A&M Denies Texas Big 12 Title

Last game of the season…at home…against your archrival…the conference championship at stake…and Texas lost. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Omaha anymore.

Four. That’s how many unanswered runs the Aggies scored during the final three innings to claim a 4-1 series-winning contest at Disch-Falk Field on Sunday. Four. That’s how many base runners Texas left stranded at third. Four. That’s how many games starting pitcher Justin Simmons (4-5) won all year after his stunning 16-1 season last year in hurling Texas toward the 2002 national championship.

Bottom line: the Horns (38-16) and the Aggies (41-15) finished the year tied for second in the Big 12 standings at 19-8 behind league champ Nebraska (20-7).

Suddenly, the Big 12 Baseball Tournament (May 21-25 at the SBC Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City) becomes significant to Texas’ chances of hosting an NCAA Regional. The No. 3 seed Horns will likely need to win at least two games, starting with sixth-seeded Oklahoma State at 10 a.m., Wednesday.

Consecutive one-out singles from Omar Quintanilla and Eric Sultemeier followed by a fielding error and Dustin Majewski’s sacrifice fly produced a 1-0 Texas lead in the bottom of the first. Quintanilla went 3-for-4 with a run scored while Joe Ferin extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games with a triple in the fifth.

Simmons hard-luck season continued in that last year’s ace pitched an otherwise solid game, holding the Farmers scoreless until the seventh. Simmons struck out three and walked none during 6.2 innings of work.

But with two gone in the top of the seventh, the Aggies tallied just their second hit of the afternoon with a single from Cliff Pennington before Cory Patton connected on a two-run homer over the right field wall.

After the Longhorns threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the frame, the Aggies scratched across single runs in both the eighth and ninth innings off of Huston Street courtesy of a RBI-base hit from Erik Schindewolf and an error to build a 4-1 lead. A&M reliever Robert Ray picked up the win by allowing only one hit and fanning four over 2.1 frames while Simmons took the loss.

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