OKLAHOMA CITY — This was a favor the members of the Missouri baseball team did not return.
With three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Texas defeated Oklahoma 11-10 Saturday morning in an unorthodox and unpredictable game in the Big 12 Conference tournament at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The Longhorns’ victory handed the Tigers an invitation to today’s championship game on the condition that they defeat Texas A&M.
They did not, sending the invitation right back to Texas, which will now play for the title.
After the game Missouri coach Tim Jamieson gave Texas A&M’s freshman starter Barret Loux credit for the 6-2 victory.
Loux (5-2), who picked up a win against Missouri during the regular season when the Aggies swept the Tigers, held the Tigers scoreless in his 6 1/3 innings of work because of his ability to pitch inside, according to Jamieson.
“It’s a good match-up for him against us, and we don’t spend a lot of time working on the inner part of the plate because you don’t see it that much in college baseball,” he said. “If it’s a guy throwing in the low 90s and has command of that part of plate, it’s a tough pitch to hit. We tried to make adjustments, but he was better than we were today.”
Missouri starter Ian Berger (4-5) gave up the same number of hits, four, as Loux while pitching six innings. But a walk and two throwing errors by the junior in the fifth inning led to four Aggies runs, three of which came on Big 12 Player of the Year Jose Duran’s 3-run home run.
“I thought I pitched really well, working both sides of the plate,” Berger said. “I mean I wasn’t trying to make an error, but I did, and when I had to overcome it, I didn’t and I hung a breaking ball. Duran’s a good hitter, one of the best in the Big 12, and he made me pay for it.”
Although they sat with sad faces while addressing the loss after the game, Jamieson and the players who spoke hardly seemed discouraged about their future after failing, for the second time in three days, to win a game that would have sent them to today’s championship match.
“We know we’re a good team, and A&M, they’ve had our number all year,” said first baseman Steve Gray, the only Missouri player with two hits, including a solo home run, in the game. “They played better than us today, and it was the same when we were at their place. They’re a good team, and we know we’re a good team, and we can beat them when we play our best, but today we didn’t. And I think going into (the NCAA) Regional) we’ll be at our best.”
Jamieson pointed out that the scoreboard looked “very similar except for the final score,” bringing attention to the fact that Missouri was only out-hit by a 7-6 margin. However, he then mentioned the two errors by Berger, compared with none for Texas A&M, that led to Duran’s home run.
“Outside of that, it was really a pretty evenly played game, and give your hats off to A&M. Hopefully we can get them going now for the regional, get the monkey off their back,” he said, referring to Texas A&M ending its eight-game losing streak against his team. The Aggies claimed the Big 12 regular season championship despite dropping their final five conference games.
Both No. 9 Missouri and No. 13 Texas A&M are expected to be included in the 64 teams selected for the NCAA tournament on Monday. While Texas A&M will likely host its four-team regional tournament, Missouri will probably have to win on the road to advance.
Jamieson named only two teams, North Carolina and Miami (Florida), that he considered great, meaning his team’s preseason goal of making it to the College World Series is well within reach.
“Whoever gets hot at the right time is going to win a regional, win a super regional and get to Omaha. Hopefully, that’s us,” he said.
But he conceded that his team, which committed eight errors in three tournament games and 13 errors in its past six games overall, will have to play better in the field.
“We’ve got to play a little sounder baseball than we did this weekend. When you get to this point in the year, you’ve got to minimize the mistakes, particularly defensively,” he said.