COLLEGE STATION, Texas- Darby Brown drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Dane Carter added a two-run blast in the eighth as No. 20 Texas A&M defeated Northern Colorado, 5-2, before 3,461 fans on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Olsen Field.
The late offensive punch was a perfect complement to another great outing by the Aggie pitching staff, as starter Scott Migl and relievers Kevin Cravey and Travis Starling combined to allow just five hits and strike out nine UNC batters.
“It was important for us to come out and play well today,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I talked to the team this morning and told them that we have to get back to playing old-school, hard-nosed, chip-on-your-shoulder Aggie baseball. It’s not easy. Winning is hard and we were not surprised with the way the game went today. Northern Colorado has got a very good team, a much older team with depth in their pitching staff, and they are well-coached. It was a well-played game.”
The Aggies (2-2) struck first with a single run in the home half of the third inning.
Junior catcher Brian Ruggiano drove the first pitch of the frame into the left center field gap for his second double of the season, then subsequently moved to third on a deep fly ball to right by freshman right fielder Brooks Raley.
Two pitches later, senior left fielder Ben Feltner drove a single back up the middle to plate Ruggiano and give the Aggies the early lead. For Feltner, it was his second RBI of the young season.
The run allowed Migl to settle in and turn in a strong start. After the first UNC batter of the game reached on an error, the sophomore retired 12 of the next 13 batters.
Northern Colorado (2-2) would finally get a rally going in the top of the sixth, as they loaded the bases to start the inning on a single sandwiched between a pair of hit batsmen, but would manage only one run.
UNC third baseman Adam Symons stepped to the plate with no outs and drove in the run on a sacrifice fly to left field. Migl was then able to get first baseman Kevin Sandberg to pop out to short with runners on the corners, then got out of the jam when left fielder Andy Mees lined out to center.
Northern Colorado starter Dan Kazell would issue back-to-back four-pitch walks to begin the Aggie half of the frame, then, after a wild pitch moved the runners up, walked center fielder Kyle Colligan on a full count to give A&M a bases-loaded, no-out situation of their own.
Dane Carter would cash in Raley from third with a sacrifice fly to put the Aggies on top 2-1, but a groundout and a failed steal of home ended the threat.
After a walk and a sacrifice bunt to start the UNC seventh, Bear center fielder Sean Zyer cued one just inside the third base bag and down the line to plate Erik Whinery, tie the game at two and chase Migl from the game.
UNC could not take the lead, however, as Cravey struck out Cory Morales and coaxed Hegstad into a weak comebacker to end the inning.
A&M first baseman Luke Anders led off the bottom half of the seventh with a double to the warning track in left center off Bear reliever Jason Banks, who struck out the subsequent batter—shortstop Jose Duran—but a passed ball on the final pitch allowed Anders to move to third and Duran to reach safely. Brown would then push a ground ball to the right side to score Anders with the eventual game-winner.
Carter added some insurance in the eighth with a two-run home run off the light pole in right field, his first of the season and the second of his career.
Travis Starling did not allow a hit in the ninth in picking up his first save of the season.
Migl would not factor in the decision, but would go 6 1/3 innings and allow five hits, two runs and a walk while striking out five.
Cravey (1-0), a redshirt freshman, picked up his first career victory, tossing 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball while walking one and striking out two.
“All weekend long I thought we did a good job on the mound,” Childress said. “I felt like we pitched well enough to be 4-0, and Northern Colorado pitched well enough to be 4-0 too. It was a well-pitched weekend by both teams.”
Kazell went six for the Bears and allowed just three hits and two runs while walking two and fanning five. Banks (0-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing three runs (two earned) and two hits over 1 1/3 innings of work.
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies open a two-game series with McNeese State (0-3) at Olsen Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the series will conclude on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Tickets for both games are available at the gate or online at aggieathletics.com. Fans can also take advantage of the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ticket promotion for either contest, through which kids 12 and under will receive free admission with a paid adult. There is a limit of four kids per adult and all seats are general admission.
POSTGAME NOTES: Dane Carter tied a career high with three RBI on the day…Carter also drove in three against Dallas Baptist on May 5, 2007…Brian Ruggiano was the only Aggie to hit safely in every game of the series…For the weekend, Ruggiano hit .538 with two doubles, a home run and three RBI…On the weekend, the Texas A&M bullpen went 2-1 with a 1.46 ERA…The Aggie pen allowed five hits in 12 1/3 innings of work and held the Bears to a .125 average…A&M did not steal a base in the final three games of the series, the longest the Aggies have gone without a swipe since a four-game stretch from April 8-13, 2006…The weekend attendance for the series was 13,927…game-time weather was 73 degrees with clear skies and winds blowing in from center at 10 miles per hour…A&M now leads the all-time series, 5-2.