CORVALLIS, Oregon – Cole Lankford and Parker Ray both turned in career-best performances on Saturday afternoon to lead the Texas A&M Aggies to a 6-1 win over the UTSA Roadrunners in Corvallis Regional action of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship at Goss Stadium.
Lankford registered a career-high with five hits, going 5-for-5 with one double, one run and two RBI. His five hits set a school record for most hits in an NCAA Championship game. Multiple Aggies had four-hit games, with the most recent coming from Luke Anders in 2008 against Illinois-Chicago.
Ray (2-1) allowed one run on five hits and one walk while striking out a career-high eight batters in 8.2 innings of work. The northpaw turned in the longest outing of his career one week after pitching 8.0 scoreless innings against No. 1 Vanderbilt in a 5-0 victory at the SEC Tournament.
The Aggies pounced on the Roadrunners for a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, stringing together three extra-base hits to start the frame. Mikey Reynolds punched a double down the rightfield line to start the game. Blake Allemand followed with a hit down the rightfield line of his own. He ran around the bases like he was on a jet-propelled pogo stick for an RBI triple as the Roadrunner rightfielder John Welborn chased the ball into the corner. Lankford inflated the cushion to 2-0 knocking home Allemand with a double into the left centerfield gap.
UTSA (35-25) gave Ray his only blemish in the third inning. With two outs, Riley Good singled up the middle and Daniel Rockett was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. RJ Perucki followed with a single to leftfield plating Good and cutting the A&M advantage to 2-1.
The Maroon and White created breathing room with a three-run fifth inning. Allemand roped a leadoff single to leftfield and Lankford followed with an infield single. Hunter Melton threaded a single through the left side of the infield, sending Allemand home for the 3-1 advantage. After Troy Stein flied out to rightfield for the first out of the inning, Daniel Mengden deposited a 1-0 offering down the leftfield line for a double, plating Lankford easily and Melton rumbled around the bases like he was on rocket-powered roller skates to score from first for the 5-1 lead, chasing Roadrunner starter Brock Hartson from the game.
A&M dropped the final anvil on the Roadrunners with a run in the sixth inning. With one out, Reynolds drew an eight-pitch walk and moved to second on a grounder by Allemand. Lankford bounced a single up the middle to score Reynolds for the 6-1 lead.
Allemand also had multiple hits for the Aggies going 2-for-5 with one triple, two runs and one RBI. Melton went 2-for-5 with one run and one RBI.
Five different players accounted UTSA’s five hits. Correa had the lone extra-base hit with a double.
Hartson (9-5) was strapped with the loss. He allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out one over 4.1 innings. Wesley Cox pitched 4.2 innings of solid relief yielding just one run on three hits and one walk while striking out two.
AJ Minter retired the only batter he faced to close out the game on the mound for the Aggies.
The Aggies return to action on Sunday when they face the loser of Saturday evening’s Oregon State/UCSB game in an elimination contest at 2 pm Central at Goss Stadium.
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