COLUMBIA — Friday night was just another episode of The Kyle Gibson Show.
In the Tigers' 3-2 win over No. 3 Texas A&M (13-8), the junior struck out 16 Aggies batters, pitching a complete game for the second consecutive week against a top-three team. Last week, Gibson earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing his first complete game shutout against the Texas Longhorns.
"He went to another level in the ninth inning," coach Tim Jamieson said of Gibson's performance Friday. "He wasn't going to be denied."
The Missouri outfielders looked bored, standing still as Gibson mowed through the Aggies' lineup. They only fielded one fly ball, because Gibson either struck the Aggies out or forced them into hitting a ground ball.
"I gave a couple ground balls so maybe they got enough work in," Gibson said. "I want to make that a trademark for me."
Third baseman Kyle Mach fielded six of those ground balls for the Tigers (10-10), including a bunt attempt that dribbled up the third-base line before he grabbed it with his bare hand and threw it to first baseman Greg Folgia. Folgia slid into the the splits to catch the ball before the runner made it to the bag.
"That guy is (the) best I've had behind me at third base," Gibson said. "He fields everything and never makes a bad throw so you know if its in his glove its an out."
It was just Gibson's night. It started with his pre-game preparations in the bullpen and carried over to the ninth inning when he pumped his fist and jumped off the mound after striking out the last Texas A&M batter to earn the win.
"My work in the bullpen was the best I've seen me do," Gibson said. "I've just never really had that feeling in the bullpen."
Tied at two entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Tigers found themselves with runners on first and third with one out. Second baseman Andrew Thigpen was scheduled to hit but had struck out in his previous three plate appearances so Jamieson called on the struggling Steve Gray to pinch hit.
"He's the best option on the bench still," Jamieson said. "It was a real-no brainer."
Gray hit a soft ground ball to the second baseman that the Aggies couldn't convert to a double-play to save the run and end the inning because Gray beat the throw to the base.
"I was just lucky I didn't hit it any harder," Gray said. "I was just thinking 'I got to run as hard as I can.'"