COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Missouri’s Ryan Allen balked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete No. 6 Texas A&M’s wild come-from-behind, 9-8 victory over the fourth-ranked Tigers Friday night before 4,668 fans at Olsen Field.
The Aggies trailed 8-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but chipped away at the lead in each of the final four frames. Down 8-7 to start the last of the ninth, A&M got a base hit and a walk before Brian Ruggiano’s double to the left center field gap tied the game and put the winning run at third base with no outs.
Mizzou intentionally walked Ben Feltner to load the bases. As Brodie Greene awaited the first pitch from Allen, home plate umpire Jim Garman signaled a balk—bringing pinch-runner Kirkland Rivers home with the game-winner.
Texas A&M (35-7, 16-3 Big 12) set a new school record and tied a Big 12 record with its 13th straight conference victory. The Tigers fell to 29-12 and 9-7.
“I’m very proud of this team,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “There literally is no quit in this group. They are very tough. I can’t say enough about them. They keep coming and make you get all 27 outs. Tonight’s a perfect example, and last Sunday (13-12 win over Baylor) was as well.”
The Aggies were able to scratch single runs off Mizzou ace Aaron Crow in the second and sixth innings, but began the bulk of the comeback in the seventh. Crow walked Blake Stouffer and Dane Carter on a total of nine pitches to begin the frame before allowing a ground-rule RBI double to center to Jose Duran, his final batter of the evening.
Rick Zagone entered in relief and, after a walk, A&M tacked on another run on a double play ball to make the score 8-4. The Tigers then went to lefty Scooter Hicks out of the pen, who quickly built an 0-2 count on Brian Ruggiano. The Aggie catcher fouled off two straight pitches before blasting the next offering off the green monster in center field for his fifth home run of the season, one that pulled A&M within two at 8-6.
“I thought the turning point of the game was the bottom of the sixth inning,” Childress said. “We only scored one run but we took 30 pitches from him, and that’s what got him out of the game and allowed us to come back against some of their relievers and get some big hits.”
Mizzou closer Nick Tepesch tossed the eighth inning, allowing Greene—who had doubled leading off the frame and moved to third on a groundout—to score on a two-out wild pitch.
A&M junior Kyle Thebeau, who had tossed a perfect eighth inning in relief, sat the side down in order again in the Missouri ninth to set the stage for the game-ending heroics.
The Aggie defense had some early heroics of its own. In the second inning, Feltner—A&M’s left fielder—robbed Tiger second baseman Greg Folgia of a grand slam by leaping over the left field wall to snag the third out of the inning.
“That was an incredible play,” Childress said. “That was a huge play at the time, and it becomes even bigger with how things turned out.”
Ruggiano led the offensive attack with three hits and three RBI on the night. Duran (2-for-5, RBI) and Brown (2-for-3, RBI) were the only other Aggies with multiple hits.
Ryan Lollis (3-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI) and Aaron Senne (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) led Missouri offensively.
Thebeau (4-2) earned the win with a perfect two innings of work that included a pair of strikeouts.
Tepesch (1-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing three earned runs and two hits over one-plus innings of relief.
Both starters did not factor in the decision—A&M’s Brooks Raley allowed nine hits, four runs and threw walks over four innings, while Crow gave up six hits, five runs and five walks over six-plus.
The series continues on Saturday with first pitch set for 2 p.m. at Olsen Field. A&M freshman Barret Loux (3-1, 4.50 ERA) will face Missouri sophomore Kyle Gibson (6-0, 3.09). The game will air locally on WTAW-AM 1620, and tickets are available at the gate or online at aggieathletics.com.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Texas A&M set a new school record with its 13th consecutive conference victory…A&M also matched the Big 12 record for league wins in a row, set by Nebraska in 2000…the Aggies have not lost a Big 12 game since March 23 at Oklahoma State.
• The win was A&M’s 19th come-from-behind victory of the year.
• Blake Stouffer extended his hit streak to a career-high 18 games.
• Jose Duran extended his hit streak to a season (and career) best 12 games…Duran has hit safely in 18 of A&M’s 19 Big 12 games, and has posted multi-hit games in 14 of the 19 league games.
• Dane Carter has now reached safely (hit or walk) in 41 of A&M’s 42 games in 2008.
• Darby Brown has hit safely in 16 of A&M’s 19 Big 12 games.
• Multi-hit games on the night: Darby Brown (16th season, 28th career)…Jose Duran (23rd season/career)…Brian Ruggiano (17th season, 22nd career).
• Brian Ruggiano tied a career high with three hits on the night.
• Texas A&M now leads the all-time series with Mizzou, 33-24-1, but trails 18-15 since the exception of the Big 12 in 1997.
• Game-time temperature was 81 degrees with overcast skies and winds blowing out to left center at five miles per hour.