COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Brian Ruggiano hit two home runs and drove in a career-high five to lead fifth-ranked Texas A&M to a 9-4 win over Dallas Baptist on “Military Appreciation Night” Friday before 3,942 fans at Olsen Field.
In the first multi-home run game of his career, Ruggiano’s round-trippers came in the second and third innings to help stake the Aggies to a 7-2 lead. It would be all Brooks Raley would need, as the freshman lefty held a potent Patriot offense to two runs over the first six innings.
With the victory, A&M improved to 39-8, while DBU fell to 30-14.
“We had some gritty at-bats tonight against a guy that has some outstanding stuff,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I was really proud of the way we pitched tonight. I thought Brooks Raley and Kyle Thebeau were outstanding. It was important for us to come back and answer the bell after last night’s performance.”
Dallas Baptist took the early lead for the second straight night. A two-run double to left center by catcher Brandon Bantz in the second gave the Patriots a 2-0 lead off Raley.
A&M would answer right back, however. In the bottom half of the frame, Luke Anders led off with a solo home run to right, his 12th of the season, to cut the lead in half. After a walk to Darby Brown, Brian Rugiano launched a two-run blast to right. The long ball, Ruggiano’s seventh of the year, gave the Aggies their first lead of the weekend at 3-2.
Blake Stouffer opened the Texas A&M third with a double into the right field corner, and scored one out later on a single up the middle by Jose Duran. With two outs, after a walk to Anders, Ruggiano blasted his second home run of the night—a three-run shot to left—that pushed the Aggie lead to 7-2.
The score would remain the same until the seventh, when shortstop Austin Knight laced a two-out, two-run double into the left field corner to pull DBU within three. The Aggies would then go to reliever Kyle Thebeau, who would walk the next batter but strike out cleanup hitter Trevor Head to get out of the inning.
Texas A&M would again answer the Patriots, as Duran and Anders each tallying RBI singles in the bottom of the frame to go back up by five.
Thebeau would allow only two baserunners in the final two innings to close out the game.
Ruggiano was one of five Aggies to post two-hit nights and led the way with five RBI. Duran and Anders drove in two runs apiece.
Knight paced the DBU attack, going 3-for-5 with two RBI.
Raley picked up his first win since April 4 as the freshman improved to a perfect 6-0 on the year. He allowed seven hits and four runs (all earned) over 6 2/3 innings, while walking one and fanning eight. The Aggies have won all nine games that Raley has started in 2008.
Thebeau picked up his third save of the year, allowing two hits and one walk over 2 1/3 shutout innings. He struck out five.
Black (1-4) suffered the loss, issuing five hits and seven runs (all earned) over three innings. He walked six and struck out one.
The series concludes Saturday with first pitch set for 2 p.m. The Aggies will send freshman Barret Loux (4-1, 4.02 ERA) to the mound, while DBU will counter with sophomore Ryan Millard (3-2, 7.53). The game will air locally on WTAW-AM 1620. Of note, due to Big 12 television restrictions, a free live video fed of the game will not be available on aggieathletics.com.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Friday marked the fourth annual “Military Appreciation Night” at Olsen Field…over 100 veterans were recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to the start of the game.
• Texas A&M posted its 15th multi-HR game of the season…the second inning marked the fourth time this year that the Aggies have homered twice in an at-bat…the last time that occurred was in the third inning at Baylor (April 19).
• The victory was A&M’s 20th come-from-behind win of the season.
• The Aggies have won all nine games in which Brooks Raley has started on the mound.
• Brian Ruggiano had the first multi-home run game of his career and drove in a career high five runs on the night.
• Luke Anders hit his 12th home run of the season in the second inning…it matched last year’s season high, set by both Craig Stinson and Blake Stouffer.
• Five Aggies posted multi-hit games: Dane Carter (28th season, 30th career)…Luke Anders (17th season, 37th career)…Blake Stouffer (11th season, 52nd career)…Jose Duran (26th season/career)…and Brian Ruggiano (18th season, 23rd career).
• Kelsey Black, the sister of DBU starter Victor Black, enrolled at Texas A&M in January and is a freshman outside hitter on coach Laurie Corbelli’s volleyball team…Black was a prep All-American at Amarillo High School.
• Game-time temperature was 83 degrees with clear skies and winds blowing in from center at nine miles per hour.