COLLEGE STATION, Texas—Junior Luke Anders tied career highs with four hits and five RBI to help lead the 21st–ranked Texas A&M baseball team to a 12-3 win over Rutgers Sunday afternoon before 2,942 fans at Olsen Field.
The victory gave the Aggies the series victory and pushed their record to 11-3 on the year. The Scarlet Knights fell to 3-6.
“It was obviously important that we bounced back and won this series, especially against a very good Rutgers team,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “We told the team before the game that Sundays are ‘championship Sundays’—whether you are going for the sweep, trying to win the series or trying to keep from getting swept. Sundays are extremely important in conference, and I was proud of how we came out ready to go today.”
Anders, who doubled off the top of the wall and homered on the day, was part of a potent middle of the lineup for Texas A&M in the No. 5 spot. Cleanup hitter Jose Duran also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and three RBI, while two-hole hitter Dane Carter had three hits to extend his hit streak to 12 games.
“That’s (Luke’s) job, to get big hits with runners on base,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “He definitely did his job today and I’m proud of him. And then Dane and Jose just keep staying hot, even when they get down in the count and a guy makes a good pitch, they still find a way to put the good part of the bat on the ball.”
Texas A&M scored four times in the first off Rutgers starter Matt Giannini. Shortstop Jose Duran drove in left fielder Brooks Raley with a sacrifice fly, and the next batter—first baseman Luke Anders—followed with a three-run home run to right. The junior’s second home run of the week, and the year, put the Aggies up 4-0.
After the Scarlet Knights had scored single runs in the second and third innings to cut the lead in half, Duran led off the bottom of the third with a triple to right center. Anders then singled him home to make the score 5-2. Following a Brian Ruggiano double, a Darby Brown groundout and Brodie Greene suicide squeeze drove in Anders and Ruggiano, respectively, to push the lead to five.
Rutgers countered in the fourth with a one-out RBI single by right fielder Brett Garlick off Aggie reliever Kirkland Rivers, pulling the defending Big East champs to within four at 7-3—but it would be the final run of the afternoon for the Scarlet Knights.
Raley opened the bottom of the frame with a walk, then scored on a one-out double by Duran. Once again, Anders brought the A&M shortstop home, this time with a single through the right side of the infield that made the score 9-3.
Sophomore transfer Carson Middleton (3-0) entered in the fifth and shut down the Rutgers offensive attack, allowing three hits and no runs over the game’s final 4 2/3 innings to pick up the victory.
The Aggies added an insurance run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Brown and two more in the eighth.
Sophomore Scott Migl lasted three innings in his third start of the year, allowing three hits and three runs while striking out six. Rivers, in his first relief outing of the season, lasted 1 1/3 and issued three hits but did not allow a run.
Giannini (0-3) suffered the loss for Rutgers, going 3 2/3 and allowing nine hits, nine runs and three walks.
The Aggies wrapped the week at 4-1 and have now won 10 of their last 11 games.
“It was a good week,” Childress said. “It wasn’t a great week, but it was definitely a good week for us. We pitched well all week long with the exception of two innings, and it was good to see how we responded from those. But we have to put this week behind us because now our focus is on Centenary. They are off to a really good start, and Coach Ed McCann does a really good job. We’ll have our hands full Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Texas A&M continues its season-opening homestand on Tuesday when the Aggies welcome Centenary (9-2) to Olsen Field for a mid-week series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The series will conclude on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Both games will air locally on WTAW-AM 1620.
Fans are encouraged to bring new and used baseball equipment to the games this week, as the Diamond Darlings will be collecting the gear to benefit the Bryan Little League. In exchange for a donation, fans will receive a voucher for a discounted ticket to selected upcoming Texas A&M home games.
In addition, the new “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ticket promotion is in effect for both games, 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 extended his hit streak to 12 games with a first-inning single to right…With three hits on the day, Carter has now had two or more hits in nine of A&M’s 14 games…Luke Anders matched career highs in hits (four) and RBI (five)…Anders set his career RBI mark on Wednesday in a win over Nicholls…The last time he had four hits in a game was on March 10, 2007 against Florida…Jose Duran is now on a season-best four-game hit streak and has driven in six in the last three games…Brooks Raley started his first game of the season in left field, and has now started a game at all three outfield positions, as well as pitcher…Junior Phil Carey, who transferred to A&M from Winthrop, saw his first plate appearance of the season…Game-time weather was 69 degrees with clear skies and winds blowing out to left center at 10 miles per hour.