STILLWATER, OK -- A ninth-inning rally by Texas A&M fell just short on Saturday as the 17th-ranked Aggies fell to Oklahoma State, 3-2, before 1,135 fans at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Singles by Darby Brown, Luke Anders and Brian Ruggiano loaded the bases for A&M in the top of the ninth, but OSU closer Jordy Mercer got pinch hitter Brooks Raley on a called third strike and then a ground ball to third off the bat of Kyle Colligan to end the game and the Aggie threat.
With the loss, Texas A&M fell to 17-5 and 3-2 in Big 12 play, while the Cowboys evened the series and improved to 14-6 and 2-3.
“That was a tough one to lose,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “We had our opportunities to score, not just there in the ninth inning, but earlier in the game as well. We just didn’t get that big hit. We hit a lot of balls hard right at people. We have to shake this one off and be able to come out tomorrow and give ourselves an opportunity to win the series.”
The Aggies also threatened but could not score in the eighth. Blake Stouffer reached on a throwing error with one out, and Dane Carter followed with a single through the right side. OSU then lifted starter Tyler Lyons in favor of its shortstop, Mercer, in relief.
A&M attempted a double steal on a 1-0 pitch to shortstop Jose Duran, but Stouffer was called out at third on the front end of the try for the second out. Mercer then struck out Duran, stranding Carter at second and ending the threat.
Well before the late-game action, it would be Texas A&M which would again open the scoring—this time with a pair of runs off OSU starter Tyler Lyons in the second.
With one out and nobody on, Anders fisted a single into shallow left. Two pitches later, Ruggiano hit his second home run of the year to give the Aggies an early 2-0 lead.
OSU first baseman Rebel Ridling answered in the bottom of the frame, as his groundout to short would drive in Matt Hague from third with the Cowboys’ first run of the afternoon.
Oklahoma State then took their first lead of the weekend with a pair of runs in the fourth off A&M starter Barret Loux.
With a runner at first and one out, Hague punched a 2-1 pitch through the right side but, with the Aggie outfield shifted towards left, Hague legged out a double and center fielder Donnie Webb beat the throw home to tie the game.
After a groundout moved Hague to third, Ridling singled to right in what would end up being the game-winning hit.
After allowing six baserunners in the first 1 2/3 innings, Lyons (3-2) retired 14 consecutive Aggie batters until a seventh-inning single by Ruggiano.
The Cowboys threatened to add to their lead in the sixth. With one out, Webb was hit by a pitch and the next batter, Hague, worked the count full. With the runner in motion, Hague ripped a grounder inside the bag at third, but Carter made a diving stop and threw Hague out at first, potentially saving a run. Loux would strike out Ridling one batter later to escape the inning.
A two-out OSU rally in the eighth loaded the bases, but A&M reliever Kyle Thebeau struck out Ridling on a full-count pitch to hold the score at 3-2.
Loux (1-1) suffered his first loss of the season, falling one strike shy of a complete game. The freshman lasted 7 2/3 innings and gave up five hits, three runs (all earned) and three walks while striking out six.
Lyons got the win for the Cowboys, going 7 1/3 and allowing six hits, two runs and two walks while fanning seven. Mercer picked up his fourth save of the year, giving up three hits in 1 2/3 of relief but not allowing a run.
The series concludes on Easter Sunday with first pitch at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally on WTAW-AM 1620. Sophomore Clayton Ehlert (2-1, 1.72 ERA) will get the start for Texas A&M, while Oklahoma State will send senior right-hander Tyler Blandford (2-1, 7.00) to the hill.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Saturday’s one-run win for Oklahoma State marked the eighth time in the last nine meetings between the schools, and 15 of the last 18 overall, in which the game was decided by two or fewer runs.
• Jose Duran’s first-inning single extended his hit streak to six games, matching his season high.
• Darby Brown extended his season-high hit streak to six games with a ninth-inning single.
• Dane Carter has now reached base safely in every game this season (22) after a first-inning walk…with a ninth-inning single, Carter has hit safely in 20 of the Aggies’ 22 games.
• Brian Ruggiano’s second-inning home run was his second of the year and third of his career.
• Texas A&M has now homered in four straight games for the first time this season…Ruggiano’s long ball was the Aggies’ 20th of the year and came in game No. 22…last season, A&M hit its 20th home run in game No. 27.
• OSU now leads the overall series, 32-22, and 22-17 since the formation of the Big 12.
• The Aggies wore grey uniforms for the first time in 2008.
• Game-time weather was 60 degrees with clear skies, with winds blowing in from right center at 5-10 miles per hour.
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