A&M Tops Rice, 8-3

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 30 Texas A&M Aggies built an early six-run lead with three-run frames in both the first and second innings and coasted to an 8-3 win over the No. 12 Rice Owls in day two of action at the 2013 Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park on Saturday evening.

Aggies sophomore Daniel Mengden (3-0) benefitted from the early run support and cruised to the victory on the mound. He allowed three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out eight over 8.0 innings.

Texas A&M (8-4) turned the Owls from predator to prey with a three-run bottom of the first inning. Mikey Reynolds reached on an infield single to third base to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen. After Mengden struck out looking, Jonathan Moroney reached on an infield single to third to put runners on the corners. After Troy Stein drew a walk to load the bases, Blake Allemand unloaded them with a three-run double down the leftfield line, staking A&M to a 3-0 lead.

The Aggies cultivated three more runs in the home half of the second. Logan Taylor reached on a leadoff single to third and moved to second when Shane Hoelscher’s late throw went errant. Jace Statum laid down a sacrifice bunt towards third base and once again Hoelscher’s throw was off line, allowing Taylor to score and moving Statum to second. After Reynolds singled to put runners and the corners, Bratsen drove a single over the glove of a leaping Christian Stringer at second base to knock Statum home. Mengden sacrificed Bratsen and Reynolds both into scoring position with a bunt and Moroney sent a sacrifice fly to rightfield to score Reynolds for the 6-0 advantage.

After cruising through the Rice lineup the first time through the order, Mengden met resistance the second time through. Defensive replacement Connor Teykl was hit by a pitch and Stringer was issued a base on balls to lead off the inning. Michael Aquino cut the lead in half, 6-3, depositing a first-pitch offering into the Crawford Boxes for a three-run home run.

After giving up a single to Keenan Cook following the Aquino dinger, Mengden would get back in a groove and retire 14 of the next 15 batters he faced.

The Aggies extended the lead back out to five runs with a pair in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Cole Lankford singled off the pitchers’ mitt and moved to second on a groundout by Taylor. With Kevin McCanna entering the game to spell Owls’ starter Jordan Stephens on the mound, Statum laced a single through the right side of the infield to knock in Lankford. Statum moved to second on a balk and scored on a single through the left side of the infield by Reynolds, to inflate the A&M cushion to 8-3.

Reynolds led the Aggies at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. Moroney went 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI. Lankford added a pair of hits and one run and Allemand had three RBI on one double.

Aquino had two of Rice’s four hits, going 2-for-4 with one home run and three RBI.

Jason Jester closed out the game by retiring all three batters he faced in the ninth inning.

Jordan Stephens (1-2) was strapped with the loss for Rice. He allowed seven runs, five earned, on seven hits and two walks while striking out six over 5.2 innings.

Texas A&M completes action at the Astros Foundation College Classic on Sunday when they play the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels at 2 pm.

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