SAN ANTONIO—Brian Ruggiano’s two-out, two-strike single in the top of the ninth inning drove home the game-winning run as 20th-ranked Texas A&M rallied for a gutty 5-4, come-from-behind victory over UTSA Tuesday night before 1,011 fans at Wolff Stadium.
The Aggies (18-6), who had trailed 3-0 after four, scored two in the fifth and took the lead with a two-run seventh before the Roadrunners (15-9) tied it in the eighth.
First baseman Darby Brown led off the final inning with an 0-2 single to left. Two outs later, Brown stole second, but tweaked a muscle and had to be lifted for pinch-runner Ben Feltner. Ruggiano then followed with a full-count base hit to left to plate Feltner with the eventual winning run.
“This is the biggest win for us by far to this point in the year,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “We didn’t get off to a very good start, but the bottom line is we got big hits when we needed them and we didn’t crack late in the game. Tonight was all about toughness. I’m very proud of our team, as proud as I’ve been all year. There’s going to be bigger wins as we go along but this was a big one against a great UTSA team.”
UTSA opened up the scoring with a three-run third off A&M starter Scott Migl.
With shortstop James Keithley at third and one out, Roadrunner center fielder Michael Rockett chopped an RBI double over Aggie third baseman Dane Carter and down the left field line for the game’s first run. After a fly ball advanced Rockett to third and a walk put runners at the corners, consecutive RBI singles by catcher Tyler Carpenter and third baseman Ryan Rummel made the score 3-0.
Back-to-back hit batsmen to start the top of the fourth fueled a two-run rally by Texas A&M.
With the two men on, Carter’s deep fly ball to right moved Kyle Colligan to third. Shortstop Jose Duran then drove the next pitch hard on the ground through the right side to plate the Aggie center fielder and cut into the Roadrunner lead. Two pitches later, Darby Brown doubled inside the first-base bag and down the line to bring home catcher Kevin Gonzalez and chase UTSA starter Kris Ruepke.
Roadrunner junior J.P. Holton entered in relief and, with two in scoring position, got Nick Fleece to pop out behind the bag at third and Luke Anders to ground back to the mound to end the threat.
Junior reliever Kyle Thebeau entered to start the fourth was outstanding in relief, allowing only an eighth-inning hit in 4 1/3 innings. He was charged with the eighth-inning run and allowed one walk while striking out five.
“Kyle Thebeau is the reason we won the game,” Childress said. “He came in and put a stop to things. This was the first time in his career that he came in and wasn’t sharp but was able to get it together and have an incredible outing.”
Texas A&M cashed in a pair of two-out runs in the top of the seventh to take its first lead of the night.
Duran drew a one-out walk and, after a pitching change, moved to second on a balk. After a strikeout, freshman right fielder Nick Fleece quickly fell behind 0-2, but punched the next offering from Mark Ruffin into center to plate Duran and tie the game.
After a Luke Anders single put runners at first and second, left fielder Brian Ruggiano chopped a 1-2 pitch to the left side of the infield. Rummel charged from third, scooped the ball and threw wide of the bag at first and into the A&M bullpen. Ruggiano was credited with a base hit, but the error brought Fleece home to give the Aggies a 4-3 lead.
College Station native and Roadrunner designated hitter Tim Palinscar snapped a string of 10 straight hitters retired by Thebeau with a single leading off the bottom of the eighth. He then moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.
The Aggies went to Travis Starling out of the pen, who got the second out of the frame on a ground ball to first. The next batter, UTSA left fielder Jose Hernandez, tied the game at four with an RBI single to right.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Roadrunners were able to place the tying run on base courtesy a one-out walk, but Starling (2-0) retired the next two batters in order to pick up his second win of the year.
Migl lasted three innings and allowed six hits, three runs (all earned) and two walks while fanning one.
UTSA reliever Zach Calhoon (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out two batters.
Texas A&M wraps up its season-long seven-game road trip with a weekend series against Kansas at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence. First pitch on Friday is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast locally on WTAW-AM 1620.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Texas A&M has won 20 consecutive mid-week games dating back nearly two seasons…the Aggies’ last loss in a mid-week game came to No. 19 Houston (9-6) on April 18, 2006.
• Dane Carter went 1-for-4, recording a hit for the 22nd time in A&M’s 24 games…Carter has reached safely (hit or walk) in all 24 contests in ’08…he also hit leadoff on Tuesday night for the first time this season and the sixth of his career.
• Jose Duran’s fifth-inning single extended his hit streak to a season-high eight games…Duran has now hit safely in 13 of the last 14 games and 19 of 24 overall.
• Darby Brown’s fifth-inning double extended his hit streak to eight games, tying a career best…Brown hit safely in eight straight from March 16-30, 2007.
• Brian Ruggiano tied a career high with three hits on the night…Ruggiano’s game-winning hit was his second of the season and of his career.
• Luke Anders and Brian Ruggiano each posted their seventh multi-hit game of the year…Darby Brown tallied his fifth multi-hit effort of the season.
• Texas A&M posted double-figure hits for the 14th time this season.
• A&M now leads the series 17-8, and improves to 3-5 vs UTSA at Wolff Stadium.
• The Aggies and Roadrunners met for the 16th straight season…the only time the two schools did not play was in 1992, UTSA’s inaugural year of baseball.
• Gametime temperature was 78 degrees with partly cloudy skies and SE winds blowing in from right field at 15 miles per hour.