COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 30 Texas A&M Baseball squad posted a 9-5 win over Northwestern State in a Tuesday evening non-conference tilt on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies vanquished the Demons behind a 12-hit performance on offense. Mitchell Nau led the hit parade going 2-for-3 with one double and three RBI. Blake Allemand, Krey Bratsen and Daniel Mengden each notched two hits. Mikey Reynolds tallied three RBI, including knocking in the first two runs of the game.
A&M pounced on the Demons early with three runs in the home half of the second. Logan Taylor reached on an infield single to shortstop and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Curl. Allemand was hit by a pitch and JB Moss was issued a base on balls to load the bases. Reynolds bounced a Baltimore chop over the head of a leaping NSU third baseman for a two-run single. Bratsen was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and, after Mengden was retired on strikes for the second out of the inning, Nau hit a ball deep in the hole on the left side of the infield for an RBI single, staking A&M to a 3-0 lead.
Northwestern State (5-3) shaved a run off the lead in the top of the third. Will Watson led off the inning with a single to centerfield and the ball scooted past Bratsen and went to the wall for a two-base error, putting Watson on third. Nick Purdy followed with a fly ball to centerfield, plating Watson on the sacrifice fly and cutting the lead to 3-1.
Texas A&M created separation with five runs in the bottom of the third. Taylor drew a walk and stole second base and Curl was hit by a pitch to chase NSU starter Zach Krebs from the game. With Steven Spann on in relief, Allemand reached on a bunt single to saturate the bases with Aggies. Reynolds sent a fly ball to rightfield to drive in Taylor. Curl and Allemand pulled off the double steal to put both runners in scoring position. Bratsen legged out a single on a grounder to short, knocking in Curl. Bratsen stole second and Mengden continued the cavalcade of runs with a single up the middle to drive in two for the 7-1 lead. Nau capped off the scoring with a ground-rule double over the fence in left centerfield, pushing Mengden across.
Northwestern State trimmed the lead to 8-2 in the top of the seventh. Nathan Lyons singled up the middle and Cort Brinson was hit by a pitch to start the inning. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position and Toby Cornejo bounced a grounder to short to score Lyons. After Garrett Killgore walked to put runners on the corners, AJ Minter came in to relieve A&M starter Corey Ray and struck out two batters to end the frame.
The Demons conjured up more trouble in the eighth inning. With Gandy Stubblefield on in relief, Matt Baca drew a walk, Edwin Gomez was hit by a pitch and Todd Wallace singled through the left side to load the bases. After Zach Brashear came out of the bullpen to replace Stubblefield, Lyons singled to rightfield to drive in Zack Costa, who was pinch-running for Baca, and Gomez. Brinson cut the lead to 8-5 with a single through the left side, but Lyons was thrown out at third for the first out of the inning. Brashear retired the next two batters with a groundout and lineout to quell the rally.
Texas A&M tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Bratsen led off the frame with a bunt single, stole second base and moved to third on a balk. With one out, Nau drove a fly ball to centerfield for the sac fly and the 9-5 lead.
Aggie closer Jason Jester allowed a double to the wall by Watson and issued a walk to Purdy to start the ninth, but a fly out and two strikeouts ended the contest.
Ray (2-0) earned the win for the Aggies, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits, three walks and two hit batsmen while striking out four over 6.1 innings.
Krebs (1-2) was saddled with the loss, pitching 2.0 innings plus two batters in the third frame. He yielded five runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out one.
Watson led all batters with three hits, going 3-for-5 with one run and two doubles. Lyons went 2-for-3 with one run and two RBI. Brinson was 2-for-3 with one RBI.
The Aggies and Demons return to action on Wednesday for a matinee at Blue Bell Park. First pitch is slated for 3:05 pm.
Head Coach Rob Childress
On the offense: They rose to the challenge. We were able to get the lead early. We had a lot of hitters step up and show a lot of courage with some big two-out base hits. I think we scored four of our five runs in the third inning with two outs. I was proud of Corey. He got it together and had a good start. AJ Minter came in and blew two really good hitters away. (Zach) Brashear came in and settled thing downs a little bit. Jester came in and shut things down in the ninth.
Sophomore starting pitcher Corey Ray
On his performance: I felt good out there. I struggled a little bit at times, but the defense came up big behind me and made the plays. I’m glad we were able to get this win today and get that bad taste out of our mouth from last weekend.
Sophomore catcher Mitchell Nau
On his offensive approach: I’ve been working in the cage for two weeks. I haven’t seen the field that much yet so I’ve been grinding on some stuff. Coach had a good approach for us when runners are on base and we just went out and executed as a whole, the game plan we had tonight.
On seeing what the offense is capable of: It helps us a lot to know that it’s there. We haven’t really put on the performance that we can. A couple guys came up big for us tonight. Guys got their confidence up and it’s going to help us as a group.