MO State HS Sports

No. 3 Tennessee Completes Series Sweep of Baseball With 3-2 Decision

Carter Rustad

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 3 Tennessee made a three-run first inning stand, riding another strong effort from its pitching staff to a 3-2 victory over University of Missouri baseball, wrapping up a three-game Southeastern Conference series sweep of the Tigers Saturday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Dean Curley’s two-out, two-run single capped the Volunteers’ decisive first-inning rally, and three UT relievers combined to blank the Tigers (19-26, 6-15 SEC) over the final eight innings. Nate Snead (7-1) worked a scoreless inning and two-thirds to earn the victory, before Aaron Combs and Kirby Connell combined to strike out four Tigers over the final 3 1/3 innings.

The Tigers dropped their second-straight one-run decision to the Vols (37-7, 15-6 SEC), both by matching 3-2 scores. After surrendering six home runs in the opening game of the series on Thursday, Mizzou pitching kept the Vols in the park for the rest of the weekend. The Tigers limited one of the nation’s top offenses to six runs over the final two contests of the series, thanks in large part to the work of Carter Rustad and Bryce Mayer in the finale. The duo combined to keep the Vols off the scoreboard for the final seven innings, with Mayer allowing just one hit over his 3.0 innings of relief to keep the Tigers within striking distance.

Mizzou, which out-hit the Vols by a 9-8 count, received a lift from Danny Corona, who registered his first three-hit game as a Tiger with a 3-for-4 afternoon. But MU couldn’t produce the equalizing run in the late innings, despite putting at least one runner in scoring position in three of the final five frames.

The Tigers wasted no time in sparking their offense, as Brock Daniels singled on the first pitch of the contest from Zander Sechrist, then swiped second to set up an early scoring opportunity. Trevor Austin took advantage, driving a run-scoring base hit up the middle to bring in Daniels for a 1-0 Mizzou lead.

But the Volunteers responded in the bottom half of the inning against Rustad (4-6), using back-to-back singles from Christian Moore and Blake Burke to start a three-run rally. UT evened the score on Kavares Tears’ one-out single, combined with a Tigers throwing error, before seizing the lead on Curley’s two-run single that made it a 3-1 game.

Both starting pitchers found their footing, as Sechrist and Rustad combined to permit just three hits over the ensuing three innings. Mizzou managed to put just two batters aboard, drawing a leadoff walk in the third before Danny Corona singled with two out in the fourth.

Conversely, Rustad silenced the UT offense by allowing just two second-inning hits before retiring the last 10 batters he faced in succession. The right-hander finished his day with four strikeouts and six hits allowed over 5.0 innings, marking his sixth outing of at least five innings this season.

The Tigers’ patience at the plate paid off in the fifth, as Kaden Peer and Drew Culbertson coaxed back-to-back free passes to start the inning. A failed bunt attempt resulted in the Tigers’ lead runner being thrown out at third—one of two MU baserunners to be cut down on the basepaths in the inning. But Jackson Lovich delivered a run-scoring double, chasing Culbertson home from first to pull the Tigers to within one run.

But Mizzou would come up empty in the sixth, with UT cutting down another runner on the basepaths after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice moved the baserunner into scoring position. In the eighth, the Tigers generated another scoring chance thanks to back-to-back hits by Matt Garcia and Corona. But a fielder’s choice ground out and a strikeout derailed Mizzou’s last real threat of the day.

Connell picked up his third save of the season by dispatching the Tigers in order in the ninth, capping two shutout innings by the left-hander.


  • With the setback, the Tigers’ series lead over the Vols was trimmed to 17-16.
  • Mateo Serna saw his career-best five-game hit streak come to a close with his 0-for-3 performance.
  • Corona stretched his hit streak to four straight games, matching a previous four-game streak (Feb. 16-22) as the longest of his Mizzou career.
  • Corona also recorded his third multi-hit game as a Tiger, finishing 3-for-4.
  • Mayer logged 3.0 scoreless innings Saturday, giving him 7.0 scoreless frames over two appearances for the week (April 22-27).

Mizzou returns to Taylor Stadium Tuesday (April 30) to open its final home stand of the season with a 6 p.m. nonconference matchup with Lindenwood.

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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics