NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The Texas A&M Aggies were unable to take advantage of an early 3-0 lead against No. 7 Vanderbilt, falling to the Commodores 8-5 at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon.
The loss evened the series at one win apiece heading into Sunday’s rubber match at 1 pm.
The Aggies broke the scoring seal in the top of the first inning. Blake Allemand started the contest with a six-pitch walk and moved to third when Logan Taylor roped a first-pitch offering down the leftfield line for a double. Cole Lankford plated both runners by bouncing a single up the middle, staking A&M to a 2-0 lead.
The Maroon and White tacked on another run in the second inning. With one out, Ronnie Gideon pulled a double down the leftfield line. Krey Bratsen grounded to third, but Gideon was retired at third on the fielder’s choice. Bratsen stole second base and came around to score when Allemand snaked a single through the right side of the infield for the 3-0 lead.
The Commodores broke through the blockade in the home half of the second inning. With two outs, Rhett Wiseman blooped a single to centerfield and stole second base. John Norwood plated Wiseman with a single to leftfield and, after stealing second, Norwood scored on a double to leftfield by Jason Delay, cutting the A&M advantage to 3-2.
Cole Lankford lofted the first pitch dealt in the third inning over the 35-foot monster-like wall in leftfield for his fourth home run of the season, giving A&M a 4-2 lead.
Vanderbilt (27-9, 7-7 SEC) wrangled the lead from the Aggies in the home half of the third. The Commodores led off the frame with back-to-back doubles down the leftfield line by Xavier Turner and Bryan Reynolds to cut the lead to 4-3. Vince Conde drew a five-pitch walk and Zander Wiel bunted both runners into scoring position. It looked like Aggie starter would get out of the frame without further damage as he got Nolan Rogers to strike out swinging for the second out of the inning and Wiseman followed with a lazy fly ball to the gap in left-center. Unfortunately for the Aggies, miscommunication in the outfield allowed the Wiseman’s fly to drop between leftfielder Lankford and centerfielder Bratsen, resulting in a two-run double and a 5-4 lead for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Delay dribbled a single up the middle to start the inning and drive Mengden from the contest. With Aggie reliever Jason Freeman on the mound, Dansby Swanson put down a bunt for a single. Turner followed with a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position. After Reynolds popped up to second base for the second out of the inning, Freeman uncorked a wild pitch allowing Delay to score for the 6-4 lead.
Texas A&M (21-15, 6-8 SEC) trimmed the Vanderbilt lead to 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Troy Stein gapped a double to left-center and came around to score when Gideon slapped a single back up the middle.
The Commodores padded the lead to 8-5 in the bottom of the eighth behind sacrifice flies by Delay and Swanson.
Mengden (2-5) was unable to take advantage of the early lead. He was saddled with the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out three in 3.0 innings plus one batter in the fourth.
Vanderbilt starter Jared Miller did not receive a decision, exiting the game with a 6-4 lead in the fifth inning. Jared Miller allowed four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two in 4.0 innings plus one batter in the fifth. Bryan Miller (1-0) earned the win in relief. He allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out four over 5.0 innings. Bryan Miller retired the last 11 Aggies he faced.
Texas A&M recorded eight hits on the day, but managed only two in the last five innings. Lankford led the Aggies at the plate going 2-for-4 with one home run and three RBI. Gideon went 2-for-3 with one double and one RBI.
Vanderbilt pounded out 13 hits on the day, including five doubles. Wiseman led the squad, going 3-for-4 with one double, two runs and two RBI. Swanson went 3-for-4 with one RBI. Turner, Norwood and Delay added two hits apiece.