WACO, Texas – Junior right fielder Tyler Naquin went 4-for-5 at the plate on Sunday afternoon, however, the No. 2 Texas A&M baseball team fell to No. 6 Baylor 7-5 at Baylor Ballpark to conclude a three-game Big 12 series.
Texas A&M dropped to 28-12 overall and 9-6 in Big 12 play with the loss, while the Bears ran their impressive winning streak to 24 games in a row and improved their record to 35-7 with a perfect 18-0 mark in Big 12 games.
“You’ve got to go take it; they’re not going to give you anything,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “There is a whole lot of belief over there and they are feeling pretty good about things. We’ve got a good team, too. We’re 28-12 and we’ve still got an awful lot left to play for.”
The red-hot Bears jumped out to an early lead as they scored four times in the bottom of the first inning off Texas A&M starter Rafael Pineda. Baylor’s Max Muncy and Cal Towey chipped in with RBI singles in the frame, but the inning’s biggest hit came off the bat of Josh Ludy. The Baylor catcher fouled off 10 consecutive pitches from Pineda before connected on his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot that narrowly cleared the wall in left field.
Texas A&M rebounded and got on the board during the top of the third as back-to-back singles from Naquin and Matt Juengel set the table for Naquin to come home on a fielder’s choice later in the frame.
The four-hit afternoon for Naquin tied his career high as the Big 12’s leading hitter raised his season average back up over .400 at .408 for the year.
The Aggies continued to chip away at the Baylor lead by scoring a run during the top of the fifth before the visitors were able to take advantage of some shaky Baylor defense in the sixth and open their first lead of the day.
During the frame, senior second baseman Scott Arthur notched a one-out single before back-to-back errors allowed the inning to continue and A&M to score three runs, taking a 5-4 lead.
The A&M advantage did not last long, however, as during the bottom of the sixth a one-out double by Ludy chased Pinada and kick started a two-run rally that recaptured the lead for Baylor at 7-5.
Pineda got a no decision in the contest, allowing five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work, but kept the Aggies in the contest by retiring 12 straight batters before the Ludy double in the sixth.
“Once he (Pineda) settles in and the fastball starts sinking a little bit he gets pretty good,” Childress added. “I thought he was good against a hot offense today.”
Reliever Parker Ray (1-1) took the loss as he allowed his first earned run of the season in the bottom of the sixth.
Junegel made his second straight start at first base, filling in for the injured Jacob House, who is day-to-day with a bruised foot suffered during the series opener Friday night.
Texas A&M baseball is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Fort Worth, Texas, to face TCU in a 6:30 p.m. contest at Lupton Stadium.