COLLEGE STATION, TX -- Junior right fielder Tyler Naquin knocked in two runs in support of starter Michael Wacha on Friday night as the ninth-ranked Texas A&M baseball team defeated Texas Tech 4-2 in the opener of the three-game series on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
“It was a real well-played ballgame,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “We left a couple runs out there in the first inning and again in the eighth. Fortunately for us it didn’t come back to bite us. You’re only going to get so many opportunities, especially on a Friday night.”
The Aggies (33-13; 12-7 Big 12) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Naquin notched an RBI triple to deep center.
Naquin added his second RBI of the night during the home half of the third with a run-scoring ground out that made it 2-0 Aggies.
For much of the night the two runs seemed to be enough support for Wacha (7-0), who limited the Red Raiders to just five base runners while keeping them off the scoreboard for the first five frames.
Texas Tech (26-23; 5-14 Big 12) rallied to tie the game in the top of the sixth, scoring twice off Wacha with RBI singles from first baseman Stephen Hagen and right fielder Jordan Lopez.
The Aggies quickly responded in the home half of the sixth, scoring an unearned run as freshman Blake Allemand was hit by a pitch from Tech starter John Neely with the bases loaded.
Wacha blanked the Red Raiders in the seventh prior to exiting after allowing just the two runs on eight hits during his 121-pitch outing. The Texarkana, Texas, native fanned nine in the contest and became just the third Aggie to join the 300-career strikeout club alongside former A&M greats Casey Fossum and Jeff Granger.
Senior designated hitter Matt Juengel, who went 2-for-4 in the contest, extended the A&M lead to 4-2 with a run-scoring triple in the bottom of the eighth.
Neely (3-6) took the loss on the mound for the Red Raiders, being charged with three runs on five hits during 5.1 innings of work.
Texas A&M sophomore catcher Troy Stein notched a pair of hits in three at bats on the night to raise his batting average to a team-high .377 in Big 12 play.
During the game, the Aggies wore pink arm sleeves and batting helmets as part of an effort to increase awareness for breast cancer.
“There’s not a person in the dugout or in the stands that hasn’t been affected by some shape or form of breast cancer,” Childress said. “It’s an honor for us to be able to do something like this and raise awareness and money. We were glad to be a part of it.”
The series continues on Saturday when the Aggies send right-hander Ross Stripling (6-2; 2.65 ERA) to the mound to face Tech lefty Rusty Shellhorn (5-2; 4.26 ERA). First pitch is slated for 2:05 p.m.
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