COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Sophomore center fielder Krey Bratsen’s walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth brought home the winning run as the No. 6 Texas A&M baseball team survived a roller coast final inning to defeat Missouri 7-6 in front of 3,947 fan at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies’ victory was the eighth in their last nine games and improved their overall record to 22-6 with a 4-2 record in Big 12 games.
“It’s never over until it’s over,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “Missouri’s not going to go away. It’s like I said before the series started, I wouldn’t expect the ninth inning to be any different. I think it’s about par for the course for when we get together…Bottom line is we won the game and I thought we played really well today.”
After Missouri (16-11, 3-3 Big 12) scored in the top of the first off Aggie starter Rafael Pineda, A&M struck back to tie the game in the home half of the inning by pushing across a run when left fielder Brandon Wood drew a bases-loaded walk.
Bratsen, who went 3-for-6 with three RBI in the contest, put the Aggies ahead for the first time in the contest during the bottom of the second as he plated a run with an RBI groundout.
Wood brought home his second run of the day with an RBI infield single in the fifth before the Aggies added two runs during the sixth inning on RBI singles by Bratsen and right fielder Tyler Naquin to build a 5-1 advantage.
Naquin, who entered the weekend leading the Big 12 in hitting, went 3-for-4 on Sunday to raise his team-best batting average to .412.
After scoring on a fielding error in the seventh, Texas A&M brought a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning. Redshirt freshman Jason Freeman, who had pitched a perfect seventh and eighth, began the inning, but was pulled after allowing back-to-back singles with one out.
Following a walk issued by senior reliever Estevan Uriegas, junior Kyle Martin (3-2) came in from the bullpen and saw his defense commit two errors and not record an out on two attempted double plays before getting the third out of the frame. After the dust settled from the top of the ninth, Missouri had scored five runs to tie the game at 6-6.
“Pineda didn’t have his best stuff today, but he was able to battle and give us a quality start,” Childress added. “Jason Freeman was outstanding, and I thought Kyle (Martin) did a great job in the ninth … It was a great sign of toughness there in the bottom of the ninth. We get to two outs with nothing really going for us and we were able to battle and make something out of nothing. Krey was able to get the big hit for us.”
With the thought “Olsen Magic” on the minds of the Aggie faithful, Texas A&M got a pinch hit single from sophomore Jace Statum to begin the bottom of the ninth. However, the inning took an ominous turn as Statum was picked off at second following a sacrifice that moved him into scoring position.
The final two-out rally began when freshman Chance Bolcerek drew a walk on a full count and was replaced at first by pinch runner Charlie Curl. Junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds joined Curl on base as he walked in the next at bat to set the scene for Bratsen’s heroics
The Bryan, Texas, native got a 2-2 fastball from Missouri reliever Brett Graves (1-3) and drove the pitch through the left side of the infield to score Curl and finally secure the A&M victory.
“It was frustrating watching the top half of the ninth, but at the same time, that’s the game of baseball,” Bratsen said. “It’s known as the game of failures for a reason. I felt bad for Mikey because I know he felt awful after the error he made. We just tried to pick him up their after the inning…It’s kind of ironic, when I came in after Missouri’s big inning, coach (Andy) Sawyers came up to me and said ‘Krey, get up, you’re about to get the winning hit,’ and sure enough, I did. It surprised me, but I’m glad it happened.”
The Aggies are back in action on Tuesday when they host UTSA in a 6:35 p.m. contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.