COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Kyle Colligan’s walk-off home run to open the 10th inning lifted No. 6 Texas A&M to a 3-2 win over and a series sweep of fourth-ranked Missouri Sunday afternoon before 3,744 fans at Olsen Field.
Colligan (Houston, Texas) smashed a first-pitch fastball from Tiger pitcher Rick Zagone over the fence in left center, just underneath the scoreboard, for the junior’s first walk-off home run of his career.
The Aggies (37-7, 18-3 Big 12) won their 15th straight league game and have now swept the last five Big 12 series. Mizzou, meanwhile, fell to 29-14 and 9-9.
“That was a lot of fun,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “It was a well pitched game—Rick Zagone pitched his heart out, and I thought Clayton Ehlert was equally as good. For us to keep it close and not fall apart when they tied it up says a lot about our group.”
Runs were at a premium in what turned out to be a great pitcher’s duel between Zagone—who went the distance for the Tigers—and A&M starter Clayton Ehlert.
Colligan led off the game for the Aggies with a first-pitch single to center, and quickly moved to second base on a Blake Stouffer sacrifice bunt. On the first pitch to the next batter—Dane Carter—Colligan swiped third base. Carter then executed a perfect suicide squeeze on the next offering from Zagone, scoring Colligan to give A&M an early 1-0 lead.
Brodie Greene drew a two-out walk in the second inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Kevin Gonzalez, poked a 3-2 pitch up the middle to drive in his sixth run of the weekend and bump the advantage to 2-0.
Mizzou managed only four baserunners off Ehlert in the first six innings, with only one reaching scoring position.
In the seventh, Ehlert was lifted after giving up a leadoff single to Aaron Senne. Following a strikeout by reliever Kyle Thebeau, a single by Trevor Coleman put runners at the corners. The next batter, Andrew Thigpen, delivered an RBI single to center to cut the Aggie lead in half. It marked the first run for the Tigers since the sixth inning of Friday night’s game, a string of 18 1/3 scoreless innings by the A&M pitching staff.
Thebeau protected the lead, however, retiring the next two batters on a strikeout and a foulout.
With the score the same entering the ninth, Missouri tied the game off Aggie closer Travis Starling. Pinch hitter Austin Holt led off the frame with a single up the middle, and moved into scoring position on a ground ball to second base. Coleman delivered again, lacing a 2-1 pitch for a double down the left field line and tying the game at two. Starling retired the next two batters on back-to-back groundouts, however, keeping the game tied.
Both teams loaded the bases in their next at-bats but were unable to push across the go-ahead run, setting the stage for Colligan’s walk-off heroics.
Ehlert allowed just three hits over six-plus innings, giving up one run and fanning five. For the third straight outing, the sophomore did not walk a batter.
“Clayton did exactly what we needed him to do,” Childress said. “He was great.”
Starling picked up the win in relief, improving to 7-0 on the year. He allowed three hits and one run over three innings of action, walking one while fanning four.
Zagone (1-3) suffered the loss, throwing 143 pitches over his nine-plus innings. He allowed just six hits, all three runs and four walks while striking out 10.
Colligan was the only Aggie with multiple hits on the afternoon, while Senne and Coleman combined for six of the Tigers’ eight knocks.
“This was a big weekend for us,” Childress said. “Whenever you can sweep anyone in this league it’s huge. We need to take care of things in the Big 12 one game at a time. That being said, this week coming up is a big RPI week for us. TCU and Dallas Baptist are great teams and, for me, it’s just like playing another conference weekend.”
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies hit the road to face former Southwest Conference foe TCU in Fort Worth. First pitch at Lupton Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m., with sophomore Scott Migl (2-2, 5.03 ERA) taking the hill for A&M.