COLLEGE STATION -- Darby Brown hit a first-inning grand slam and Brooks Raley allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings on Friday night as No. 16 Texas A&M defeated Kansas State, 7-2, before 3,579 fans at Olsen Field.
The win was the Aggies’ seventh in a row as they improved to 24-6 and 7-3 in Big 12 play. The Wildcats saw a three-game win streak snapped as they fell to 15-13 and 2-5.
“We were very efficient with our offense tonight,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “It seemed like when we got runners on, we were able to get them in. We were able to score early once again and relax a little bit. Darby got the big hit but, there were some great at bats before that against a guy that can flat out pitch.”
A&M would score in the first inning for the sixth straight game, getting four runs with one swing of Brown’s bat.
Kyle Colligan was hit by a pitch to lead off the game and back-to-back singles by Blake Stouffer and Dane Carter loaded the bases. One out later, Brown took the first pitch from KSU starter Brad Hutt for a ball before driving the next one over the fence in right center to give the Aggies a quick 4-0 lead.
It was Brown’s second grand slam of the season and of his career—coming in back-to-back Big 12 contests. He hit his first this past Sunday at Kansas.
Texas A&M nearly doubled its lead with single runs in each of the middle innings.
Brian Ruggiano hit a solo home run, his third of the year, in the fourth that curled just inside the foul pole.
A Dane Carter sacrifice fly in the fifth and a solo home run by Luke Anders in the sixth extended the lead to 7-0.
“Offensively, we’ve been feeling good about ourselves for a while now,” Childress said. “Guys feel confident, and they’re walking to the plate with their shoulders pinned back and being aggressive. It’s fun to let those guys go.”
Meanwhile, Raley kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard through the first six, allowing some traffic but stranding four runners in scoring position.
K-State catcher Rob Vaughn finally got his team on the board in the seventh with a leadoff home run off the top of the fence in left center.
The Wildcats would add a ninth-inning run off Aggie reliever Kyle Thebeau on a Byron Wiley sacrifice fly to close out the scoring.
Brown led the A&M attack with the four RBI, while Carter posted his team-best 17th multi-hit outing with a 2-for-3 night.
Adam Muenster (2-for-4) was the only K-State player to tally multiple hits.
Raley won his fourth straight Big 12 start as he improved to 5-0 on the year. The true freshman walked two and fanned four.
Thebeau allowed the one run and one hit over 2 2/3 innings of relief, walking a pair and striking out three.
Hutt (3-3) lasted 5 2/3 and allowed six hits and a season-high seven runs, all earned. He walked one and struck out three.
The series continues on Saturday with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. A&M will send freshman Barret Loux (1-1, 4.78 ERA) to the hill to face KSU junior Justin Murray (2-0, 1.62). The game will air locally on WTAW-AM 1620.
In addition, members of the 1998 Big 12 championship team will be on hand to sign autographs at the “Party at the Park”. Gates open at 5 p.m.
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• At 7-3, Texas A&M matched its best-ever start in Big 12 play…the 1999 team, which won the program’s second Big 12 title, also began conference play at 7-3…A&M’s four-game win streak in league action is its best since 2003.
• Darby Brown hit his second grand slam of the season, and of his career, in the first inning…he became the first Aggie in at least eight years to hit two grand slams in a season…Brown has now homered in three of the last four contests and extended his hit streak to a career-best 14 games.
• The Aggies hit three home runs in a game for the third time this season (Louisiana Tech, March 2; Nicholls State, March 5).
• Kyle Colligan has reached safely in his first at bat and come around to score in each of the last six games…Colligan was hit by a pitch tonight after singling to lead off each of the previous five contests.
• Kyle Colligan also moved his season-high hit streak to seven games with a fifth-inning double.
• Texas A&M scored four first-inning runs…it was the sixth straight game the Aggies have scored in the first frame.
• Dane Carter’s first-inning single extended his hit streak to 11 games…Carter, who had a 16-game streak earlier this season, has hit safely in 28 of A&M’s 30 games in 2008…he has reached safely (hit or walk) in all 30 contests.
• Blake Stouffer extended his season-best streak to six games with a first-inning single…defensively, Stouffer’s second-inning miscue snapped a string of 68 consecutive chances without an error…the senior, who made the move to second in the fall, has committed only four errors on the season and just two since March 1.
• Texas A&M leads the all-time series with K-State, 31-8-1, and 27-7-1 since the formation of the Big 12 in 1997.
• Game-time temperature was 60 degrees with partly cloudy skies and winds blowing in from left center at 16 miles per hour.