No. 5 Aggies drop back-to-back heartbreakers

Texas A&M needed one win on Sunday to capture the Big 12 regular season title. But the fifth-ranked Aggies blew a four-run lead in game one and a five-run lead in game two, postponing the Big 12 title celebration at least one weekend. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp reports live from Lincoln.

No. 5 Aggies lose back-to-back heartbreakers Dallas Shipp

LINCOLN, Neb.—Heading into the bottom of the ninth of game one in Sunday's double-header, the fifth-ranked Aggies could taste it. They were three outs away from their first Big 12 regular season championship since 1999.

That's when all hell broke loose.

With an 8-4 lead, A&M reliever Kyle Thebeau gave up a leadoff single to Nick Sullivan in the bottom of the ninth but then got the ground ball he was looking for to second baseman Blake Stouffer for what seemed to be a routine double play.

But Stouffer booted the grounder, setting off a disastrous chain of events defensively that would eventually cost the Aggies (42-10, 19-5) game one, and carry over throughout game two. It also left Thebeau with runners at first and second with nobody out instead of two outs and nobody on.

Thebeau didn't help his cause by walking the next batter before another error by Aggie first baseman Luke Anders sent the team into a total tailspin, allowing all runners to advance and a run to score.

The Aggies committed two errors in the bottom of the ninth to go along with three Cornhusker hits as part of a five-run ninth inning—three of which were unearned—that lifted the Huskers to a 9-8 win.

"(Thebeau) has been in that position before," said A&M head coach Rob Childress afterwards. "(He) got the routine ground ball for a double play, then with two outs and no one on in the ninth, you've got to feel like you're going to get out of that with a four-run lead. But you've got to give Nebraska credit. They came and took game one in the ninth, scoring five runs."

Despite the way game one ended, the Aggies bounced back quickly in game two, taking an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Jose Duran.

Nebraska (38-9-1, 17-6-1) would score three unanswered runs in the first and second inning to take a 3-1 lead, but again, the A&M offense would answer.

A&M scored three runs in the third and tacked on another in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. Then A&M shortstop Jose Duran capped off a four-run sixth inning with a three-run home run to left field, giving A&M a 9-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.

Once again, the Aggies appeared to be in control, but once again, they couldn't execute defensively.

Nebraska scored three runs in each of the final three innings at the plate, thanks in large part to three A&M defensive errors, a wild pitch and a pass ball.

Down by three in the top of the ninth in game two, the Aggies tried to mount a comeback of their own after back-to-back two-out walks to Brodie Green and Kevin Gonzalez brought Kyle Colligan to the plate with a chance to tie it up at 13. But Nebraska reliever Mike Nesseth got Colligan to pop up to the shortstop, sealing the Huskers' second-consecutive come-from-behind win of the day.

"We didn't do anything to deserve to win today. It's about executing a routine (defensively) and we certainly didn't do that," Childress said. I'm proud of the way we responded in game two. We did well offensively, but we still didn't execute the routine defensively and throwing strikes."

The Aggies committed 12 errors over the course of the three-game weekend series after committing just 18 errors in their first 21 conference games heading into this weekend.

The loss in game one on Sunday ended the Aggies' Big 12 record 16-game conference winning streak. The Huskers also ended a 31-game win streak for the Aggies when leading after eight innings. The last time the Aggies lost a lead heading into the ninth was in game one of the super regional series with Rice last year in Houston.

But Childress believes his team will learn from the experience.

"I saw a lot of toughness out of our group today," Childress said. "People are talking about what this series meant and I think definitely we're going to learn from this. This is a close knit group of guys and extremely competitive. It's the toughest group I've been a part of and they showed that again today. It doesn't show up in the win loss column, but we've got a tough group. We're all in this together."

• Nebraska has played in five double-header situations this season, and have swept all 10 games.
Texas A&M is now 0-4 in double-header games this season
• The four-run comeback in game one and the five-run comeback in game two are the third and second-largest comebacks in Mike Anderson's six-year career at Nebraska.
• Jose Duran extended his hit streak to 22 games with his three-run homer in the sixth inning. He was hitting .427 over the last 19 games heading into this weekend's series with Nebraska.

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