COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies dropped Friday night’s series opener against the Auburn Tigers on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, losing a 6-4 decision in 10 innings.
Auburn (18-12, 2-8 SEC) struck the game-winning blow with one out in the top of the 10th inning of a 3-3 game. Ryan Tella hit a leadoff single up the middle off A&M reliever Andrew Vinson. Vinson got Jordan Ebert to strike out swinging for the first out of the inning. Tella stole second base and Cullen Wacker was issued an eight-pitch walk to put two runners on. Zach Brashear came in from the bullpen to face Garrett Cooper. Cooper responded by hitting a 1-0 offering over the leftfield fence to give the Tigers a 6-3 advantage.
Texas A&M (19-12, 5-5 SEC) mounted a 10th-inning rally but it came up short. With one out, Blake Allemand drew a six-pitch walk and Cole Lankford followed with a single to rightfield to put runners on the corners. Jonathan Moroney plated Allemand with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to cut the lead to 6-4, but pinch-hitter Jace Statum flew out to centerfield to end the game.
The Aggies pounced on the Tigers for two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Mikey Reynolds lined a leadoff single to leftfield and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Krey Bratsen. Allemand dropped a single down the rightfield line to plate Reynolds for the game’s initial run. Lankford singled to leftfield and Allemand and Lankford pulled off the double steal to put two runners in scoring position. Moroney bounced a slow grounder to second base to knock in Allemand for the 2-0 lead.
A&M starter Daniel Mengden battled through six scoreless innings, before the Tigers finally scratched out runs in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Jackson Burgreen singled to centerfield. Blake Austin reached on a throwing error by Aggie shortstop Reynolds to put runners on the corners. Dan Glevenyak knotted the game at 2-2, driving a 2-1 offering into the left centerfield gap to send both runners home. Auburn looked to take its first lead of the game when pinch-hitter Patrick Savage roped a single into rightfield, but Wood gunned Glevenyak out at home for the final out of the inning.
The Aggies reclaimed the lead in the home half of the seventh. Troy Stein singled up the middle and moved to second with a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Curl. JB Moss pinch-ran for Stein and scored on a throwing error on a Bratsen infield single, staking A&M to a 3-2 lead.
Auburn retied the game with a run off A&M closer Jason Jester in the top of the eighth inning. Tella blooped a single to shallow left centerfield and moved to second on an Ebert sacrifice bunt. Wacker put runners on the corners with a single to rightfield and Cooper plated Tella with a slow grounder to third, tying the game at 3-3.
Texas A&M missed a pair of prime scoring opportunities. In the second inning, Wood hit a leadoff triple. Stein struck out swinging for the first out and Wood was retired after getting caught in a rundown when Curl was unable to get the bat on a suicide squeeze. In the sixth inning, Lankford and Moroney hit back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and second. After Mengden struck out swinging, Wood laced a single up the middle, but Lankford was thrown out at home on the play, once again preventing the Aggies from taking a 3-0 lead.
Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision despite strong starting performances. Mengden worked 7.0 innings, allowing two unearned runs on seven hits while striking out five. Auburn’s Conner Kendrick allowed three runs, two earned, on 10 hits and one walk while striking out four over 6.1 innings.
Terrance Dedrick (2-2) earned the win in relief for the Tigers. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out three over 3.2 innings.
Vinson (0-1) was saddled with the loss for A&M, yielding two runs on one hit and one walk while striking out one in 0.1 innings. Jester had his first unsuccessful save attempt of the season, allowing one run on three hits while striking out two in 2.0 innings.
Lankford paced the Aggies with three hits on the day, going 3-for-5 with one stolen base. Stein went 2-for-3. Bratsen was 2-for-4 with one stolen base and one sacrifice bunt. Wood went 2-for-4 with one stolen base.
Tella led the Tigers at the plate, going 3-for5 with two runs and one stolen base. Cooper went 2-for-5 with one run, the decisive home run and four RBI. Glevenyak went 2-for-4 with one double and two RBI.
Texas A&M and Auburn return to Blue Bell Park on Saturday for game two of the three-game series at 2:05 pm.
Texas A&M Head Coach Rob Childress
Post-game statement: “We started really well. Daniel (Mengden) wasn’t as sharp as he normally is from a command standpoint but he battled really well. We grabbed the lead in the first inning and he settled in. In the second inning, we had a runner at third with no outs and we weren’t able to score. After that, their guy settled in. We still had some opportunities. The seventh inning, they got a big hit with two outs to tie the game. We had the courage to take the lead back and put our closer in the game. They answered right back. I thought Auburn played an outstanding ballgame. We tried to make a run in the tenth after they hit the homer. It was just a night of missed opportunities for us. Daniel gave us a really good start. I thought we had competitive at-bats. This is a really tough loss.”