KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Mizzou junior INF Matt Berler (Hoover, Ala.) hit a two-out grand slam in the top of the fifth inning to lift Mizzou Baseball over Tennessee, 5-0, Thursday night in the first of a three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Mizzou loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth inning and Tennessee nearly escaped before Berler, the nine-hole hitter, pounded a 2-1 fastball over the fence in left field to clear the bases and break a 0-0 tie.
Mizzou moves to 33-21 on the year and 12-16 in SEC play and it has now won four in a row. The Tigers’ 33 wins are the most during the regular season for the program since 2008 when the Tigers won 37 before entering postseason play. The 33 wins match the most for Mizzou since winning 35 in 2009.
Freshman LHP T.J. Sikkema (DeWitt, Iowa) was brilliant in his second career start, earning his team-best eighth win of the season. That is the most wins for a Mizzou true freshman since current Mizzou junior Tanner Houck (Collinsville, Ill.) had eight during his freshman year in 2015. Sikkema tossed Mizzou’s first complete game shutout since Reggie McClain shutout Sam Houston State on Feb. 20, 2015. He struck out seven and walked none while scattering just four hits. The shutout on Thursday was Mizzou’s fifth of the year and first since May 2, 2017, against Murray State. It was Mizzou’s first SEC Shutout since March 17 at Alabama in the SEC opener.
The game was a pitcher’s duel early as Tennessee starter Hunter Martin retired the first 12 Mizzou batters while Sikkema retired 12 of the first 15 batters he faced. Junior C Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.) was the first Mizzou batter to get to Martin, dropping in a leadoff single in the fifth inning. That led to a bases-loaded, no-out spot following another infield hit and an error. Tennessee then retired the next two Mizzou batters and looked like it would escape unscathed. But Berler hit his first Division I homer for a grand slam to give Mizzou a 4-0 lead.
Mizzou added insurance as Kameron Misner (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) scored on a fielder’s choice in the top of the seventh inning, giving Mizzou a 5-0 lead.
From there, Sikkema was brilliant, shutting down the Vols for the final three frames to seal the win.
Mizzou and Tennessee will play game two of the series Friday at 5 p.m.
— Mizzou Athletics —