COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 6 Texas A&M baseball team extended its winning streak to seven games Friday night as the Aggies defeated Missouri 8-6 in the opener of a three-game series on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
"I'm proud of our team tonight; they played with a lot of emotion," Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "We knew we were going to have our hands full with Missouri. They compete and play with a lot of emotion as well. It ought to be a great rest of the series."
The Aggies (21-5, 3-1 Big 12) jumped out to an early lead during their first turn at bat as senior first baseman Jacob House put them on the scoreboard. The Mansfield, Texas, native came to the plate with two outs and a runner on during the bottom of the first and connected on a 0-2 pitch from MU starter Rob Zastryzny, driving the offering over the wall in right for his team-leading fourth home run of the year.
House has a force at the plate of late, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with eight RBI during the team's last three games.
Texas A&M took advantage of shaky Missouri defense and extended its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second, scoring one unearned run as the Tigers made three errors during the frame.
During the top of the third, the Tigers (15-10, 2-2 Big 12) struck back by collecting five straight singles to begin the frame leading to three runs and a tie ball game
After sophomore catcher Troy Stein put the Aggies up with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, Mizzou took its first lead of the night with two runs against Texas A&M Michael Wacha in the top of the fourth. Despite surrendering 12 hits and four runs during his outing, Wacha battled on the mound and pitched into the seventh inning before leaving with the lead.
"I thought he (Wacha) pitched his guts out tonight," Childress said. "He found a way to keep us in the game. He fought, scratched, and clawed. All of a sudden you look up and he's gotten us to the seventh inning. I thought he did a great job and I thought our bullpen did a great job ... Michael's probably disappointed, but I'm very proud of him. I thought he pitched his heart out. When you have great stuff like Michael, like we saw last week against Pepperdine, it can really be a grind on you. I thought he did a great job of getting us to the seventh inning"
Clutch two-out at bats by the top of the A&M order spearheaded the Aggies' sixth-inning rally as they pushed across two runs to retake the lead at 6-5. Junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds was able to reach by being hit by a pitch on a 0-2 count and sophomore center fielder Krey Bratsen drew a bases-loaded walk, setting the table for junior right fielder Tyler Naquin.
The All-American came through by sharply doubling into the left fielder corner to drive in both runners and put the Aggies up 6-5.
"The thing that continues to impress me is our lineup one through nine," Childress added. "They grind, they fight, they scratch, and they claw. Out of the eight runs we scored tonight, six were with two outs, none bigger than the two in the sixth inning. Mikey was down 0-2 but he battles back and ends up getting hit by the pitch. Krey fights, scratches and claws to get the walk. We were able to get our guy (Naquin) up to the plate and drive in some runs for us."
Mizzou countered with a run in the top of the eighth to tie the game, but A&M was able to score two runs in the bottom or the frame on a balk and a bases-loaded walk.
The series continues on Saturday with an excellent pitching match-up as Texas A&M sends senior RHP Ross Stripling (4-0, 2.56 ERA) to the mound to face Tiger lefty Blake Holovavh (4-0, 1.97 ERA). First pitch is slated for 2:05 p.m.