By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Given an opportunity to confirm its place in Sunday’s championship game, Texas A&M took full advantage.
The fourth-seeded Aggies guaranteed it will be the team to advance out of Pool One with their 7-2 victory over No. 8 seed Missouri Thursday night in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
In the preceding game, top seed and regular-season champion Texas lost to No. 5 seed Texas Tech, 4-2. The Longhorns’ second loss eliminated them from championship consideration. Texas A&M has the tiebreaker edge over both the Red Raiders and the Tigers so Saturday’s games (Texas vs. A&M and Missouri vs. Texas Tech) will have no bearing on Sunday’s title game matchup.
For the second consecutive day, the Aggies benefitted from an outstanding effort by their starter. Barrett Loux followed the example set by Michael Wacha, who had a perfect game through five innings against Texas Tech. Loux was perfect through 4.2 innings and finished going seven innings, allowing six hits and two runs.
So, what was working for the Aggies’ starter?
“Everything, moving the fastball in and out, the changeups and curveballs,” he said. “I threw a few sliders here and there.”
Texas A&M supported its starter by scratching out a four-run lead. Kevin Gonzalez had a run-scoring single in the top of the second and Joe Patterson plated a second run in the top of the third with a sacrifice fly.
In the top of the sixth, Brodie Greene bombed a homer to deep left and Patterson stole home to give A&M a 4-0 lead.
After the Tigers broke through with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 4-2, the Aggies responded by putting the game out of reach against a beleaguered Missouri pitching staff.
The Aggies scored a run in the top of the seventh on a triple into the right-field corner by Joaquin Hinojosa and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Naquin. In the eighth, Adam Smith singled, stole second and scored on a single by Gonzalez. He made it to third when Missouri right fielder Dane Opel misplayed the ball. Caleb Shofner’s single scored Gonzalez to make it 7-2.
“I think both teams knew coming into this game what it meant, the opportunity to play on Sunday,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I thought the story for us was Barret Loux, without question.”