OKLAHOMA CITY – Travis Starling threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and the Aggie offense stole seven bases on Saturday as No. 11 Texas A&M, dropped K-State, 7-2, keeping its championship hopes alive in the Big 12 Tournament at the Bricktown Ballpark.
With the win, the Aggies improved to 43-16 overall and to 2-1 in the Big 12 Tournament, while K-State dropped to 34-24 and 1-2. With a Texas win over Nebraska in Saturday’s second game, Texas A&M would advance to the tourney’s title game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Travis came up big for us,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “It was important for him to finish the game, especially if we are fortunate enough to play tomorrow, and it will do nothing but give him more confidence. We need people to step up and take advantage of their opportunities when they get a chance in the post-season. Kirkland (Rivers) did it yesterday and Travis did it today.”
Starling earned his first save of the year in his longest outing of the year. He allowed just two hits and two walks and recorded one strikeout.
The seven steals increased the Aggies’ season total to 137, setting a new school record. The old mark was 133 in 1989. Ben Feltner swiped three bags in the game, improving his season total to 34.
A&M took the early lead in the top of the first with a run off K-State starting pitcher Chase Bayuk. Brian Ruggiano legged out a double to center, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Feltner and scored on a ground out by Blake Stouffer.
The Aggies stretched their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third. Luke Anders was hit by a pitch and scored on a triple to deep right field by Kyle Colligan, who later scored on a bunt single by Parker Dalton.
K-State catcher Rob Vaughn hit his third homer of the year in the bottom of the second to make the score 3-1.
In the third, Feltner drew a lead walk, stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Stouffer.
With two outs and nobody on in the fifth, Stouffer walked, stole second and scored on a single to left by Craig Stinson to increase the A&M lead to 5-1.
Kyle Thebeau replaced A&M starter David Newmann to start the sixth and was ineffective. With one out, Thebeau walked Vaughn and Tyler Ruch and then allowed an RBI single to Derek Bunker. Starling replaced Thebeau with a 2-0 count on Eddie Vasquez and struck him out on his first three pitches. He then coaxed Adam Muenster to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.
A&M got the run back in the top of the seventh to regain a four-run lead. Stinson drove in his second run of the game with a two-out single to right that scored Stouffer from second.
Feltner drove in a run with a squeeze bunt in the eighth to increase the A&M lead to 7-2.
Newmann (10-1) threw five-complete innings and allowed one run on five hits. Newmann and Kyle Nicholson (11-1) became the first pair of 10-game winners for the Aggies since Casey Fossum and Chris Russ turned the trick in 1999.
Bayuk (5-6) shouldered the loss, allowing six runs on eight hits in seven-complete innings of work.
A&M – 121 010 110 – 7 10 0
KSU – 010 001 000 – 2 8 1
A&M: Newmann, Thebeau (6), Starling (6) and C. Stinson; KSU: Bayuk, Morris (8) and Vaughn.
E – KSU: Tenbrink (18)
SB – A&M: Feltner 3 (34), Hicks (28), Stouffer 2 (20); KSU: Rumler (15)
2B – A&M: Ruggiano (5), C. Stinson (13)
3B – A&M: Colligan (2)
HR – KSU: Vaughn (3)
Win – Newmann (10-1) Loss – Bayuk (5-6) Save – Starling (1)
T – 3:10
A – 6,027