LAWRENCE, Kan.- Senior Darby Brown hit two home runs and drove in a career-high six on Sunday afternoon to lead No. 20 Texas A&M to a 10-8, come-from-behind win at Kansas before 739 fans at Hoglund Ballpark.
The victory was the Aggies’ fourth in a row and gave A&M (21-6, 6-3 Big 12) its first three-game conference series sweep since May 2003. The Jayhawks (18-12, 1-5) were swept at home in a league series for the first time in three years.
Brown, who hit his first career grand slam in the first inning, stepped to the plate as the tying run with two outs in the top of the seventh. After taking the first pitch for a strike, Brown drilled an offspeed pitch from KU reliever T.J. Walz high over the center field fence to tie the game at eight.
Dane Carter then drove in the game-winner in the eighth. With runners at second and third and the score still deadlocked at eight, the senior third baseman ripped a 2-2 pitch into center to bring home Brooks Raley and Kyle Colligan with the game’s final runs.
Travis Starling got the final four outs of the game for the Aggies to pick up his sixth save of the season.
“This was a huge weekend for us,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “With the way the last two games went, it would be easy for us to be standing here talking about losing two of three. But to sweep the series says a lot about the toughness of our team.
It what was the turning point of the game, A&M reliever Scott Migl worked into and out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the sixth.
A lead double followed by a walk and an infield single loaded the bases and had KU looking to extend its 7-6 lead. First baseman Luke Anders fielded a hard ground ball off the bat of Jayhawk third baseman Tony Thompson and went home to get the first out. Migl then struck out center fielder Nick Faunce and got second baseman Robby Price to pop out to short.
Brown, who went 2-for-5 on the afternoon with the pair of homers and six RBI, finished the week hitting .500 (10-for-20) with 12 RBI. Besides Brown, A&M was led Sunday by Kyle Colligan (3-for-5, 3 runs) and Dane Carter (1-for-4, 3 RBI). Ben Feltner, Kevin Gonzalez and Jose Duran added two hits apiece.
“Darby just had a tremendous week, and it’s nice to say that about someone other than Dane (Carter) and Jose (Duran),” Childress said. “If we get some other guys going as well, we have a chance to really get on a roll.”
Robby Price, Buck Afenir, Erik Morrison and Joe Southers each had two hits for Kansas.
A single and a pair of walks to lead off the game set up A&M for a big first inning, and the middle of the lineup would deliver.
After Jose Duran brought home Kyle Colligan and kept the bases juiced with an RBI single to right, senior Darby Brown connected on a 1-2 pitch and drove it over the fence in right for his first career grand slam. The home run was Brown’s team-high fifth of the year and extended the Aggie lead to 5-0.
A&M would add another run in the second on an infield grounder by Dane Carter.
The big lead would be short lived, however, as Kansas pushed across seven runs in the bottom half of the inning off a trio of Aggie pitchers.
Preston Land started the scoring with a two-run double. Two batters later Kansas added a sacrifice fly and followed that with an RBI double and three straight run-scoring singles to take the lead.
The Jayhawks would add a two-out RBI single in the sixth to push their lead to 8-6 before A&M began its comeback.
Kyle Thebeau (2-2) picked up the victory for A&M, allowing one hit in two scoreless innings of work. Travis Starling picked up his team-leading sixth save, going 1 1/3 and allowing one hit and no runs while fanning one.
KU reliever Andres Esquibel (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing five hits and two earned runs in 1 1/3.
Texas A&M opens a five-game homestand on Tuesday when the Aggies open a mid-week series with Stephen F. Austin. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 888-99-AGGIE or online at aggieathletics.com.
“I hope we can build on this week,” Childress said. “We were down several times and were able to come back, and that toughness is something we can draw from as we head into an even tougher schedule. I’m looking forward to going home and playing 17 of our next 21 at home, I can tell you that.”
TEXAS A&M POSTGAME NOTES:
• Texas A&M swept a three-game Big 12 series for the first time since 2003…the Aggies’ last three-game sweep in a league series was against Kansas at Olsen Field (May 9-11, 2003)…it also marked A&M’s first road Big 12 sweep since April 11-13, 2003 (at Kansas State).
• The Aggies won this weekend’s series with Kansas and improve to 11-1 all-time in Big 12 series against the Jayhawks…A&M’s series win in Lawrence was its first since 2002.
• Texas A&M became the first team to sweep KU in Lawrence since 12th-ranked Baylor in 2005.
• Texas A&M finished a 4-0 week that saw the Aggies rally late in three of the games…A&M drove in the winning run in the ninth on Tuesday at UTSA, in the 10th on Saturday against KU and in the eighth today against the Jayhawks.
• Darby Brown hit the first grand slam of his career in the first inning…it was the first by an Aggie since Craig Stinson’s against Texas in the Big 12 Tournament on May 24, 2007…Brown extended his hit streak to 11 games with the round-tripper, the sixth of his career.
• With the eighth-inning home run, Brown posted his first-ever multi-HR game.
• Jose Duran extended his career-best hit streak to 11 games with an RBI single in the first.
• Both Duran and Brown have hit safely in all nine of Texas A&M’s Big 12 games.
• Kyle Colligan led off the game with a single for the third straight day…Colligan went 3-for-5 and posted his sixth multi-hit game of the year.
• Texas A&M leads the overall series, 40-14, and 28-8 since the formation of the Big 12 in 1997.
• Game-time temperature was 53 degrees with overcast skies and a light wind blowing left to right.