COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies claimed their second consecutive SEC road series, winning the rubber match against the No. 21 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 6-4, on Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
AJ Minter, Corey Ray and Ty Schlottmann combined for four innings of scoreless relief as the Aggies grinded out the win.
Before one could count to ‘Five Mississippi’, Texas A&M got on the scoreboard posting a run in the top of the first inning. Blake Allemand dropped a full-count offering down the leftfield line for a single to start the frame and Patrick McLendon drew a five-pitch walk to put two runners on. After Cole Lankford struck out swinging for the first out of the inning, Nick Banks a ball up the middle that took a bad hop over the head of Bulldog second baseman Brett Pirtle for an RBI single, plating Allemand for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies added two more runs in the top of the second. Ryne Birk sparked the rally putting a line drive just past the glove of Pirtle diving into the gap on the right side. Logan Taylor followed with a single up the middle and Jace Statum put down a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position and drive Bulldog starter Preston Brown from the game, relieved by Ben Bracewell. After Bratsen ground to the shortstop, playing in, for the second out of the inning, Allemand drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases. McLendon drove a single into shallow left-center to knock in Birk and Taylor for the 3-0 advantage.
The Bulldogs came unleashed in the bottom of the second inning, knotting the game with three runs. With one out, Zack Randolph, Wes Rea and Matthew Britton all singled through the left side of the infield to load the bases. Aggie starter got Cody Brown to swing at an outside pitch for strike three, but the wild pitch got away from A&M catcher Troy Stein allowing Randolph to score. Alex Detz provided the equalizer when he slapped a first-pitch offering into right-center for a two-run single, tying the game at 3-3.
Texas A&M (27-18, 10-11 SEC) reclaimed the lead with a two-out rally in the top of the fourth. With two down, Krey Bratsen and Allemand both bounced singles up the middle. McLendon drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases and Lankford slapped a gapper to right-center for a two-run single, giving A&M a 5-3 margin.
Mississippi State (28-17, 11-10 SEC) drove Aggie starter Grayson Long from the contest with a rally in the bottom of the sixth. Jake Vickerson snaked a leadoff single through the right side of the infield and moved to second base on a passed ball. Randolph poked a single to rightfield to put runners on the corners and Rea looped a single to rightfield to score Vickerson and cut the A&M lead to 5-4. AJ Minter relieved Long on the mound and struck out the next two batters. Minter walked Detz on seven pitches to load the bases but induced a fly out to rightfield by Pirtle to end the frame.
The Aggies manufactured an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning. Allemand singled to leftfield and stole second base. After McLendon struck out swinging and Lankford flied out to leftfield, Banks chopped a single over the first baseman and Allemand slid home ahead of the through of rightfielder Demarcus Henderson to give A&M a 6-4 cushion.
Texas A&M scratched out 12 hits and six walks on the afternoon. Allemand led the attack, going 3-for-4 with three runs and one stolen base. Banks and Taylor each added two hits. McLendon, Lankford and Banks all logged two RBI.
Rea paced the Bulldogs with three hits. Pirtle, Heck and Randolph added two apiece.
Long (6-1) earned the win, working 5.0 innings. He allowed four runs on 10 hits and one walk while striking out two. Minter worked 1.1 blank frames, scattering one hit and one walk while striking out two. Ray allowed one hit in 1.2 innings of work. Schlottmann picked up his second save of the season, allowing one hit in 1.0 innings.
Brown did not factor in the decision, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk while striking out one in 1.1 innings. Bracewell (3-4) was saddled with the loss, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one in 2.1 innings. Jacob Lindgren was unhittable in relief, recording seven strikeouts and walking two in 2.2 innings.
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies host the Texas State Bobcats in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On the week…
This was a big week for us playing four ranked teams on the road and getting three wins. It says a lot about the character and toughness of our guys. I thought we played very well in every facet of the game. We were good offensively against a very good pitching staff. Defensively we were outstanding and on the mound we had different guys step up for us in some pressure spots.
On getting early leads the last two games…
It was very important. They made their runs at us like good teams are always going to do, but Grayson (Long) was able to weather the storm. And the bullpen worked some very good innings for us.
On Ty Schlottmann the last two days…
You see the confidence growing in him. He’s ready to be a guy. You can see it the last four or five weeks. He’s ready to step into a very important role for us.
Junior relief pitcher Corey Ray
On the bullpen…
The bullpen was great. We threw a lot of guys out there and we threw strikes. The defense was amazing today and it made it easy for the pitchers.
On winning the series…
This is a huge series win. All of our games down the stretch are big. It was important for us to take this road series and we want to take this momentum into our Tuesday game against Texas State.
Freshman second baseman Ryne Birk
On the offensive production…
We got ahead early, which was important. They tied the game, but we got some more runs and had them on their heels most of the game. Our offense had a good approach.