By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
OKLAHOMA CITY - As Hall of Famer and wordsmith Yogi Berra would say, it was déjà vu all over again.
A year ago, Texas A&M's Brodie Greene hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning to win the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.
"Last year we said we didn't think we'd ever see another walk off homer to win a title," Aggies designated hitter Matt Juengel said.
Sunday it happened again. Senior Andre Collazo, the No. 9 hitter in the Texas A&M lineup, drove a 1-2 pitch to left field for a two-out home run in the bottom of the 10th to give the Aggies a 10-9 victory over Missouri. It was his first homer of the season and made up for an error he committed during the Tigers' two-run ninth-inning rally. Colloza was selected as the Big 12 Championship most outstanding player.
"I knew I had to just put the ball in play," said Collazo, whose shot into the bleachers got a boost from a strong wind. "I knew the wind was howling out to left field and I knew once it got in the wind it kept carrying and once I reached first, I knew it was out."
The Tigers, the first No. 8 seed to reach the title game, suffered a bitter end to their season. Missouri (27-32) needed a victory to earn the Big 12's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Mizzou jumped to a six-run lead after two innings, scored two in the top of the ninth to take a 9-8 lead and was one strike away from winning.
"It was a tough one to lose for a lot of reasons," said Missouri coach Tim Jamieson, whose team rallied from a 2-9 start in Big 12 play. "I'm incredibly proud of the effort and I didn't want to see it end. It hurts, we put a lot of effort into it and you see it finally come together like it can. These guys are a good enough team to keep playing."
Texas A&M will host one of 16 regional sites when the NCAA tournament starts Friday. Any team that faces the Aggies should know that no lead is safe. The Aggies overcame a 5-0 deficit to win its opening game then rallied from 5-0 and 8-4 deficits to defeat Kansas State Saturday.
Missouri DH Jonah Schmidt had two-run doubles in the first and the second innings as the Tigers raced to a 6-0 lead. In the third inning, Missouri had the bases loaded with one out and the top of the order hitting but failed to score.
Escaping that predicament fueled Texas A&M's five-run bottom of the third. Juengel, Jacob House and Adam Smith had run-scoring hits. The Aggies took a 7-6 lead with two runs in the fourth.
"That was a turning point, to get out of that inning and come in and score five runs gave us a little bit of life and momentum," Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said.
A one-out homer to left by Missouri's Conner Mach tied the game at 7-all in the sixth but the Aggies regained the lead when Tigers shortstop Jesse Santo failed to get a force at second on a two-out grounder.
"It was definitely the most up and down game I've been a part of," Schmidt said. "We
came out so hot, swinging so well and we let them back into it with that one inning. There were a couple times I thought we had it won but you got to keep battling."
Santo atoned for that mistake by driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth but the Tigers couldn't maintain the edge. Juengel walked with one out and House grounded into a fielder's choice. Pinch runner Scott Arthur stole second to give pinch hitter Gregg Alcazar a chance to drive home the tying run.
Missouri reliever Phil McCormick just missed with a 2-2 pitch and on a full count Alcazar hit a chopper over third to send Arthur home and set up Colazzo's extra inning heroics.
"This team has actually sold out for one another," Texas A&M catcher Kevin Gonzalez said. "No matter how much you score on us, we're not going to give up, we're going to keep fighting."
2011 All-Tournament Team
1B: Jacob House, Texas A&M
2B: Andrew Collazo, Texas A&M*
SS: Brandon Loy, Texas
3B: Jason King, Kansas State
C: Kevin Gonzalez, Texas A&M
OF: Conner Mach, Missouri
OF: Paul Montalbano, Texas
OF: Tyler Naquin, Texas A&M
DH: Jonah Schmidt, Missouri
P: Taylor Jungmann, Texas
P: Michael Wacha, Texas A&M
P: Kelly Fick, Missouri
* - Most Outstanding Player
How the runs scored
Missouri 1st: Brannon Champagne infield single. Eric Garcia single to left. Jonah Schmidt double to left, scoring Champagne and Garcia. Missouri 2, Texas A&M 0
Missouri 2nd: Jesse Santo doubled down the left-field line. Santo moves to third on C.J. Jarvis sac bunt advanced Santo to third. Andrew Thigpen walks. Brannon Champagne singles to right, Santo scores. Eric Garcia singles up the middle, Thigpen scores. Jonah Schmidt doubles to center, Champagne and Garcia score. Missouri 6, Texas A&M 0
Texas A&M 3rd: Brandon Wood doubles. Kenny Jackson singles up the middle, Wood scores. Andrew Collazo reaches on an error, Jackson advances to second. Tyler Naquin flies out to center, Jackson advances to third. Krey Bratsen flies out to right, Jackson scores. Collazo advances to second on a passed ball. Matt Juengel singles, Collazo scores, Juengel advances to second on throw home. Jacob House singles to center, Juengel scores. Adam Smith doubles to left field, House scores. Missouri 6, Texas A&M 5
Texas A&M 4th: Kenny Jackson singles to left. Andrew Collazo singles to left. Tyler Naquin hit by pitch. Krey Bratsen flies out to right, Jackson scores. Matt Jungel singles, Collazo scores. Texas A&M 7, Missouri 6
Missouri 6th: Conner Mach homers to left. Missouri 7, Texas A&M 7
Texas A&M 7th: Matt Juengel single. Jacob House sac bunt, Juengel to second. Adam Smith fielder's choice, Juengel to third. Kevin Gonzalez fielder's choice, Juengel scores. Texas A&M 8, Missouri 7
Missouri 9th: Eric Garcia singles. Jonah Schmidt reaches on a fielder's choice, Garcia advances to second on an error. Blake Brown grounds out to second, Schmidt advances to second, Garcia scores. Ben Turner singles to left, Schmidt advances to third. Santo singles to right, Turner advances to third, Schmidt scores. Missouri 9, Texas A&M 8
Texas A&M 9th: Matt Juengel walks. Jacob House reaches on a fielder's choice. Scott Arthur pinch runs for House, steals second. Gregg Alcazar pinch-hit, singles through left side, Arthur scores. Texas A&M 9, Missouri 9
Texas A&M 10th: Andrew Collazo home run to left field. Texas A&M 10, Missouri 9
Texas A&M in the Big 12 Championship
1998: Texas Tech 14, Texas A&M 7
2001: Nebraska 7, Texas A&M 4
2007: Texas A&M 14, Baylor 6
2010: Texas A&M 5, Baylor 3 (10 innings)
2011: Texas A&M 10, Missouri 9 (10 innings)
Missouri in the Big 12 Championship
2004: Oklahoma State 9, Missouri 9 (13 innings)
2009: Texas 12, Missouri 7
2011: Texas A&M 10, Missouri 9 (10 innings)
Big 12 Baseball Champions
Texas Tech (1998)
Nebraska (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005)
Texas (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009)
Oklahoma State (2004)
Texas A&M (2007, 2010, 2011)
Championship Attendance: 59,069