Gebhart off to fast start

The sophomore came back from an injury Sunday.
Missouri junior catcher Brett Nicholas leaps in the air to catch a fly ball during the game against Kansas on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Nicholas made two of the Tigers' three hits during the night.

Missouri sophomore Ryan Gebhart got a hit for the second straight game Wednesday during a 1-0 loss to rival Kansas at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Gebhart, who had been out with an injury, returned to the lineup against Oklahoma State University on Sunday and played the field for the first time Wednesday.

Gebhart batted eighth and was the designated hitter in his first game back Sunday. Showing no signs of rust, Gebhart went 2-for-4 and also reached base on a walk.

The strong performance on Sunday earned Gebhart a spot in the starting lineup Wednesday, this time in left field for the first time this season.

"In the back of my mind I was ready to start, but I wasn't expecting to get out to play left field," Gebhart said.

On the first play of the game, Gebhart proved playing the field would not be a problem by making a diving catch to rob Jayhawk junior shortstop Brandon Macias of a hit.

"He might have saved a big inning right there, and for a guy that hasn't been out there very much, it was a pretty good play," coach Tim Jamieson said. "He looks really comfortable out there, and that's a good sign."

Gebhart said the catch calmed him down.

"To get a line drive like that on the first pitch, it kind of makes you feel like a little kid again, diving for fly balls," Gebhart said. "It kind of relaxed me a little bit, got me ready for the next ball."

The next ball also went to Gebhart, and was his second of five putouts in the game. At the plate, Gebhart went 1-for-3, and recorded a single in the third inning. His base hit was the first of just three Tiger hits in the game.

"I feel very comfortable (at the plate)," Gebhart said. "I'm seeing the ball very well, and the only thing I would like to do with my swing is stay through it a little better."

Jamieson, who has used 35 different lineups in 36 games this season, agreed.

"I think he's relaxed," Jamieson said. "He's not pressing, and he's comfortable at the plate."

Junior catcher Brett Nicholas had both of the other hits for Missouri on Wednesday. Nicholas hit a double in the fourth inning and a single in the seventh.

"The issue right now is that we only have a couple guys in the lineup that are comfortable," Jamieson said. "Somebody has to step up. Hopefully he can be a spark, but we need more than Ryan. The guys that are playing everyday need to step up."

The Missouri offense will look to improve when the Tigers host No. 16 Kansas State in a three-game series this weekend. The Wildcats stand second in the Big 12, and Missouri is last.

"We have plenty of season left, plenty of Big 12 season left, and we just need to start making the adjustments now and go from there," Nicholas said.

The Tigers hope Gebhart can be one of the players who will spark a late-season turn-around.

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