program's first NCAA regional since 2014. Missouri won 14 SEC games in Bieser's first season but were left out of the tournament field.