LINCOLN, Neb.—Dane Carter broke a tie game with a three-run double in the top of the 16th and Travis Starling allowed four hits and no runs over the final eight innings as No. 5 Texas A&M outlasted 5th-ranked Nebraska, 6-3, Friday night in 16 innings before a season-high 8,708 fans at Hawks Field.
The Aggies loaded the bases in the inning on three consecutive one-out infield singles by Brodie Greene, Ben Feltner and Kyle Colligan. One out later, Carter drove a 2-2 offering from Dan Jennings into the right center field gap to clear the bases.
Starling, who doubled his previous longest career outing, allowed only a one-out single in the bottom of the 16th to nail down A&M’s 16th straight conference victory. The final out was recorded at midnight local time.
The game was the longest Big 12 contest in school history by both innings (16) and time (five hours, 20 minutes) and was the longest played by A&M (42-8, 19-3 Big 12) since 1989. Nebraska fell to 36-9-1 and 15-6-1.
“It was absolutely incredible,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I’ve been around a lot of teams, and this is as tough a team I’ve been around in 19 years of coaching. We didn’t have many opportunities tonight, and we were just able to find a way.”
Nebraska sent the game into extra innings with a run in the ninth. Jake Mort was hit by a 1-2 offering from Kyle Thebeau, who then walked Jake Opitz to put the tying run in scoring position.
Starling entered in relief, and got the first out on a sacrifice bunt by Mitch Abeita. Craig Corriston then tied the game with an RBI groundout to shortstop. Starling got the next batter, D.J. Belfonte, to ground out to second and force extra innings.
After walking the first batter of the 10th, the Aggie sophomore retired 10 in a row before allowing a one-out single by Ben Kline in the 13th. Kline swiped second and moved to third on a groundout, but Starling retired Mort on a ground ball to second to end the threat.
Husker reliever Zach Herr was as good, retiring all 12 batters he faced from the 10th through the 13th.
The Aggies got pinch runner Ben Feltner to third with two outs in the 14th on a stolen base and throwing error, but Jennings coaxed a fly ball out to center off the bat of Stouffer—the first man he faced on the night—to push the game to the 15th.
Nebraska used a one-out error followed by a base hit in the 15th to threaten to win the game. Starling got Kline to foul out to catcher Brian Ruggiano for the second out. The next batter, Bryce Nimmo, laced a single through the left side to load the bases, but Mort’s ensuing ground ball to shortstop got Texas A&M out of the jam and move the contest into the 16th inning.
The scoring began way back in the second frame, when Luke Anders drew a one-out walk. He moved to scoring position when Darby Brown was hit by the second pitch of his at-bat. Brian Ruggiano drove in the game’s first run, chopping a 2-2 pitch up the middle to plate Anders.
The next batter, Brodie Greene, laid down a bunt to the left of the pitcher’s mound. Johnny Dorn’s throw to first, however, was high and wide of the bag, allowing the sophomore to reach safely and Brown to score from third to give the Aggies a 2-0 lead.
Nebraska answered in the bottom of the third. Jake Mort led off with a double to left field and, one out later, advanced to third on a balk. Mitch Abeita drove him home with an RBI groundout to third base to cut the lead in half.
The Huskers put runners at second and third with no outs in the fifth off starter Brooks Raley, but the freshman got a comebacker off the bat of Abeita and picked Mort off third base for the first out of the inning, then back-to-back pop outs to end the inning.
Mort began the seventh with a line-drive triple past a diving Brian Ruggiano and into the corner, putting the tying run at third base. Aggie reliever Kyle Thebeau then struck out Jake Opitz and with the infield in got Abeita to ground out to short. Thebeau worked a 2-1 count to the next batter, Craig Corriston, but uncorked a wild pitch to bring Mort home and tie the game.
Ruggiano delivered a one-out RBI single to right in the eighth to give A&M the 3-2 advantage.
Carter, Ruggiano and catcher Kevin Gonzalez all posted two hits on the night. Three Aggies—Kyle Colligan, Stouffer and Carter—tied a school record with eight at-bats on the evening.
Raley lasted six innings and gave up four hits and one run (earned). He walked five and fanned three.
Starling (8-0) went eight shutout innings, allowing four hits and one walk while fanning one to pick up the win.
“Starling had an incredible outing, in spite of me,” Childress said. “I didn’t send him out to start the ninth, and asked (Kyle) Thebeau to do something he hasn’t normally done this year. For this team to overcome my mistake there is pretty impressive.”
Dorn went eight for Nebraska, issuing three walks and five hits while allowing two runs and striking out six.
The series continues Saturday with first pitch at Hawks Field set for 2:05 p.m. A&M will send freshman Barret Loux (4-1, 4.28 ERA) to the hill to face Husker senior Thad Weber (8-2, 3.75). The game will air locally in Bryan/College Station on WTAW-AM 1620, and will be televised on a tape-delay basis by CBS College Sports (first airing Sunday, 12 p.m. CT).
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES
• The 16-inning game was the longest Big 12 game in school history…the Aggies had previously played three 12-inning games, most recently on March 14 against Texas Tech…at 16 innings, the game was the longest since A&M fell to Arkansas, 11-9 in 16 innings, at Olsen Field on May 5, 1989.
• Travis Starling’s eight innings of work was twice his previous career long…Starling’s longest outing before Friday was four innings at Baylor on April 20.
• Friday’s attendance of 8,708 was the highest in Big 12 this year and the third highest in Hawks Field history.
• Texas A&M was hit by five pitches on the night, bringing its season total to a school-record 79…the previous season high was 75 set in 2007.
• In the 2007-08 athletic season, Texas A&M has now played a triple-overtime football game (Fresno State, Sept. 5), a five-overtime basketball game (men’s basketball vs Baylor, Jan. 23) and a 16-inning baseball game.
• Game-time temperature was 62 degrees with partly sunny skies and winds blowing in from right at nine miles per hour.