COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Starting pitcher Corey Ray held Rice at bay early and Texas A&M built a 6-0 lead as the Aggies held on for a 6-5 win over the No. 16 Owls at Reckling Park on Tuesday night.
The Aggies turned the Owls from predator to prey early in the contest with two runs in the top of the first inning. With one out, Logan Taylor drew a walk and Cole Lankford lashed single to rightfield and an error in the outfield allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Nick Banks plated Taylor with a single to rightfield and Jonathan Moroney sent Lankford home with a sacrifice fly to stake the Aggies’ to a 2-0 lead.
The Owls spotted A&M three more runs in the top of the third. Ryne Birk worked a walk to start the frame and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen. Jace Statum drew a walk to drive starter Caleb Smith from the contest. Reliever Ryan McCarthy induced a grounder to second base, but a bobble by Connor Teykl prevented the double play from being turned and the Aggies found themselves with two runners in scoring position. Taylor hit a wall-banger to leftfield for a two-run triple and scored when Lankford slapped a single into leftfield for the 5-0 advantage.
Texas A&M (24-17) manufactured what proved to be an important insurance run in the top of the sixth. Bratsen slapped a single to centerfield, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Statum and scored when Allemand laced a single up the middle for the 6-0 advantage.
Rice tallied a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Shane Hoelscher singled to the gap in left-center and Chase McDowell looped a single down the rightfield line to put runners on the corners. Connor Teykl put the Owls on the scoreboard, dropping a single in front of A&M centerfielder Bratsen to knock in Hoelscher. With one out, Blake Fox singled to leftfield to load the bases and McDowell came home to score when pitcher Corey Ray’s pickoff attempt at second base sailed into centerfield, cutting the margin to 6-2.
With the Aggies holding a four-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth, Parker Ray came in to close out the game. He gave up singles to Michael Aquino and Hunter Kopycinski to start the fame and loaded the bases by issuing a walk to Keenan Cook. Charlie Warren knocked in Aquino with a sacrifice fly to trim the lead to 6-3. The Aggies would call on the flying shoes of Nick Banks to record the second out as Hoelscher hit a slicing drive down the rightfield line, but the A&M outfielder made a diving catch to rob Hoelscher of extra-bases. Rice loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk to pinch-hitter Kirby Taylor and Teykl cut the A&M lead to 6-5 gapping a single to right-center to drive in two.
Rice had runners on the corners and two outs when AJ Minter came in and hit Ford Stainback with a pitch to load the bases. The Aggies went back to the bullpen and called on Andrew Vinson. The A&M sophomore faced pinch-hitter Andrew Murphy and got him to fly out to centerfield for the final out of the game and his Vinson’s second save of the season.
Corey Ray (4-0) earned the win in the outing as he cruised through the first five innings, allowing just one hit and exited game after working 6.0 innings, yielding two runs, one earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out three. Ty Schlottman retired six of the seven batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings.
Smith (1-2) was saddled with the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, on two hits and three walks while striking out two over 1.1 innings.
Lankford led all hitters at the plate, going 4-for-5 with one run and one RBI. Stein added a pair of hits.
Teykle paced Rice’s offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBI.
The Aggies return to action on Thursday when Texas A&M and Mississippi State are featured in the Thursday Night SEC Game of the Week at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On tonight’s game…
“I thought we played really well. We had a great performance on the mound from Corey (Ray) and Ty (Schlottmann) those first eight innings. The two guys were fabulous. We grabbed the lead early and held on late and Vinnie (Andrew Vinson) came in and got the biggest out of the game. I’m just really proud of our guys going out on the road and getting a big win. It will help us down the road and most importantly this weekend.”
On Corey Ray…
“I thought he induced a lot of early outs. He threw his fastball for a strike and facing all of those left-handers, he really used the changeup effectively. He proved early he could throw it for a strike and cruised through those middle innings. They got on him in the sixth, but he was able to get out of it without giving up the big hit. The got a couple of runs, but he didn’t let it turn into a big inning.”
On the approach at the plate…
“I thought the approach was fantastic. For the last two months we’ve been playing really well offensively. That’s a tribute to our guys and our coaches. They go out and work hard at it every day.”
Junior pitcher Corey Ray
On his performance…
“I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes. Coach was calling a great game and Troy (Stein) caught a great game and we played great defensively.”