COLUMBIA, Mo. — Here was LSU on Sunday afternoon, its lineup picked apart by injuries, but with a chance to win a series before it travelled home.
LSU needed someone to step up, to fill the void left by injured starters Zach Watson and Chris Reid. No one did.
As Eric Walker gave up six runs, No. 8 LSU lost 11-5 to Missouri at Taylor Stadium. LSU (23-13, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) didn’t record a hit until the sixth inning, when it already trailed by eight runs.
Missouri (25-12-1, 7-7-1) won a series against LSU for the first time.
“Honestly,” shortstop Josh Smith said, “(we) just didn't come ready to play.”
Ineffective pitching forced LSU into a hole, one too large to climb out of without Watson and Reid. But pitchers must have felt pressure to throw perfectly, Smith said, because LSU went so long without a hit.
“It's tough when you have those guys out,” right fielder Antoine Duplantis said. “You got to try to find a way to win. We couldn't figure out a way to win today.”
After the game, Walker pulled a hood over his head, trying to stay warm as the temperature sat in the low 50s and wind whipped through the stadium.
He pitched just four innings for the second straight week. He allowed a three-run home run. The six runs were a season-high.
“Today, I was out of sync,” Walker said. “As far as stuff, I feel like it was the worst I had all year.”
He said he felt fine in the bullpen. Unable to command his fastball once he reached the mound, he left it over the plate.
“They got too many pitches to hit,” Walker said, “and they hit them.”
Missouri, which had the 12th lowest batting average in the SEC before the weekend, added another two runs against Matthew Beck.
Once LSU got its first hit, a single by Brock Mathis, it chipped away at Missouri’s lead. It trailed 9-5 in the eighth inning.
Then Devin Fontenot gave up a two-run home run that landed on the roof of Missouri’s training facility behind right field, an estimated 457 feet, that all but ended the series.
LSU came to Missouri tied for first place in the SEC Western Division. It lost the series, and it left with injuries to three of its starters. (Pitcher Zack Hess left Friday's game with a groin injury.)
Disappointed but not yet panicked over the fate of its season, LSU gathered its bags after the game. It loaded onto the bus for a drive to the airport, then a flight back home, away from this place.
“We just got to regroup,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “We need to take advantage of being at home three of the next five weekends. Get these guys back healthy and tighten things up a little bit, and I think we'll be OK.”