MO State HS Sports

Baseball Drops Pitchers’ Duel to Open Series With NKU

Javyn Pimental

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Northern Kentucky rode a three-run, first-inning home run and a shutdown effort from its pitching staff to 3-1, series-opening victory over University of Missouri baseball Friday evening at Taylor Stadium.

Jake Paulick’s three-run shot in the game’s opening minutes set the tone for the evening, and Tanner Gillis (1-1) followed with 6.0 strong innings, over which he permitted just one Mizzou run on three hits. Nick McClanahan closed out the four-hitter with six strikeouts over 3.0 innings of one-hit relief to earn his first save.

The Tigers (4-5) sustained their second-straight defeat to open the 2024 home slate, but nevertheless received a strong mound effort of their own from the tandem of Bryce Mayer (0-3) and Javyn Pimental, who combined to blank the Norse (3-6) on three hits over the final eight innings.

The game’s pivotal rally started with a one-out walk to Cleary Simpson, followed by a catcher’s interference call that put a second Norse runner aboard. Paulick then worked a full-count against Mayer, before driving the seventh pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left-center for his third round-tripper of the season and a 3-0 NKU lead.

Mizzou responded in the home half of the first, benefitting from a Tucker Moore fly ball to right that fell in untouched for a leadoff double. A Trevor Austin sacrifice moved the runner to third and a wild pitch allowed Moore to trot home with what would prove to be the lone MU run of the contest.

From there, both starters locked into a groove, with Mayer striking out four consecutive NKU hitters to kick off a stretch in which the junior right-hander retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. He allowed just one hit—a third-inning single to Paulick—and fanned a career-high six hitters overall.

Gillis delivered for the Norse as well, wiggling out of a second-inning jam after a pair of one-out walks. He faced just two batters over the minimum over his last four innings, striking out six Tigers in the process.

Pimental picked up where Mayer left off, working around two-out baserunners in the sixth and seventh frames, logging a pair of punchouts in each of those innings to extinguish NKU threats. The left-hander also stranded a pair of runners in the eighth, before working a perfect ninth to end his night.

McClanahan was equally as dominant for NKU after taking over for Gillis to start the seventh, setting down four of the first seven Mizzou hitters he faced via strikeouts. He closed out the win with two more strikeouts in the ninth.

Paulick logged the lone multi-hit performance on the night, going 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.


  • Friday’s announced attendance of 1,124 fans represented the Tigers’ 19th consecutive home crowd of 1,000 or more spectators, extending back to March 15, 2023.
  • Jackson Lovich extended his hit streak to a career-best four games with a fourth-inning single.
  • Lovich has reached base safely via a hit or walk in all nine contests this season.
  • With six strikeouts, Mayer surpassed his previous Mizzou-best total of five punchouts last Friday at San Diego State. His 5.0 innings matched his season-high (also Feb. 23 at SDSU).
  • Pimental also matched his career-high of five strikeouts (Feb. 22 vs. CSU Bakersfield), while his 4.0 innings represented the second-longest of his career (4.1 IP on Feb. 25, 2023 at FIU).
  • With Mayer and Pimental combining for 11 strikeouts on the night, the Tigers reached double-figures for the fifth time in nine outings this season.
  • Mizzou’s one run and four hits marked season-lows in each category.

The Tigers and Norse continue their series with a 2 p.m. (CST) game Saturday at Taylor Stadium.

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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics