COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 30 Texas A&M Aggies used seven pitchers to register a 2-1 win over the Northwestern State Demons in non-conference baseball action Wednesday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Freshman Grayson Long went 4.2 innings in his second career start, allowing one run on five hits and one walk while walking two.
The bullpen combined for 4.1 scoreless innings with Jason Freeman (1-0) earning the win behind 1.1 innings of one-hit work, including two strikeouts. Jason Jester earned his third save of the season, allowing one hit in 1.1 innings.
Texas A&M (7-3) drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth inning. With Northwestern State’s outfield playing shallow due to a stiff breeze blowing in from left centerfield, Troy Stein was able to drive a ball past the leftfielder for a leadoff triple. Blake Allemand hit a sharp grounder to shortstop, scoring Stein, and Allemand reached first when the throw went wide of the bag. Allemand stole second and moved to third on a fly out, but A&M was unable to add to the lead.
Northwestern State (5-4) responded with an equalizer in the top of the fifth. With one out Toby Cornejo reached on a bunt single and moved to second on a groundout by Garrett Kilgore. Long hit Will Watson with a pitch to put a pair on and Matt Kent came in to relieve Long on the mound. Nick Purdy bounced a ball just past the glove of a diving Charlie Curl at second base for the RBI single, tying the score at 1-1. With two men still on base, Freeman closed out the inning by getting Matt Baca to ground out to second base.
The Aggies reclaimed the lead in the home half of the fifth. With AJ Funk on in relief of NSU starter Cody Butler, Mikey Reynolds led off with a single to the gap in right centerfield. A passed ball and a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen moved Reynolds to third with one out and Daniel Mengden pushed him across for the go-ahead run with a squeeze bunt down the first base line.
Both teams left plenty of ducks on the pond with A&M stranding 12 base runners and NSU leaving 11 men on base.
Butler allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four over 4.0 innings in the start. Funk (0-1) was strapped with the loss, allowing one run on three hits and one walk while fanning one over 1.0 innings. Andrew Adams worked 2.0 shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two.
Reynolds and Stein each logged two hits and scored one run apiece. Reynolds, Bratsen and Mengden each extended lengthy hit streaks. Reynolds and Bratsen’s strings reached nine games and Mengden’s stands at eight.
Cornejo, Watson and Todd Wallace had two hits each for the Demons.
Texas A&M returns to action on Friday as the Aggies travel to Minute Maid Park in Houston for the 2013 Astros Foundation College Classic. The Maroon and White play the Houston Cougars at 7 pm on Friday night, the No. 12 Rice Owls at 7 pm on Saturday night and the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels at 2 pm on Sunday afternoon.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: They found a way to win and that’s the biggest thing. The bottom line is results and we found a way to win and play our best. I thought Grayson (Long) gave us a good start. He found a way and fought through it and made some big pitches but I felt that after we didn’t score in the first and second innings, it was going to be a tight game. I sure would have liked to have gotten him through the fifth but it didn’t happen. I went to the bullpen and we didn’t get the first hitter we faced. They tied it up and we came right back and manufactured a run with a lead-off single, a wild pitch to second and a bunt to third to squeeze him home. It made them stand up. There were some heads-up plays. We got a big out there and in the seventh inning, Krey (Bratsen) made a huge play on a single. It would have been easy for him to just chase after the ball with his head down but he hustled to it and got us a big out at second base. We did a lot of little things right for all the things we didn’t do from an offensive standpoint, as far as driving people home. We got the win and we made a lot of intelligent baseball plays.
On Troy Stein’s triple: It got us going. Allemand put the ball in play and we were able to get that first run across the board. They came right back and scored but for us, it was the baseball plays that allowed us to win that game.
Junior Catcher Troy Stein
On hitting a triple: We did a great job all night of fighting off tough pitches and hitting them when we got good ones to hit but with the wind blowing in, the flat ball pays off. I got lucky and it paid off for me and I think we had a couple of other good struck balls that paid off for everybody else, too.