COLLEGE STATION, Texas—True freshman Brooks Raley made his first career start a memorable one, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings of shutout baseball to lead No. 21 Texas A&M to a 2-1 win over Rutgers Saturday night before 3,315 fans at Olsen Field.
The victory improved the Aggies’ record to 10-3 and evened the series, while the Scarlet Knights fell to 3-5.
Raley (2-0), who had made four previous relief appearances, faced four batters over the minimum in his outing. He allowed just two Rutgers baserunners into scoring position, stranding both.
“He controlled the tempo of the game tonight,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I was really proud of Brooks’ performance, he competed extremely well. I felt like his command got better as he went along.”
Raley’s start was the longest by an Aggie this season, as he won a pitcher’s duel with Scarlet Knights sophomore Casey Gaynor (1-2). The two combined for 19 strikeouts and eight hits allowed over a combined 14-plus innings of work.
A&M broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. Shortstop Jose Duran led off the inning with a hard single that hopped just in front of Rutgers shortstop Dan Betteridge, over his shoulder and into the outfield. Duran moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a grounder to the right side, then came home on a squeeze bunt by catcher Brian Ruggiano.
The Aggies added another run in the fifth. Left fielder Keith McInnerney shot a one-out single back up the middle and into center field and, one out later, stole second base. Two pitches later, third baseman Dane Carter singled through the right side, scoring McInnerney to make the score 2-0.
The Scarlet Knights would mount their only real threat in the sixth, when with one out and nobody on, right fielder Brett Garlick doubled off the base of the wall in left center. Raley got the next two batters on a groundout and a fly ball to left to end the inning.
A&M sophomore Travis Starling relieved Raley with two outs and a runner at first in the eighth, and enticed a weak grounder in front of the plate for the final out. Starling then allowed a lead triple to start the ninth off the bat of pinch-hitter Jarred Jimenez, after a tailing line drive fell scooted just under a diving Brodie Greene in center field. The next three batters, however, were retired in order, as a strikeout and two infield grounders—the first driving Jimenez home with the lone Rutgers run—sealed the Aggie victory.
Starling picked up his fourth save of the season in the 1 1/3 innings of work.
Gaynor’s outing lasted seven innings, and he allowed five hits and the two runs while walking one and fanning nine.
“I thought this was probably our most complete game of the year, and it came against a very good Rutgers team,” Childress said. “Defensively, we made a lot of great decisions, and offensively we had to manufacture both of the runs as well. We are going to play a lot of these types of games in conference.”
The series concludes with the rubber match on Sunday at noon, and tickets are available at the gate or online at aggieathletics.com. Fans are reminded that Daylight Savings Time takes effect at 2 a.m. Sunday.
The new “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ticket promotion is in effect for the game, 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. Following Sunday’s contest, all kids in attendance will be able to run the bases. The game will be broadcast locally on WTAW-AM 1620.
POSTGAME NOTES: Brooks Raley’s 10-strikeout performance was the most by an Aggie pitcher this season…His 7 2/3 innings of work was also the longest start by Texas A&M pitching in ’08…Dane Carter’s fifth-inning RBI single extended his career-best hit streak to 11 games…With two hits on the night, Carter has now posted multi-hit contests in eight of the Aggies’ 13 games…Travis Starling’s save was the sixth of his career and fourth already in 2008…Texas A&M pitching has fanned 10-plus batters in four games this year…The Aggies went without a double on Saturday, snapping a streak of 18 straight games with a two-bagger dating back to last year…Brodie Greene (seven games) and Luke Anders (five games) both saw hit streaks come to an end on Saturday…Rutgers starter Casey Gaynor was an 11-year-old on the 1998 Toms River, N.J. team that captured the Little League World Series title in Williamsport, Pa….Game-time weather was 57 degrees and clear skies with a light breeze.