COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 23 Mizzou baseball evened its series with top-ranked Texas A&M with a 3-2 win on Saturday afternoon (March 28) at Blue Bell Park. The win improves the Tigers to 20-8 and 6-2 in SEC play, matching their win totals both overall and in SEC play from a season ago at the midway point of 2015. Texas A&M falls to 26-2 and 6-2 in SEC play and the loss is the Aggies' first at home this season.
The win for Mizzou is the eighth one-run win of the season for the squad and it is also the Tigers third over a top-10 opponent this season. The Tigers are now 8-1 in one-run games this season and 3-1 when tied after seven innings. The Tigers are also now 14-2 away from Taylor Stadium this season. Freshman Tanner Houck (Collinsville, Ill.) picked up his third win of the season, going 7.0 innings while scattering eight hits and allowing only two earned runs. He struck out three and walked two. Junior closer Breckin Williams (Oronogo, Mo.) earned the two-inning save, his seventh of the season. Texas A&M's Ty Schlottmann took the loss, his first of the season.
Offensively, Mizzou was out-hit 12-7 and each team stranded 10 baserunners in the game. But the Tigers got the hits when they needed them. Sophomore Ryan Howard (St. Charles, Mo.) lined a full-count fastball down the right field line for a go-ahead, RBI double in the top of the eighth inning, scoring Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) from first base. Howard was one of two Tigers with a pair of hits Saturday, joining sophomore Jake Ring (Ingleside, Ill.) who went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.) and Logan Bone (Festus, Mo.) also added RBIs in the win. Brett Peel (St. Charles, Mo.) went 1-for-3 with a walk as he reached base safely for the 25th consecutive game.
The Tigers also played phenomenal defense, getting Houck out of huge jams in the fourth and sixth innings, both times using the double-play combination of Howard and Peel. Ring also made a sensational catch in the bottom of the eighth inning to help Williams escape with a shutout frame.
Houck cruised through the first inning, but All-American Nick Banks roped a 0-2 slider into the bullpen in right field to lead off the second inning for his second homer of the year. That gave Texas A&M a 1-0 lead and the Aggies added to it in the third inning. A double by Hunter Melton to open the frame led to an RBI single by shortstop Blake Allemand, staking the Aggies to a 2-0 lead after three innings.
Mizzou evened the game in the top of the fourth thanks to an error in left field by Logan Taylor, putting runners on first and second for Brett Bond (St. Louis, Mo.), who roped an RBI single into right field to cut the lead in half. Logan Bone (Festus, Mo.) then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score a run from third to tie the game at 2-2.
Both teams missed opportunities to score in the middle innings until Ryan Howard (St. Charles, Mo.) got a huge RBI double in the top of the eighth inning, scoring Lester from first. Howard worked a full count against Schlottmann and ripped an inside fastball down the right field line to score Lester from first. Williams then came on in the eighth and got a huge strikeout with runners on the corners to send the game to the ninth.
A&M put runners on the corners with just one out in the ninth inning, but Williams got a pop-up to left and a grounder to short to escape the jam, saving his seventh game of the season. He threw 33 pitches in the outing.
Mizzou and Texas A&M will play the rubber game of the three-game series Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Blue Bell Park. Mizzou will send junior righty Peter Fairbanks (2-2, 1.82 ERA) to the mound against Matt Kent (5-0, 3.20 ERA).