Sooners sneak by Tigers baseball team in series opener

Kyle Gibson tossed a gem, but defensive miscues by Missouri players help give No. 10 Oklahoma a 2-1 win Friday night at Taylor Stadium.
Friday, April 3, 2009 | 9:27 p.m. CDT; updated 10:20 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — Too often pitchers get blamed for events that aren't their fault.

Count Missouri ace Kyle Gibson in that category after Friday night in Missouri's 2-1 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma at Taylor Stadium. Gibson struck out 15 Sooners batters, pitching a complete game and giving up six hits in a performance everyone expects of him when he takes the mound.

On the box score, it will show Gibson took the loss after giving up two earned runs in the fifth inning after allowing a double steal and single.

In reality, his defense let him down. After the game, the body language of his teammates said it all. Players hung their heads, and Coach Tim Jamieson looked at the box score and said, "There's not much to look at." Everyone was quietly talking to friends and family outside the locker room.

"We made defensive mistakes which led to both of their runs," Jamieson said.

In the fifth inning, after giving up a double and single to give the Sooners (24-6) runners on first and third, Gibson faked a pick-off move towards third. The move got Casey Johnson off the bag at first, resulting in a run down. As the play unfolded,  J.T. Wise, the Sooners' runner at third, stole home.

Missouri (14-15) tried to throw him out at the plate but Wise was safe to give the Sooners a 1-0 lead. And worse, the Tigers failed to get an out on a situation where they should have had one.

"We messed that play up from the beginning," Jamieson said. "At that point, you have to take the out (at second base)."

The next batter third baseman Garrett Buechele received sign calling for a hit-and-run that worked just as it was suppose to.

Johnson broke from second base to steal third,  and as Missouri third baseman Kyle Mach went to cover third base the ball was hit right to him but went right under his glove. The mishap allowed the eventual game-winning run to score.

"In my mind, that was an error," Jamieson said.

In typical Kyle Gibson fashion, he didn't blame anyone for the loss. But the frustration in his voice was clear when talking about the two plays that led to the Sooners' runs. 

It was the third start this week for Gibson. He's thrown 198 pitches in five days.

Despite the heavy workload, he said he felt no after effects.

"My arm feels great," Gibson said. "Once I get out there throwing I get in a groove."

For all the miscues that put the Tigers in a hole, center fielder Ryan Lollis produced a highlight-reel play.

In the top of the ninth with a runner on second, Oklahoma first baseman Aaron Baker smashed a  Gibson pitch high into the Columbia sky.

Lollis ran to the warning track and leapt into the air, while extending arm over the outfield wall, to snag the ball as it went over the fence. The play would rob Baker of a home run and kept two runs off the scoreboard.

Lollis then threw the ball to second base to get the double-play and was mobbed at third by teammates. 

"I was on cloud 10," Lollis said.

The Missouri offense continued to struggle, though. On Friday, its lineup could only churn out four hits and drew no walks.  As of Friday, there are no starters in the Missouri lineup after hitting over .300.

Its performance so far has been from Baseball America's prediction before the season started that this would be the best offense Jamieson has had in his 15 years as Missouri coach.

"I can't say I'm surprised anymore in the 29th game," Jamieson said. "We got off to a slow start and we haven't handled failure well."





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