COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies pounced on the Georgia Bulldogs for four runs in the bottom of the first inning and coasted to an 11-4 win to complete the series sweep on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 2-0 with one out in the bottom of the first inning, Krey Bratsen singled off the glove of Georgia pitcher Luke Crumley to spark the rally. After Bratsen stole second base, Blake Allemand hit his first career home run, depositing a 2-1 offering into the visitors bullpen down the rightfield line to knot the game at 2-2. With two outs, Cole Lankford followed with his first career home run, a solo dinger to right field to give A&M the lead. Daniel Mengden reached on a chopper of the pitchers head for an infield single to breathe new life into the inning. He stole second base and scored when Jonathan Moroney poked a single through the left side of the infield for the 4-2 advantage.
Georgia (8-11, 0-3 SEC) jumped on the scoreboard quickly with two runs in the top of the first. With one out, Curt Powell and Kyle Farmer hit back-to-back singles to rightfield. After Hunter Cole lined out to second base for the second out of the inning, Aggie shortstop Mikey Reynolds committed an error on a Daniel Nichols grounder to load the bases. Jared Walsh made A&M pay for the miscue by lacing a two-run single through the left side of the infield, plating Powell and Farmer.
Texas A&M (14-7, 3-0 SEC) added single runs in both the second and third innings. In the second, Jace Statum singled through the right side of the infield and was replaced at first base on a fielder’s choice groundout by Reynolds. Reynolds stole second base and scored when Bratsen pounded a 3-2 offering down the leftfield line for a double. In the third, Lankford hit a leadoff double to the gap in left centerfield, moved to third on a groundout to a charging third baseman by Mengden and scored on a grounder to second by Moroney for the 6-2 lead.
The Aggies kept the foot on the pedal with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. The inning featured an RBI single by Charlie Curl, bases-loaded walk by Statum and an RBI single by Reynolds for the 9-2 advantage.
A&M’s cavalcade of runs continued in the seventh. Walks by Moroney and Reynolds sandwiched around a double by Curl and fly out by Statum gave the Aggies a bases-loaded situation with one out. Bratsen knocked in Moroney with a sacrifice fly to centerfield and Allemand scored Curl with a single to centerfield, inflating the cushion to 11-2.
Georgia mounted a two-out rally in the top of the eighth to cut the lead to 11-4. After strikeouts by Cole and Nichols to start the frame, Walsh singled up the middle and Brett DeLoach launched a two-run home run over the leftfield fence.
The Aggies pounded out 14 hits for the game, including seven extra-base hits. Lankford led the hit parade, going 3-for-5 with one double, one triple, one home run, three runs and one RBI.
Reynolds, Bratsen, Allemand and Curl each logged two hits. Reynolds went 2-for-4 with one double, one run, one RBI and one stolen base. He extended his consecutive-game hit streak to 20 games, tied with Cliff Pennington for eighth on A&M’s all-time list. Bratsen went 2-for-4 with one run, one double, one stolen base and two RBI. Allemand went 2-for-5 with one home run and three RBI. Curl went 2-for-5 with one double, one run and one RBI.
The Bulldogs had 11 hits of their own led by Powell, Farmer, Walsh and Bowers with two apiece. Powell and Bowers each logged a double.
In his first career weekend start, Jason Freeman went 4.2 innings, allowing just two unearned runs on six hits and one walk while striking out two over 4.2 innings. Freeman’s previous career-long outing was 2.2 innings last Tuesday against Houston Baptist.
Matt Kent (1-1) picked up the win in relief, working 1.2 scoreless frames. He retired five of the six batters he faced, allowing one hit while striking out one.
Crumley (1-3) was saddled with the loss for Georgia. He allowed five runs on seven hits over 2.0 innings.
Texas A&M returns to action Tuesday as the Aggies host the Dallas Baptist Patriots in a 6:35 pm contest at Blue Bell Park.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Texas A&M Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement “I’m really proud of our team. I mean, we came out and were able to finish the weekend off the right way. It would have been real easy for us to come out and just pat ourselves on the back. In the first inning, Jason and his fastballs elevated a little bit, they strung some hits together, we made a mistake defensively, and they grabbed the lead and they had all the momentum. We come right back and answer back in the bottom of the first, and I felt like that was the deciding inning in the game. Jason [Freeman] settled in and gave us a great start, the bullpen came in and did what they needed to do. Matt [Kent] came in and got the first guy, and gave us four or five outs and then Vinnie [Andrew Vinson] was able to finish it up. But, real proud of our team and we had a very good week.”
On taking momentum into next week: “Well, it doesn’t get any easier. Whether it’s the Big 12 or SEC, you’ve got to have a short term memory if things don’t go your way, and you also have to have it when things do go your way. Dallas Baptist coming in, a very offensive team, on Tuesday, and then we turn around and take off on Thursday for Ole Miss. So it definitely doesn’t get any easier; we’ll have our challenges ahead, we’ll get a day off, and the real challenge will be on Tuesday against Dallas Baptist.”
On Cole Lankford’s play: “He had a great day, and has got himself going and has played really well the last three weeks. He has been constant defensively, but from an offensive standpoint, he has been really good for us the last three weeks.”
Sophomore Pitcher Jason Freeman
On his performance on the mound: “I felt pretty good coming out. I just felt confident in throwing it over the plate and knowing the defensive behind me was going to make plays, and they did. And then it was pretty sweet coming out in the first inning, hitting two homeruns. It let me calm down a lot more, and get settled into the moment.”
Sophomore Third Baseman Blake Allemand
On his performance at the plate: “It’s no secret that I was struggling early on. I’ve been trying to take it one game at a time and have good at bats, do anything I can do for the team. Today I was fortunate enough to get a hit.”
On responding to being down two runs going into the bottom of the first: “They got two runs early, but we didn’t panic. It was still the first inning. We just had to come in there, have good at bats. We knew we had nine at bats left to get two runs. We were able to hit some balls hard and hit some out of the yard, and make some good swings.”
Sophomore First Baseman Cole Lankford
On coming in down two runs in the bottom of the first: “It was huge for us and it really got us off on the right foot. They got some hits, they got going well. But for us to get going like that and Jason to go five innings like that, it was huge. It was a great team win.”
On almost getting a cycle and trying not to focus on it at last at bat: “I was trying not to, but still trying to get a pitch I can hit. I was just trying to do everything I can for the team, and we got the win.”