COLUMBIA — Most of the time, Missouri third baseman Kyle Mach blends into the game.
When he fields a ball, he rarely throws it away. It is expected that it’s an out when he gets the ball in his glove.
But Saturday, Mach stood out in the Tigers 6-2 win over No. 3 Texas A&M when he hit a two RBI double into the gap in the first inning to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead which they didn’t surrender.
“I was up there looking for a good fastball to hit,” Mach said. “(With the count) 2-0, I took a hack and missed. He came back with the same pitch and I got the barrel on the bat.”
Like Coach Tim Jamieson hinted at on Wednesday night, the Tigers (11-10) used nine different pitchers to beat the Aggies (13-9). Each pitcher pitched an inning. Jamieson said he doesn't feel like he has a third starting pitcher who can be reliable, so he decided on the unusual option because he has a lot of talented relief pitchers. The Tigers team ERA in their five games using the pitcher-per-inning technique is an impressive 1.43.
“It has worked every game,” Jamieson said. “There were a couple of nervous moments, but when you score runs in the bottom of the first it takes off a lot of pressure, whether it be one guy or nine guys out there.”
Few people notice Mach at third base because he makes playing the position look easy with his fast glove and natural instincts to get to the ball. Pitcher Kyle Gibson calls him the best third baseman he has ever had behind him.
During practice on Thursday, Aaron Senne went up against pitching coach Tony Vitello in a one-on-one duel. Senne hit a chopper at the empty third base spot. Vitello jumped off the mound in celebration screaming, “I’ve got Kyle Mach over there!” Vitello knew that if he had a defense behind him that he would have had an out and declared himself the winner.
“He makes every play, whether it be hard hit or soft hit,” Jamieson said. “He’s been a very solid third baseman for his entire career.”
Sometimes people notice Kyle Mach. Like on Friday night, when in an attempt to get a hit, a Texas A&M batter laid an unexpected bunt down the third base line. Mach grabbed it bare-handed and threw out the runner at first drawing a standing ovation from the crowd.
“He’s the best defensive third baseman I’ve ever been around,” Jamieson said.
Mach usually blends in at the plate too. The sound of the ball coming off his bat has never made the crowd gasp. He's only hit five home runs in 163 games for Missouri and is hitting .225 at the plate this season. He always starts the season slow before he gets into a groove during conference play. Mach thinks that he's about to turn it around at the plate.
"All I needed was to get the barrel onto the ball a couple times," Mach said. "I'm starting to see the ball well."
For the last out on Saturday, Texas A&M's Scott Arthur hit a slow rolling ball towards the pitchers mound. Mach charged and threw out Arthur at first base.
Mach then blended into the victory high-five line.