COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a three-run ninth inning and topped the Missouri Tigers, 6-5, Saturday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Olsen Magic was conjured up with the assistance of four Missouri errors. With one out, Mitchell Nau reached on a throwing error by third baseman Shane Segovia. Another error followed when second baseman Kendall Keeton could not corral a grounder by Daniel Mengden. With JB Moss and Brandon Wood pinch-running for Nau and Mengden respectively, Jonathan Moroney bounced into a fielder’s choice with Moss being forced out at third. Segovia tried to complete the game-ending double play, but his throw to first sailed high allowing Wood to move to third.
With runners at the corners, Jace Statum drove a full-count pitch up the middle to plate Wood. The ball scooted under centerfielder Logan Pearson’s glove, allowing Moroney to score the tying run and putting Statum on third.
With the nation’s longest active streak of reaching base (44-games) and a 14-game hit streak on the line, Mikey Reynolds laced a single through the right side of the infield, plating Statum for the endgame.
Texas A&M (25-22, 9-13 SEC) drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. Reynolds started the inning with a grounder to short, but Dillon Everett’s throw to first base sailed high and Reynolds reached on the air. Blake Allemand followed with an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in a humpback line drive to centerfield for a single, putting runners on first and second. Cole Lankford punched a single through the right side of the infield, plating Reynolds for the first run and putting runners at the corners. Allemand came home when Troy Stein bounced into a 6-3 double play, to give the Aggies a two-run lead and Hunter Melton capped off the rally by launching a 1-0 pitch over the 375 sign in right centerfield for a solo home run and the 3-0 advantage.
Reynolds made a key defensive play in the top of the third inning. With Keeton on second base and two outs, Dillon Everett hit a ball up the middle. Reynolds made a diving stop to prevent the ball from going into the infield, but Keeton kept his motor running and headed from home. Reynolds made a perfect throw to Nau who applied the tag for the final out of the inning and keeping the Aggies’ lead at 3-0.
Texas A&M was robbed of a run in the home half of the third when Missouri rightfielder Dane Opel leaped over the short fence in front of the visitor’s bullpen to take potential solo home run from Stein.
Missouri (15-27, 7-16 SEC) tied the game in the sixth inning. With one out, Dylan Kelly singled up the middle, Case Munson singled to leftfield and Josh Lester hit a 1-0 offering into the visitor’s bullpen for a three-run dinger.
The Tigers claimed a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning. Opel hit a leadoff single up the middle and Keaton Steele followed with an infield single. Kelly put a sacrifice bunt down to put runners in scoring position and Munson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After reliever AJ Minter struck out Lester for the second out of the inning, Andrew Vinson came in from the bullpen to face Segovia. Segovia threaded a single through the left side of the infield to plate two runs.
In his second career start, Parker Ray allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four over 5.1 innings. Vinson (1-1) picked up the win in relief, scattering one hit and one walk while striking out three over 2.1 shutout innings.
None of the runs the Tigers yielded were earned. Steele (4-3) was saddled with the loss, allowing three unearned runs on two hits while striking out two over 2.0 innings. Starter Brett Graves allowed three unearned runs on seven hits while striking out four over 6.2 innings.
Statum was the lone Aggie with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.
Steele, Munson and Segovia each registered two hits for Missouri.
The Aggies and Tigers wrap up the series on Sunday with a 1:05 pm first pitch.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Rob Childress
On the team’s performance: “Our guys showed a lot of courage today like they have all year long. They continue to show up every day and give tremendous effort for their teammates. Today was a reward for them for working so hard for each other.”
On the offensive performance: “When we scored three runs in the first inning we felt like it was going to be our day and then we don’t get anything else going until the ninth. We hit a lot of balls hard, not just Mikey. Give Missouri credit, they made all the plays they needed to make. We had some great at-bats. We just hit a lot of balls right at guys. We kept them within striking distance of having a shot to win it in the ninth.”
Texas A&M Outfielder Jace Statum
On how the team won: “You’ve got to give credit to all the guys ahead of me that were able to get on base. Those guys busted their butts to get us to the next at-bat. That’s what creates a big inning.”
On building momentum: “This is a huge momentum builder. We haven’t been playing too well, but this is where we start from and we can build from here.”
Texas A&M Pitcher Parker Ray
On the team performance: “It was definitely a team win. I’m proud of the guys for battling back when we were down by two in the ninth inning. It was a complete game with the way the defense played.”
Texas A&M Shortstop Mikey Reynolds
On the defensive play to prevent a run in the third inning: “It turned out to be a key play. I didn’t think I had a chance at the guy running to first but I remember there was a runner on base and thought I could throw him out if I was able to get to the ball. That was very exciting. It pumped me up.”
On the last at-bat: “I’ve never walked off like that. I was really looking forward to getting a hit. I really wanted that one. I knew I had to put the ball in play to give us an opportunity to win the game. It was a slider on the outside corner. Their pitcher was mowing us down those last three innings. He hung the slider and I was able to poke it through for the hit.”