COLLEGE STATION, Texas—A three-run eighth inning broke a tie ballgame and lifted Texas A&M to an 8-5, come-from-behind victory over Ohio State Friday night before 5,051 fans at the Domino’s Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic at Olsen Field.
The victory was the Aggies’ fourth in a row as they improved to 5-2 on the year. Ohio State fell to 3-1.
“Tonight was the kind of effort I’ve been looking for from our team since the start of the season, that kind of toughness,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Down 5-1, it would have been easy to roll over and go through the motions, but what you saw tonight is the kind of team we expect to have day in and day out. I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but that’s the toughness I expect out of our team on a daily basis. I am proud of the way we competed tonight.”
A&M third baseman Dane Carter led off the eighth with a double, and scored when second baseman Blake Stouffer’s hard-hit ground ball was misplayed by Ohio State first baseman Ryan Meade to give the Aggies a 6-5 lead. A stolen base and one out later, catcher Brian Ruggiano tripled off the wall in center to drive in Stouffer, and first baseman Luke Anders’ sacrifice fly to center plated Ruggiano for the game’s final run.
The comeback complemented a masterful pitching performance by A&M junior Kyle Thebeau (1-1), who tossed six shutout innings of relief, scattering five hits and fanning five to pick up the victory. His only walk of the game came on the final batter he faced in the ninth.
“Thebeau came in and gave us a complete stop,” Childress said. “He gave us everything he had and was efficient in doing it.”
The Aggies trailed the Buckeyes 5-1 entering the top of the fifth inning, and OSU began the frame looking to blow the contest open after the first two batters reached on an error and a single, respectively.
After a sacrifice moved both into scoring position, Thebeau struck out designated hitter Michael Arp and got catcher Dan Burkhart to ground weakly to the mound to end the threat.
A&M took the momentum with them to the plate, scoring twice in the bottom half of the inning and twice more in the sixth to tie the game at five.
An RBI triple by Carter and a sacrifice fly by Stouffer plated the two fifth-inning runs. Right fielder Brodie Greene drove in a run with a triple of his own in the sixth to cut the lead to one, and Stouffer drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs to bring home the fifth run for the Aggies.
A&M threatened in the seventh but could not score. Best walked a pair of Aggies with one out, then pinch-hitter Caleb Shofner battled back from an 0-2 count to earn a free pass and load the bases. Rory Meister then relieved Best and escaped the jam, getting a strikeout and an infield grounder to end the inning.
Meister (0-1) would be tagged with the loss after giving up all three runs—one earned—in the eighth. Over 1 2/3 innings of work eh allowed two hits and struck out a batter.
Aggie starter Kirkland Rivers lasted 2 1/3 innings and was charged with all five Buckeye runs. He gave up six hits while walking two and striking out two.
OSU lefty Dan DeLucia went the first 4 1/3, giving up six hits and three runs while walking three and striking out two.
The tournament continues on Saturday with a pair of games. Ohio State will face Louisiana Tech at 12:30 p.m., followed by Texas A&M and Arkansas at 6:30 p.m. The nightcap will be televised live by COX Sports Television. Check local listings for stations and airtimes near you.
In Friday’s early game of the classic, Arkansas first baseman Aaron Murphree hit a one-out, two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Louisiana Tech, 9-8.
POSTGAME NOTES: Kyle Thebeau’s six innings of work marked the longest relief outing of his career…his previous best was 4 1/3 innings of work on May 13, 2007 at Kansas State…Texas A&M tripled three times on the night for the third consecutive game, a school record…before this week, the last time A&M had tripled three times in one game was April 1999…Dane Carter’s fifth-inning triple extended his hit streak to a career-high five games…Kyle Colligan and Blake Stouffer have now hit safely in three straight contests…Luke Anders and Brodie Greene posted their first multi-hit games of the season…Travis Starling picked up his second save of the season and the third of his career…A&M has now scored eight runs in three straight games…Ohio State’s 11 hits is an opponent season high…the Aggies have won three straight against the Buckeyes and now trail in the overall series, 9-7…game-time weather was 75 degrees, cloudy skies and winds blowing out to center field.