COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies registered a 4-1 win over the Missouri Tigers Sunday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park to complete their second SEC series sweep of the season.
Rafael Pineda (5-4) picked up his second win of the week, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks while striking out three over 5.2 innings. Matt Kent worked 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit while striking out one. Jason Jester earned his 12th save of the season with a scoreless ninth. He is now just one save shy of the A&M’s single-season record.
The Tigers drew first blood in the top of the first. Logan Pearson drew a six-pitch walk to start the game and a throwing error by Aggie third baseman Hunter Melton on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Dillon Everett put runners on the corners. Pineda struck out Keaton Steele for the second out of the inning, but Dylan Kelly broke the scoring seal with a single to centerfield to knock in Pearson for the 1-0 lead.
After its fruitful first inning, Missouri didn’t love company on the base paths over the next seven innings, managing just four base runners. The offensive stall by the Tigers allowed the Aggies to take the lead in the middle innings.
Texas A&M (26-22, 10-13 SEC) knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Troy Stein took advantage of a Missouri infield that was playing deep and pushed a bunt down the third-base line for a leadoff single. Melton threaded a single through the left side of the infield and Mitchell Nau put both runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Daniel Mengden hit an infield single to send Stein home with the tying run. Bratsen tried to send Melton home with a squeeze bunt, but Melton was thrown out at the plate.
The Aggies staked claim to a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fifth. With two outs, Cole Lankford drove a double down the rightfield line and scored when Stein sent a double down the other foul line for the 2-1 lead. Stein came around to score when Missouri second baseman Kendall Keeton was unable to gobble up a grounder by Melton.
Missouri (15-28, 7-17 SEC) threatened to tie the game in the sixth. Dane Opel singled through the right side of the infield and stole second base to start the inning and with two outs Chase Munson drew a walk, but Kent came in from the bullpen and induced an inning-ending groundout by Josh Lester to end the rally.
Texas A&M tacked on an insurance run in the sixth. With one out, Krey Bratsen hit a wall-banger down the leftfield line for a double, moved to third on a single to rightfield by Jace Statum and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mikey Reynolds for the 4-1 lead.
Eric Anderson (0-2) was saddled with the loss for the Tigers. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks over 4.2 innings.
Melton, Mengden and Stein each logged two hits to lead the Aggies. Melton went 2-for-4. Mengden went 2-for-3 with one RBI. Stein went 2-for-4 with two runs, one double and one RBI. Mikey Reynolds had his streak of games reaching base snapped at 45 and his hit streak was halted at 15 games, his second streak of the season of 15 or more games.
Opel accounted for two of the Tigers’ six hits, going 2-for-4 with one stolen base.
The Aggies return to action at Blue Bell Park on Thursday with a three-game SEC series against the LSU Tigers.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Rob Childress
On getting the sweep: “It feels great. We haven’t had that feeling in a long time. I thought we played really well today, minus the first inning. Matt Kent came in and got us a hold and Jason Jester was able to finish it off in the ninth. Raffy had a fantastic week for us, getting us two wins. He only gave up one earned run on the week. That’s pretty awesome.”
On Rafael Pineda’s performance: “He got himself going. He walked the leadoff hitter and then we didn’t handle a ball on the bunt and just like that we’re chasing runs. Luckily, we were able to keep it at one that inning. Raffy made some big pitches when he had to. He showed a lot of courage today and a lot of heart. I’m proud of our starting rotation this weekend.”
Junior catcher Troy Stein
On the team’s performance this week: “This was a huge week for us, both Tuesday and this weekend. We tried to carry it over from the midweek game and come in here and take care of business. That’s a really good team over there but we felt like we needed to beat that team. Hats off to the pitching staff they had a great weekend. This is the first time in a while that we’ve had three really good starts consecutively. The bullpen did great. The defense was as good as it’s been in a while. When you pitch well and play good defense, you can win a lot of ballgames.”
Freshman pitcher Matt Kent
On the team getting the win: “We had a couple of down weeks where things weren’t really going our way but we just kept playing our game and things turned around for us. It feels great to go 4-0 on the week.”
On his performance: “Coach called on me to come in and help Pineda get out of a jam. Coach did a great job of calling pitches. Troy did a great job behind the plate and helped me out. It’s fun being out there and having a normal day at the park.”