With a pair of baserunners aboard and one out in the second inning, Missouri first baseman Tony Ortiz had a prime opportunity to give his team an important early lead.
He wasted no time, uncoiling on a pitch over the heart of the plate for a three-run homer. After watching the ball soar over the right-field wall, Ortiz flexed his muscles and passionately screamed as he rounded first.
His three-run jack opened up the scoring for Missouri in a dominant 11-5 victory over No. 8 LSU. Sunday's win gave Missouri its second straight series victory in Southeastern Conference play and its first over LSU in program history.
"This is definitely a statement win for our program," Missouri head coach Steve Bieser said. "We're here to stay, and we're here to compete, and that's exactly the message that I want our players to understand: That every series we go into, it doesn't matter if you go down 0-1 like we did in this series. You've got to continue to battle and if you do enough right things, you've got a chance to win a series."
Missouri scored eight of its 11 runs in the second through fifth innings, with at least one runner crossing home in each of the four frames. Every Missouri starter got a hit Sunday, and five had two or more. Center fielder Kameron Misner continued his offensive resurgence with three RBI and a pair of hits, including a double and two-run, 457-foot tank that smacked the top of the Devine Pavilion roof.
"Hits are contagious," said Missouri right fielder Clayton Peterson, who had two base knocks of his own. "When one person hits, the entire team starts hitting."
The early potency of Missouri's offense helped starter Art Joven settle down quickly in his SEC debut. The southpaw held a no-hitter until the sixth inning; a ground ball in between third baseman Paul Gomez and shortstop Chris Cornelius thwarted any chance of history for Joven. He ended the day with six strikeouts, three hits and no earned runs in 6⅔ innings.
Taking two out of three from the eighth-ranked team in the nation greatly enhances Missouri's NCAA Tournament résumé. The Tigers haven't made a Regional appearance since 2012, but that scenario looks more and more likely each week.
Missouri has a series victory over a top-10 opponent in LSU, took home another series against No. 15 Ole Miss and split its series with No. 12 Texas A&M. Doing all that and taking care of midweek opponents (11-1 this year, 9-0 since SEC play began) looks like enough on paper to make the Tournament.
Not only are those accomplishments important for Missouri's postseason hopes, but they'll also stick out to the top-25 voters. Missouri received votes in the coaches poll last week for the first time all season, ranking 38th in the nation. A pair of wins against the No. 8 team in the country should propel Missouri up Monday's rankings considerably, possibly giving Missouri its first top 25 ranking since 2017, when it rattled off 20 straight wins prior to conference play.
"I believe Missouri is a top-25 club," Bieser said. "I believe our pitching staff separates us, and I believe as we continue to make more progress offensively, this can be a pretty tough club."
Missouri has another chance to bolster its résumé immediately. It plays Missouri State on Tuesday in Springfield and will then travel to Athens, Georgia, for a three-game set with No. 2 Georgia.
Supervising editor is Brendan Lavell.