COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M Aggies started a key eight-game homestand with a 6-2 win over the Grambling State Tigers Tuesday evening on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Blake Allemand and Hunter Melton led the Aggie arsenal at the plate, combining for seven hits. Allemand went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, a steal of home and one RBI. Melton went 3-for-4 with one home run.
Daniel Mengden also recorded multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-3 with one double and one run scored. Mikey Reynolds went 1-for-4 with one walk and one double. He extended his streak for consecutive games reaching base (via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch) to 43 games, the longest active streak in the nation.
The Tigers pounced on the Aggies in the second inning for the early lead. Elias Todman laced a double down the rightfield line to start the inning and moved to third when Aggie starting pitcher Rafael Pineda threw a pickoff attempt into centerfield. Brandon Kiser hit a slow grounder to first base to plate Todman for the 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M (23-22) stranded runners in each of the first three innings, but were finally able to take the lead with a three-run fifth inning. Mengden hit a leadoff single to centerfield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen, his 16th of the season. After Jace Statum flew out to leftfield, Reynolds drew a four-pitch walk to put two runners on. Allemand bounced a single up the middle to plate Mengden with the tying run. A&M staked claim to its first lead of the game when Cole Lankford singled through the left side of the infield to score Reynolds for the 2-1 advantage.
With runners at the corners and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Lankford broke for second base to draw the throw. When Grambling catcher Jose Longoria took the bait, Allemand rumbled for home. Grambling second baseman Todman fumbled the offering from Longoria and was unable to send a throw back home, giving Allemand the stolen base and increasing the Aggie lead to 3-1.
Melton launched a first-pitch offering over the leftfield fence for a solo home run in the sixth inning to give the Aggies a 4-1 lead.
The Aggies tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning for a 6-1 margin. With one out, Allemand doubled down the leftfield line and scored on an error by the Grambling first baseman Kiser who was unable to hold on to a throw from Todman on a grounder to second base by Lankford. Lankford moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Tiger relief pitcher Cory Jordan was unable to corral a slow roller back to the mound from Mitchell Nau.
Grambling State (16-27) cut the Aggie edge to 6-2 in the top of the eighth. A&M reliever Kyle Martin hit Edwin Drexler with a pitch to start the inning. Drexler stole second base and scored when Longoria deposited a single down the rightfield line.
Pineda (4-4) picked up the win for Texas A&M. He allowed one unearned run on five hits and one walk while striking out five over 6.0 innings. AJ Minter worked a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one hit while striking out one. Andrew Vinson blanked the Tigers in the ninth inning, striking out two of the four batters he faced and allowing one hit.
Brock Baker (2-5) was saddled with the loss for Grambling State. He allowed three runs on six hits and one walk over 5.0 innings.
Despite four errors in the game, the Aggies put forth a solid effort on defense with Troy Stein and Melton each making diving catches on popped up bunts, Stein’s resulting in a double play.
The Aggies return to action on Friday when they start a three-game SEC series with the Missouri Tigers. First pitches are slated for 6:35 pm on Friday, 2:05 pm on Saturday and 1:05 pm on Sunday.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: “Raffy (Rafael Pineda) had an outstanding start for us. The bullpen did a great job for us. We didn’t strike out tonight. We put the pressure on them by getting some balls in play. Our first three runs all came with two outs there in the fifth inning. It feels good to get that dirty taste out of our mouth.”
On preparing for Missouri: “We’ll get back together on Thursday and have a good practice. I know the guys are feeling good about themselves right now. The challenge as coaches is keeping these guys positive and knowing that we have a good team and it will get better. They have stayed together and continued working together and grinding. That’s the biggest challenge.
Sophomore 2B Blake Allemand
On snapping the losing streak: “It’s been tough. It’s been no secret we haven’t been playing great lately. We haven’t been getting many breaks. Coach is preaching to keep playing hard and the breaks will come. We just have to keep approaching the game the same way and the breaks will start going our way.”
Freshman 3B Hunter Melton
On getting the win: “It’s a great feeling to get a win tonight and get back on the right track. We’re going to get ready for Missouri this weekend.”