OKLAHOMA CITY – Kirkland Rivers turned in his longest and best outing of the year and Craig Stinson belted a third-inning grand slam on Thursday to lead No. 11 Texas A&M past No. 5 Texas, 7-3, in second-day action of the Big 12 Tournament at Bricktown Ballpark.
Rivers (2-3), making just his second start of the year, dazzled the Longhorns for 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. His previous long outing was two innings. He struck out three and walked five.
“I was not surprised that Kirkland got us out to a good start and he was able to maintain it,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “Every time you get to the postseason, someone steps into a role that maybe they have not filled all season. Today it was Kirkland because he got us into the seventh inning and was sharp on the mound.”
All-Big 12 pitcher Kyle Nicholson retired all seven hitters he faced after replacing Rivers to nail down the win.
With the win, Texas A&M improved to 42-16 overall and to 1-1 in the Big 12 Tournament, while Texas dropped to 43-15 and 1-1. The Aggies need to beat K-State Saturday at 10:00 a.m., coupled with Nebraska losses on Thursday night to K-State and on Saturday afternoon to Texas to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
The Aggies took the early lead in the bottom of the first with an unearned run off Texas starting pitcher James Russell. Dane Carter drew a lead-off walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ben Feltner. After stealing third with two outs, Carter scored when Texas second baseman Travis Tucker misplayed a slow chopper off the bat of Blake Stouffer.
Texas took the lead in the top of the third with a pair of runs. Nick Peoples singled to start the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tucker and scored on a single by Jordan Danks. With two outs, Danks stole second and scored on a shot to first by Chance Wheeless that caromed off Stouffer and into foul territory.
A&M responded in the bottom of the inning by scoring five runs to take a 6-2 lead. Three-straight singles by Brian Ruggiano, Brodie Greene and Carter loaded the bases with no outs. With one out, Brandon Hicks was hit by a pitch to tie the game at two. After Stouffer fouled out to third, Stinson belted a grand slam over the wall in left to earn the lead for A&M. It was his 11th homer of the year.
Stouffer hit his ninth home run of the year, a shot off the foul pole in left, in the bottom of the fifth to stretch the A&M lead to 7-2.
Texas cut the lead to 7-3 in the top of the seventh with three-straight singles by Kyle Russell, Wheeless and Bradley Suttle. After the Suttle single, Nicholson replaced Rivers on the mound.
James Russell (8-4) allowed seven runs on seven hits in six-complete innings on the mound.
TEX – 002 000 100 – 3 7 1
A&M – 105 010 00x – 7 8 0
TEX: Russell, Shinaberry (7), McCrory (8) and Clark; A&M: Rivers, Nicholson (7) and C. Stinson.
E – TEX: Tucker (8)
SB – TEX: Danks (17), Wheeless (6); A&M: Colligan (13)
2B – TEX: Danks (16)
HR – A&M: C. Stinson (11), Stouffer (9)
Win – Rivers (2-3) Loss – Russell (8-4) Save – none
T – 2:46
A – 5,202