OXFORD, Miss. — Missouri pitcher Kyle Gibson's arm was hurting again.
For the past couple weeks, Gibson has experienced forearm tightness in his pitching arm and it happened again on Saturday. His fastball, that usually reaches 93 mph, only reached 87. Despite the tightness, Gibson dominated another opponent.
Missouri (35-26) vs. Western Kentucky (40-19)
WHEN: 1 p.m.
WHERE: Oxford, Miss.
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM
Gibson helped Missouri avoid elimination leading it to a 9-0 win at the NCAA Oxford regional. The Tigers will face Western Kentucky at 1 p.m. Sunday in another elimination game. The Hilltoppers beat Missouri 11-5 on Friday.
Gibson pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out eight Hawks while only allowing six hits. With the eight strikeouts, Gibson tied current Arizona Diamondback pitcher Max Scherzer for the most strikeouts in a single Missouri season with 131.
“Just for me its not all about the records but it’s pretty cool,” Gibson said. “To be in the ranks of him and (Aaron) Crow, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
Gibson also moved into a tie for second place in all time wins for a Missouri (35-26) pitcher despite only pitching three seasons for the Tigers. He’s also in sole possession of second place in career strikeouts with 304.
Gibson nursed his forearm by icing it and taking an extended rest between starts. Trainer Matt Long supervised Gibson's pregame warmup on Saturday and has helped Gibson work through the problem. Also, Gibson has had 12 days and 10 days to rest in between his last two starts which helped the problem.
“It’s not hurt. My forearm has tightened up a little bit just from the long season,” Gibson said. “It’s something that I have had the trainers work on and try to make it just as good as I can. You have to battle through tightness once in a while.”
Thankfully for Gibson and the Tigers, he had control of his slider, curve ball and fastball on Saturday which he used to dominate yet another team instead of blowing his fastball by pitchers.
“He pitched a heck of a ballgame,” Monmouth outfielder Brett Holland said. “He was throwing three pitches for strikes, especially to right-handed hitters his slider was tough.”
The same thing couldn’t be said for Monmouth (32-25) starting pitcher Ryan Buch who struggled with his command which made him throw a lot of fastballs over the plate. Missouri took notice early and started sitting on the fastball.
“He was just pumping (fastballs) in there right away so we got aggressive,” outfielder Aaron Senne said.
The first five Missouri batters in the fifth inning reached base and Missouri scored three runs to take a commanding 5-0 lead that would be padded in the seventh and eighth with home runs by Senne and first baseman Steve Gray.
For Senne, it was his second home run in as many games in Oxford.
It was the first time in four games that the Missouri offense had more than five hits in a game. The Tigers scored their first run of the game in the second inning when designated hitter Ryan Ampleman hit a sky-high pop up that was dropped by the center fielder which allowed Gray to score from first base.
“That helped our offense get going a little bit,” Gray said. “It’s always big to get out to a lead like that, especially with Gibson on the mound, and let the offense do the work.”
With Gibson pitching eight strong innings, the bullpen rested today after using eight pitchers on Friday Senior Ryan Gargano pitched a perfect ninth inning.
That leaves everyone on pitching staff except Gibson available for Sunday’s possible doubleheader. If Missouri wins the first game at 1 p.m., it would have to play another elimination game 50 minutes following the win against Ole Miss, which must lose in Sunday's second game and again on Monday to lose the regional.
Jamieson hasn’t decided who he will start in the first game on Sunday.
“I will talk to pitching coach (Tony) Vitello about it,” Jamieson said. “I guess it will be (Ian) Berger in the first game. If we don’t use Berger in the first game, we will probably use Scooter (Hicks) or Johnny Wholestaff (Missouri's technique of using a new pitcher every inning) or some combination of that.”