COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Texas A&M used a three-run eighth to break open a close game and got another strong outing from the pitching staff as the Aggies defeated McNeese State, 8-3, before 3,037 fans on a blustery Tuesday night at Olsen Field.
A&M (3-2) pounded out 12 hits on the night, one shy of its season high, seven of which were of the extra-base variety.
“When we showed up at the park today and we saw 20 mile-per-hour north winds, we knew we had to have line drives and ground balls,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Their starting pitcher wasn’t overpowering but did a nice job, and there in the middle innings we finally starting making adjustments and got things going the way we’re capable of doing.”
In addition, four Aggie pitchers combined to allow McNeese (0-4) six hits and two earned runs on the night, stranding seven Cowboy runners on the basepaths.
The Cowboys struck first in the third inning off A&M sophomore Shane Minks, who got the leadoff hitter—Josh Cholley—to fan at a two-strike pitch in the dirt. The ball got away from catcher Brian Ruggiano, however, allowing Cholley to reach safely on the wild pitch. The McNeese right fielder promptly stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball, then came home on an RBI single by Sam Merrill.
The Aggies took the lead with a three-run fourth on a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple to right by shortstop Jose Duran and a subsequent RBI single to left center by designated hitter Keith McInnerney.
After a walk and a hit batsmen with two outs in the McNeese fifth, MSU shortstop Shon Landry punched a 1-1 pitch into left center to cut the A&M lead to 3-2.
Once again, Texas A&M would respond, this time with a two-spot in the bottom half of the frame. Dane Carter tripled in center fielder Kyle Colligan, then came home on an RBI groundout by second baseman Blake Stouffer to make the score 5-2.
Cowboy third baseman Lee Orr would lead off the seventh with a hit by pitch, then steal second, move to third on a wild pitch and score MSU’s third run on a balk.
A sacrifice fly by Brodie Greene, a suicide squeeze by Ben Feltner and a pinch-hit single to center by Caleb Shofner would all plate runs for the Aggies in the eighth to give A&M the final 8-2 margin.
Minks, making his first career start, picked up the win to improve to 2-0 on the season. He lasted five innings and gave up two hits, two runs (one earned) while walking four and fanning five.
Senior Blake Rampy relieved Minks in Rampy’s first appearance for A&M since April 26, 2005. He went 2 1/3 innings and allowed a run on three hits.
“I was proud that we got Blake back,” Childress said. “It was his first outing in a long, long time and I thought he was really good. He was working fast, pounding the strike zone and gave us two really good innings.”
Newcomers Brooks Raley and Hank Robertson combined for one-hit relief over the final 1 2/3 innings.
MSU starter Ryan Frantz (0-1) suffered the loss after tossing six innings and giving up eight hits, five runs (all earned) and three walks while striking out two.
Carter, Ruggiano, Duran and McInnerney—making his first career start—all collected two hits on the evening. True freshman Nick Fleece recorded his first career hit with a long double in the eighth, while Shofner’s eighth-inning RBI came in his first collegiate at-bat.
Texas A&M and McNeese State will conclude the series on Wednesday at 3 p.m. 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. In addition, those attending the game can get two slices of pizza and a drink for $5 as part of the new "Dinner at the Diamond" promotion.
POSTGAME NOTES: Shane Minks lasted a career-best five innings and tied a career high with four strikeouts…Blake Rampy’s appearance was his first since April 26, 2005, a span of 1,037 days…the Aggie offense posted four two-out RBI after having a total of three over the four-game series with Northern Colorado…Dane Carter became the first Aggie to have two triples in a game since May 21, 1999…Chad Hudson was the last to accomplish the feat, on May 21, 1999 in a 10-3 win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City…Carter also extended his hitting streak to three games, and has posted an extra-base hit in three of A&M’s five games…Brian Ruggiano has hit safely in all five games in 2008…Keith McInnerney’s eighth-inning RBI was the first of his career…The Aggies have now won eight straight against McNeese State and lead the overall series, 24-5…Game-time weather conditions: 52 degrees, clear, wind blowing in from center at 20 mph (gusts to 25).