Owls end three-game slide behind Gibson's arm

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
The Owls' defense has been solid so far, as junior shortstop Ryan Guthrie demonstrated by snagging a flare behind second base to end Higginsville's first-inning threat.

Even though it has had trouble scoring runs, Marshall has continued playing determined baseball.

The Owls' grit paid off Tuesday as they came back from deficits three times and got a strong mound performance from sophomore Chad Gibson to end a three-game skid with a 5-4 non-conference home victory over previously-unbeaten Higginsville.

"I'm real proud of their effort," declared MHS head coach Greg Miles. "Everybody played well."

That was especially true of Gibson in his first start of the season. He scattered five hits, gave up just two earned runs while striking out 11. More critically, he hung tough when in jams and used his head. After sophomore Graham Padley drilled his first pitch into the gap for a double, scoring on junior Chase Gilmore's single, Gibson made the needed changes.

"The thing I admired is that he adjusted," Miles said. "He started out with fastballs and they jumped on him. Then he went to first-pitch curves and stayed ahead in the count."

Of Gibson's 106 pitches, 72 were for strikes. He threw 36 curves, 20 on target. That type of efficiency can go a long way.

Marshall got the run back during its half of the first when sophomore Joe Lozano reached second base on an error and came in on senior Sean McCracken's single.

Senior Dane Plymell singled, stole second and scored on Gilmore's single in the third, but the Owls again wasted no time catching up -- and taking the lead on a walk to McCracken, senior Jonathan Durham's single and a two-run double from junior Alex Pointer.

"For a team that has been struggling to put hits together, that was a big lift emotionally," Miles remarked.

Two Huskers reached base on errors in the fifth, both coming in on a Gilmore single, but Marshall picked up two runs during its next turn. Durham tripled with one out, Pointer plated him with a single, swiped two bags and came in with a go-ahead run on a booted grounder.

That was all Gibson needed, retiring the final six batters he faced to nail down the win.

Gilmore's three hits and four RBIs led Higginsville (4-1). Pointer had two hits and knocked in three runs for the Owls (2-3), who have a week off before resuming NCMC play Tuesday at Helias.

"We've got two of the three parts of the puzzle put together," Miles noted about Marshall's pitching and defense. "It's just a matter of getting hits and putting pressure on the other team."

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