COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 30 Texas A&M Aggies were doomed by Houston’s five-run fifth inning in a 7-6 loss to the Cougars on the opening day of the Astros Foundation 2013 College Classic at Minute Maid Park on Friday evening.
The Aggies got solid performances at the plate by freshman Jonathan Moroney and senior Mikey Reynolds. Moroney went 3-for-3, including A&M’s first home run of the season. He added a double and three RBI. Reynolds went 3-for-5 with a double and one run scored.
Trailing 7-6 in the ninth, Texas A&M (7-4) loaded the bases but were unable to push the tying run across. Reynolds reached on a leadoff single and was pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen. Daniel Mengden popped foul to third base for the second out, but Moroney drew a walk and Mitchell Nau reached on an error by the Cougars’ third baseman to load the bases for Troy Stein who swung-and-missed on an 0-2 pitch to end the game.
The Cougars scratched out a run in the top of the first inning to start the scoring. Josh Vidales drew a leadoff walk, the first issued by Aggie starter Kyle Martin in 2013. After Landon Appling grounded out to first base, Frankie Ratcliff singled to put runners at the corners. With two outs, Justin Montemayor drove a single to rightfield to plate Vidales for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies provided an immediate response with three runs in the home half of the first. Reynolds laced a hit into the gap in right centerfield and when the Cougars’ outfielders were slow to pounce on the ball, he got on his horse to stretch it into a double. Reynolds moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Bratsen and scored when Mengden drove a ball to the wall in left centerfield for an RBI triple. A&M claimed the lead when Moroney hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to knock Mengden home. Mitchell Nau was hit by a pitch to breathe new life into the rally. Stein found the gap in right centerfield for a double and Nau rumbled home safely as the catcher was unable to handle the throw to the plate.
Houston cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth inning. Caleb Barker bounced a single up the middle to start the frame and with one out Kyle Survance was issued a base on balls. Price Jacobs bounced into a fielder’s choice grounder, retiring Survance at second and putting runners on corners. Vidales singled through the right side of the infield to push Barker across.
Texas A&M manufactured a run in the home half of the fourth to push the lead back to two runs. With one out, Blake Allemand was hit by a pitch and Logan Taylor singled to the gap in right centerfield to put runners on the corners. Charlie Curl squeezed Allemand home with a sacrifice bunt to give A&M 4-2 lead.
The Cougars wrestled the lead away from the Aggies in the top of the fifth inning. Ratcliff hit a lead-off home run over the rightfield wall to cut the Aggies’ lead to 4-3. Houston loaded the bases with singles by Jonathan Davis and Montemayor and an unsuccessful force-out attempt at third on a sacrifice bunt by Barker. Back-to-back two-RBI singles by Kyle Kirk and Kyle Survance gave Houston the 7-4 advantage.
In the fifth, Moroney launched a two-out, 3-2 offering onto the porch in leftfield to cut the Cougars’ lead to 7-5.
The Aggies trimmed the margin to 7-6 in the seventh inning. With one out, Bratsen reached on an infield single to third base. After Mengden fanned for the second out of the inning, Moroney drove a wall banger to left centerfield to plate Bratsen.
Kyle Martin (0-2) was saddled with the loss for Texas A&M. He allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four over 4.0 innings. Matt Kent had his longest career outing, pitching 3.0 shutout innings of relief, scattering one hit and one walk while striking out one. Andrew Vinson and AJ Minter both pitched scoreless frames to finish the game for the Aggies.
Daniel Smith (1-2) earned the win in relief for Houston, allowing one run on one hit over 1.2 innings. Chase Wellbrock earned the 4.0-inning save, allowing one run on five hits and one walk while striking out three.
Ratcliff paced the Cougars’ offense going 3-for-4 with one double, one home run and one RBI. Vidales, Montemayor and Barker each had two hits for Houston.
The Aggies return to action at Minute Maid Park on Saturday with a 7 pm contest against the No. 12 Rice Owls.