OKLAHOMA CITY - A late Aggie rally fell short Thursday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark as the sixth-ranked Texas A&M baseball team saw its eight-game winning streak snapped during a 5-3 loss to Missouri on day two of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
The setback also ended an 11-game winning streak for the Aggies at the Big 12 Tournament, leaving them one victory shy of the all-time record of 12, which was set by Nebraska from 2000-2002.
"I thought it was a well-played game for about seven and a half innings," Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "You have to give Missouri credit, they did a great job and had timely hits. Holovach got them off to a good start. I thought we hit a lot of good balls against him, but when they went to the bullpen, we didn't have an answer for Emens and his change-up."
The Aggies (42-15) will now face Kansas (23-33), which eliminated Texas earlier in the day on Thursday with a 4-2 win, at 7 p.m. on Friday during an elimination game for both teams. Texas A&M will send senior Ross Stripling (10-2, 2.70 ERA) to the mound against the Jayhawks where he will be opposed by KU right-hander Thomas Taylor (4-7, 4.96 ERA).
"Now, we're fighting an uphill battle and we'll find out how tough we are in the next few days," Childress added. "We need to embrace this opportunity. We'll find out how deep our pitching is. We're going to take that one at a time until we get to Sunday. We've got a tough team here."
Freshman designated hitter Mitchell Nau drove in a game-high three on the night, but the Aggie hitters could not complete the come-from-behind attempt against MU starter Blake Holovach (7-4) and reliever Jeff Emens, who pitched the final 3.2 innings to record his third save of the year.
"We just have to completely erase [the loss]," Nau said. "Tonight, we may be a little mad about it, but tomorrow morning is a new day. We have to go win some ball games. Don't count us out yet. It's going to be a fun show."
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead in the contest, cashing in on a two-out wild pitch from Texas A&M starter Michael Wacha (8-1) during the bottom of the second inning.
For Wacha, the loss was his first on the mound since June 21, 2011, when he took the unfavorable decision against Cal during play at the College World Series. The Texarkana, Texas, native was charged with four runs (three earned) Thursday during seven innings of work.
Missouri (30-26) quickly retook the advantage during the home half of the frame as Tiger center fielder Blake Brown led off the inning with a towering home run that cleared the video ribbon board in left field.
The Tigers plated two more runs off Wacha during the bottom of the fifth as left fielder Scott Sommerfeld drove in one with a single to right center and MU leadoff man Eric Garcia brought home a second tally with a knock into center field.
Texas A&M hit the comeback trail in the sixth as Tyler Naquin and Matt Juengel kick started the frame with back-to-back singles. A one-out walk issued to Stein loaded the bases for Nau, who again came through as he singled up the middle to cut the deficit down to 4-3.
Nau's hit left the tying run in scoring position at second with only one out in the frame and prompted Missouri to lift Holovach in favor of Emens. Tiger right-hander quelled the rally by recording back-to-back strikeouts to strand a pair of runners and end the inning.
Missouri added an insurance run during the bottom of the eighth as A&M reliever Kyle Martin allowed the first three men of the inning to reach base before a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dane Opel gave the game its final score at 5-3.Aggie senior reliever Estevan Uriegas retired the final two batters of the eighth inning during his school-record 37th appearance of the season. The senior from Round Rock, Texas, entered the game tied with former A&M pitcher Nick Fleece, who held the record with 36 appearances during the 2011 campaign.