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Culled shot: First homer for Cullum as No. 18 MU beats SIUE

April 5, 2018

Isaiah Cullum is a human barometer.

Missouri senior outfielder Trey Harris habitually uses Cullum’s immense batting-practice power as a “barometer” of the wind, which, at Taylor Stadium, usually blows in.

“If he can’t get it out,” Harris said, “then I have no shot.”

Cullum’s needle swung toward success Wednesday night. For the first time as a Tiger, the junior transfer from Bushnell, Florida, homered. And Cullum’s blast was no cheap shot — it was so deep to left field no defender made an effort to keep it in the park.

“We weren’t surprised. We’ve seen him do it all fall,” Harris said of the Tigers’ reaction to Cullum’s blast. “That’s not the farthest one I’ve seen him hit.”

Harris led off the fourth inning. He homered off the scoreboard in left-center field.

The two home runs, a rarity in Missouri’s home ballpark, represented the mercury in the barometer. Cullum’s blast, Harris’ homer and three runs batted in, and a dominant pitching performance moved Missouri past Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 12-1..

Fittingly, on a night where so much else went right for Cullum, the final out of Wednesday’s game was a pop-up in foul territory near the first-base dugout. Cullum tracked it, got under it, and fell onto his knees as the ball fell into his glove.

Pitching by committee

MU coach Steve Bieser let starter Tyler LaPlante pitch all of three innings Wednesday before turning things over to his bullpen, hoping to save the left-hander for a relief appearance during the Tigers’ weekend series against Alabama.

A host of first-year Tigers entered in LaPlante’s role. Junior transfer Giovanni Lopez pitched the fourth. Four freshmen: Luke Anderson, Konnor Ash, Ryan Rickett and Cameron Pferrer each tossed an inning. The only SIUE (7-19) run came against Ash in the sixth.

Junior Brian Sharp, Missouri’s only two-way player, drew a pinch-hit walk in the seventh and pitched the ninth.

Misner pulled from lineup

Sophomore Kameron Misner was slotted in center field when MU published its original lineup. He didn’t play at all Wednesday, though. Junior Connor Brumfield subbed in for Misner and took over center field and the No. 2 spot in the order.

“It was just a good day to give Kam a day off,” Bieser said. “He’s been going really hard, and with the cold weather and all those things, it was the right time to let him sit back and just watch a game.”

Tigers prep for Alabama

The Tigers’ (22-7, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) game scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Busch Stadium against No. 23 Missouri State was canceled due to unsafe weather conditions, and is unlikely to be made up, according to Bieser

So Wednesday night’s game represented Missouri’s only midweek tuneup before an important weekend series with Alabama (18-12, 3-6 ).

The three-game set begins 6:30 p.m. Friday at Taylor Stadium. Friday’s forecast foreshadows future weather problems, however. There is a 90 percent chance of rain and a possibility of snow.