OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – It was The Day Of The Underdog at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship. And perhaps no team is more adept at playing the role than Missouri.
The sixth-seeded Tigers earned Friday off and became the second team to stay undefeated at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Missouri took an early lead and never let No. 2 seed Texas A&M take control on the way to a 5-3 victory to cap Thursday's four games.
All four winners Thursday were lower seeded teams. That's the second time that has happened in the Big 12 Championship and the first time since 2003. The Tigers and No. 4 seed Oklahoma are 2-0 in their half of the bracket. No. 1 seed Baylor will face Kansas State at 3:15 p.m. Friday while the Aggies (42-15) will take on Kansas at 7 p.m.
"Timely hitting, good pitching and good defense gave us a chance," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said.
Starter Blake Holovach pitched 5.1 winnings to lift his record to 7.1. Jeff Emmens got the save, going 3.2 innings, not allowing a hit and striking out six.
"A&M is a great offense but they get a lot of their hits off of fastballs," Emmens said. "I knew if I kept my off speed down I would get some ground balls and that was case tonight."
Missouri manufactured its first run. In the second inning, Connor Mach singled, was bunted to second, moved to third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch. The Aggies tied it in the top of the fourth but the Tigers regained the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth.
Blake Brown led off by turning on a Michael Wacha fast ball and hammering it out of the park. The shot caromed off the parking garage attached to the hotel beyond the left field fence.
A year ago, as the No. 8 seed, Missouri near stole an NCAA bid. The Tigers reached the Big 12 Championship game and were one strike away from winning. Texas A&M, though, won the game in extra innings with a walk off home run.
Missouri battled back through the loser's bracket in 2011. Now, the Tigers (30-26) are two victories away from accomplishing what they didn't last year.
Texas A&M has to win three games just to reach Sunday's championship game.
"Now, we're fighting an uphill battle and we'll find out how tough we are in the next few days," Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. "We need to embrace this opportunity. We'll find out how deep our pitching is. We're going to take that one at a time until we get to Sunday. We've got a tough team here."