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April 29, 2011

Tigers walk to an upset

It was an improbable ending to an improbable game.

The Missouri baseball team used three hit batters and two walks in the ninth inning to beat No. 6 Texas A&M 10-9 Friday night at Taylor Stadium.

The Tigers (last in the Big 12 heading into the game) upset the Aggies (first in conference) with consecutive two-out walks with the bases loaded against one of the league leaders in saves, Joaquin Hinojosa.

After sophomore Eric Garcia drew a base on balls to tie the game, senior Jonah Schmidt earned the walk-off walk after battling from 0-2 in the count. When he jogged down the first base line and stepped on the bag, he was enveloped by a swarm of teammates in a mad celebration.

"We've made an emphasis this series with … battling with two strikes," Schmidt said. "Eric did it the at-bat before that, he fouled off three or four good pitches. I just wanted to continue that and get in there and compete."

What made the comeback even sweeter for Missouri was a rollercoaster previous two innings. Coming into the bottom of the seventh down 6-1, the Tigers rallied for seven runs to grasp their first lead of the game.

Missouri chased Aggies ace John Stilson, who came into the game with a 1.12 ERA. The big blows were a two-run double from sophomore Blake Brown and a two-run single from sophomore Ben Turner.

"To think you're going to score seven runs any time is not realistic, but then against that pitching staff is beyond belief," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said.

Schmidt said Missouri knew Stilson's composure could be broken with a rally.


"Stilson's a great pitcher, but we've always known that if you get to him he gets a little rattled," Schmidt said. "He has a tendency to speed up and his stuff's not as good."

But Texas A&M struck back to take the lead the next inning against senior Phil McCormick. With the bases loaded and one out, Tyler Naquin shot a bases clearing double just fair down the left field line. The Aggies led 9-8.

But Missouri wasn't prepared to give up easily.

"[The mood] was a lot better than I expected when I came back into the dugout," Brown said. "There was a lot of fight still in everybody's eyes."

Jamieson thought keeping the deficit small was crucial to Missouri's chances.

"I really thought if we could keep it a run, the guys believed they could come back," Jamieson said.

In the bottom of the ninth, senior <Ryan Ampleman led off by getting hit by a pitch. After he was sacrificed to second by senior Andrew Thigpen, freshman C.J. Jarvis and junior Conner Mach were also hit by pitches. A strike out by sophomore Brannon Champagne then set the stage for Garcia and Schmidt's walks.

Missouri sophomore Eric Anderson pitched his longest outing since coming back from shoulder surgery that cut short his freshman campaign. Anderson went six innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits.

"That was the definitely the best he looked all year," said Turner, who caught Anderson.

After allowing four runs in the first three innings, Anderson settled down and put down seven in a row at one point.

Meanwhile, Stilson looked to be cruising to another victory. After giving up a run in the first inning, Stilson mostly stymied Missouri's bats for the next five.

The victory gives Missouri three wins in its last four conference games, going back to last weekend's series win at Baylor. The Tigers and Texas A&M meet again at 2 p.m. Saturday.


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