Saturday, nearly 121 years after Kansas University kicked it off with a 22-10 football victory over arch-rival Missouri in 1891, the historic Border War series between KU and Mizzou ended at KU’s Hoglund Ballpark with a 6-3 victory for Missouri’s baseball team and a rather calm and cordial exchange of handshakes.
For the rest of time, or at least until they meet again somewhere, somehow, in some sport, KU supporters will spin it as the Jayhawks (22-32 overall, 7-16 Big 12) winning the final series between the two bitter rivals. At the same time, MU fans likely will point out that the Tigers won the final game. Maybe it’s not dead after all.
Following Saturday’s victory, Mizzou coach Tim Jamieson told reporters that he hoped the Tigers and Jayhawks could find a way to continue the Border War in the future by scheduling a mid-week, non-conference game.
“That’s something we’d be very open to in the future,” KU coach Ritch Price said. “I’m on record as saying it’s sad that this series is ending. We wanted to continue the (mid-week) series at Kauffman Stadium this year, but they canceled it.”
Now, the only way the two will meet again in any sport in the future is if they meet in the postseason or if one side or the other decides to make all the talk of potential match-ups a reality.
With both teams headed to Oklahoma City next week, that potentially distant meeting could come sooner than later. The Jayhawks will be the No. 7 seed and Mizzou will be seeded sixth. While that storyline adds a little drama to the whole thing, Price was more concerned with discussing just how important making the tournament was for his young ballclub.
“We need the experience of going to Brick Town for this team to continue to grow,” he said. “Obviously, it was a positive weekend, winning the series. We would’ve liked to finish it off with a sweep today, but they pitched better than we did and they swung the bats much better than they did the first two days.”
After playing nearly flawless baseball for the first two games of the series and earning the two victories they needed to qualify for next week’s Big 12 tournament, the Jayhawks suffered a letdown early on Saturday. An error allowed the Tigers to plate two runs in the top of the first inning, and MU added two more in the third to build a 4-0 lead. Just as it did during the first two games of the series, the early lead held up and the Tigers (28-26, 10-14) walked away with a victory as a few MU fans in the stands chanted “S-E-C, S-E-C” on their way out.
Despite falling behind early, the Jayhawks did not lay down. Michael Suiter polished off his solid series with a solo home run in the fifth to get KU on the board and Kevin Kuntz and James Stanfield followed with RBIs during KU’s three-run fifth.
“From down four to down by one, that gave us a huge confidence boost and we took over the momentum,” Stanfield said.
Added Price: “I thought we were right back in it at that point. But any time you cut the deficit to one, your starter can’t go back out there and give ‘em the run back and we did that.”
Mizzou added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh to put the finishing touches on the game and the historic series.
“I’ve never seen a rivalry as intense as this one,” Price said.