Around the Bases
Missouri's Gibson holds
Cal Poly in check
By Chris Hadorn
Facing a fourth starter is typically an easier
matchup for an opposing team, but not when that pitcher happens
to be a likely future first-round pick.
On the last day of the University of San Diego
Tournament on Sunday afternoon, the Missouri Tigers (6-2) threw
their No. 4 guy, Kyle Gibson, to the hill and he earned his
second win of the season in a 6-3 victory over the Cal Poly
Mustangs (3-4) at San Diego State’s Tony Gwynn Stadium. Gibson
threw six innings, gave up two earned runs, surrendered eight
hits, walked two and struck out four. Missouri finished the USD
Tournament with a 3-1 record, highlighted by a deep pitching
staff that gave up 13 runs in four games.
“Anytime when you win on the road, three out of
four, it’s a pretty good thing,” said Missouri head coach Tim
Jamieson. “But, I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Gibson allowed the four Mustang batters he faced to reach base
in the bottom of the first. Shortstop Kyle Smith doubled to left
on a ground ball down the third base line and second baseman Pat
Pezet followed with a soft liner to left that advanced Smith to
third. Jordan Schafer, the All-Big West centerfielder, brought
Smith home with a hard groundball single to left as Cal Poly
took the lead 1-0. Cleanup batter Brent Morel loaded the bases
by pulling a groundball single to short. It was placed perfectly
in the hole where Missouri shortstop Lee Fischer had no play.
Cal Poly extended its lead to 2-0 when catcher Wes Dorrell drove
in Pezet on a sacrifice fly to left, Missouri’s first out of the
inning. That would be the last run Gibson would give up the rest
of the day. The 6-foot-6, 196 pound right-hander induced two
outs on the ground to get out of the jam.
“A lot of ground balls that seemed to get through weren’t hit
that hard, and Kyle is going to give up a lot of ground balls,”
Jamieson said. “He threw strikes, he didn’t beat himself and
beared down in tough situations. That first inning could have
turned into a five or six-run inning. That fact he kept it
small, he gave us a chance to comeback.”
Coming off an 11-strikeout performance in seven innings versus
Alabama on Feb. 23, Cal Poly starter Steven Fischback was
impressive right off the bat, throwing two scoreless
innings, striking out two and allowing no hits. He kept the
Mizzou batters off-balanced by attacking them with his
fastball-slider combination. Fischback’s luck changed in the top
of the third when Missouri took a 3-2 lead and never looked
back. Leading off the inning, Missouri’s Kyle Mach reached base
on a fielding error and Fischback was never quite the same as he
hit two batters in the inning and surrendered three RBI singles
to Austin Holt, Jacob Priday and Aaron Senne.
Holt, the Tigers junior second baseman, added another RBI single
in the fourth to extend the lead to 4-2. In the top of the
fifth, right fielder Jacob Priday crushed a 2-2 fastball over
the centerfield fence for a home run to make the score 5-2. It
was Priday’s second round-tripper of the season. Priday, the
two-time All-Big XII first team selection, was brushed back on
the previous pitch by a high, inside fastball from Fischback,
but the chin music proved to have no effect on his poise.
Fischback (1-1) left the game after 5.2 innings and was charged
with five runs, four earned, seven hits and a walk. He struck
Cal Poly had an opportunity for a big inning in the bottom of
the third when Schafer led off with a hard line-drive single to
right and Morel followed with a double to right. Priday, the
Tigers’ rightfielder, missed the cut-off man throwing the ball
in on Morel’s two-bagger. Schafer tried to take advantage of the
mistake but was tagged out on a throw from Tigers third baseman
Mach to catcher Trevor Coleman. Gibson got two more of his
patented weak groundouts to leave Morel stranded on third.
From the second inning on, Gibson surrendered four hits, one
walk, no runs and fanned four over his final five innings.
Throwing on a downward plane from a 6-foot-6 frame, hitters have
a difficult time picking up the ball. He generated weak contact
with a low-90s fastball that had heavy sinking action and also
frustrated the Mustangs with a late-breaking slider and a solid
“Luckily my two-seamer drops a lot, I am able to throw it and
use it for ground balls,” Gibson said. “When I am at my best, I
am able to throw everything right down the middle and let my
movement take over. In the later innings, I was able to do
“He [Gibson] has a lot of late life on all his pitches,”
Jamieson said. “It’s real late and sharp and it’s difficult to
square the bat up to the ball.”
The Tigers added their final run in the top of the seventh when
centerfielder Kurt Calbert scored from third on a passed ball.
After Gibson left, Tigers relievers Kelly Fick, Ryan Gargano and
Nick Tepesch combined to allow only two hits and no walks over
the final three innings. Cal Poly got an inconsequential run in
the bottom of the ninth, but they didn’t have any big-run
scoring opportunities down the stretch. It was a bitter end to
the tournament for the Mustangs, who were only able to muster
one win in four tries, a 3-2 victory over Fresno State on
Saturday. Two of Cal Poly’s other defeats were in one-run
contests versus San Diego and San Diego State.
Friday and Holt each had multiple hits and two RBI. Cal Poly’s
hitting stars were Morel, who went 3 for 5, and Schafer, who
batted 2 for 5 with a RBI.
Missouri returns home to frigid Columbia where there’s snow in
the forecast for Monday. They are scheduled to play their home
opener versus Western Illinois on Tuesday night.