ATHENS, Georgia -- The Texas A&M Aggies dropped the series opener to the Georgia Bulldogs, 3-2, on Friday evening at Foley Field.
Georgia (15-11-1, 2-4-1 SEC) claimed the victory in walk-off fashion. With the game knotted 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Stephen Wrenn sent a shot up the middle. A&M reliever Parker Ray knocked the ball down and scurried to corral it. His throw to first base, which would have retired Wrenn by two steps, sailed wide allowing the freshman to reach on what was scored a single. Wrenn continued on to third base on the throwing error. A&M issued intentional walks to the next two hitters and brought in Nick Choruby as a fifth infielder with bases loaded.
The Bulldogs’ Jared Walsh sent a hard-hit grounder to Cole Lankford and the first baseman went home on the fielder’s choice, but his throw was not in time and wide, allowing Wrenn to score the end-game.
Trailing 2-0, A&M knotted the game in the top of the third inning. With one out, Jace Statum slapped a single to rightfield and Patrick McLendon followed with a gapper to right-center for single. With two outs, Lankford laced a single through the left side of the infield to plate Statum for the Aggies’ first run. Mitchell Nau followed with a double down the leftfield line to send McLendon home with the equalizer, tying the game at 2-2. With two runners in scoring position, Jonathan Moroney was unable to provide the go-ahead run as he struck out swinging for the final out of the inning.
The Bulldogs pounced on A&M starter Daniel Mengden for two runs in the bottom of the first. Leadoff man Walsh was hit by a pitch and after Hunter Cole struck out swinging, Mengden got ahead 0-2 on Conor Welton before issuing an eight-pitch walk. Nelson Ward bounced a single through the right side of the infield, pushing Walsh across for the 1-0 lead. Mengden got ahead of Daniel Nichols 0-2 before hitting him with the fourth pitch to load the bases. Wrenn drew a four-pitch walk, driving in Welton and staking Georgia to a 2-0 lead. Before the Bulldogs could inflict further damage, Mengden recorded his third strikeout of the frame, fanning Heath Holder.
Georgia nearly took the lead in the eighth, but Ray worked out of a jam to push the game to the ninth tied. After Mengden retired the first batter of the frame, he issued a walk to Cole. AJ Minter came in to spell Mengden and allowed a single up the middle by Welton and issued a walk to Ward to load the bases with one out. Ray got Brandon Stephens to line out to third base and punched out Jess Posey swinging to get out of the dilemma.
Texas A&M (17-10, 3-4 SEC) was doomed by the inability to capitalize on leadoff hits. The Maroon and White led off four innings with singles, stranding the runner all four times, including the first, second, fourth and fifth innings.
A&M pounded out eight hits for the contest, but went hitless in the last four innings. McLendon and Nau each had two hits to lead the Aggie arsenal. Nau provided the game’s only extra-base hit, a third-inning double.
Wrenn was the only Georgia player with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI.
After sputtering in the first inning, Mengden bounced back with a strong effort, yielding two runs on three hits, three walks and two hit batsmen while striking out 10 in 7.1 innings of work in the no-decision. Ray (2-2) was saddled with the loss, allowing one run on one hit and two intentional walks while striking out one in 0.2 innings.
Georgia starter Ryan Lawlor allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out eight in 7.0 innings. Jared Cheek (4-2) picked up the win in relief, retiring all six batters he faced, including one strikeout.
The Aggies and Bulldogs return to action at Foley Field for game two of the series on Saturday with first pitch slated for 12 pm.