It took an outstanding performance by a veteran pitcher, and a huge hit by a freshman making his first start to lead the Missouri Tigers over the Ball St. Cardinals 4-1 on Friday night. Junior Kyle Gibson pitched eight strong innings, but it was freshman designated hitter Ryan Gebhart who got the big hit.
With his team down 1-0, Gebhart stepped up with the bases loaded. After watching two strikes go by, the DH smoked a line shot into right field for a double, driving in two runs, and put his team up for good.
“His hit was a big hit, a huge hit,” coach Tim Jamieson said. “Bases loaded, he came through and did a great job, and got the RBI. Right now he’s got a leg up (in the DH rotation) because he had a good game. He’ll be out there again tomorrow. He had a great game tonight.”
After taking all of three at bats in four games, there would seem to be a lot of pressure on the freshman. But Gebhart was not fazed.
“I was just excited to be in the game and be a contributor for this team,” Gebhart said. “When I hit that double, I was pumped up, my adrenaline was going and I was having fun. The guys on the team are really encouraging to me, being younger, and they’ve really accepted me. I felt no pressure.”
Gibson on the other hand, is becoming accustomed to pressure. As the team’s ace, the junior notched his second victory on the season, while setting a career high with 13 strikeouts. After getting into some trouble in the third inning, Gibson settled down and cruised through the rest of his start.
“We’ve got five of six juniors and seniors that are probably going to get drafted, and have big roles,” Gibson said. “That’s one thing that’s great about the team is the leaders know they’re the leaders, and they take advantage of that. All my job is to go out and give us a chance to win every night that I throw.”
Missouri responded quickly after the Cardinals took the lead in the third inning. In the bottom of the fourth, junior shortstop Michael Liberto followed Gebhart’s double with a double of his own, driving in the third run of the inning. The Tigers tacked on an insurance run in the eighth before senior Scooter Hicks nailed down the 4-1 victory.