COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Three Texas A&M pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout on Tuesday evening as the Aggies cruised to a 7-0 win over UT Arlington on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
After failing to record an out in his last two starts, Rafael Pineda cruised through the first seven innings, facing just 22 batters.
Pineda finally hit a rough patch in the eighth inning, when UT Arlington collected two one-out singles and a hit batsman to load the bases. AJ Minter came in from the bullpen and struck out the only two batters he faced on 11 pitches.
Andrew Vinson worked the final inning, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Pineda (2-2) earned the win, scattering three hits and one hit batsman while striking out three over 7.1 innings.
The Aggies staked claim to an early lead with a run in the home half of the second inning. Troy Stein hit a wall-banger to centerfield for a leadoff triple. After Cole Lankford reached base when the Mavericks’ catcher was unable to corral the third strike, Mitchell Nau knocked Stein home with a grounder that was mishandled by UTA’s shortstop.
The Maroon and White mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the third. After Charlie Curl and Mikey Reynolds were retired, Krey Bratsen chopped a ball over the third baseman’s head and down the leftfield line for a double and Blake Allemand and Stein were issued walks to load the bases. Lankford smacked a single back up the middle to drive in Bratsen and Allemand for the 3-0 lead.
Daniel Mengden tattooed the first pitch of the fourth inning for a solo home run over the leftfield fence, inflating the Aggies’ cushion to 4-0.
Texas A&M (18-8) scored a pair of runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-0. Brandon Wood reached on a throwing error by the Mavericks’ third baseman and Curl singled to the gap in left centerfield. A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. Reynolds knocked in Wood with a grounder back to the pitcher and Bratsen drove Curl home with an infield single.
Curl tacked on the last run of the game, hitting a leadoff dinger over the leftfield fence for the 7-0 margin.
Keegan Hucul (0-1) was saddled with the loss for the Mavericks. He yielded four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two over 4.0 innings.
Curl went 2-for-3 with two runs, one home run and one RBI. Bratsen went 2-for-5 with one double, one run, one stolen base and one RBI.
J. M. Twichell logged two of UT Arlington’s four hits.
The Aggies return to action Thursday when they head to the Palmetto State for a three-game series against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Thursday night game is slated for 6:30 pm Central on ESPNU.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On Rafael Pineda’s performance: “Sometimes you take a tough loss like we took on Friday night; nights like that the L stands for ‘learning’. Pineda came out on Friday and had a sparkle in his eye. You could see that he was back. He earned his start tonight. He was very efficient. He pounded the strike zone from the word go against an offense that’s coming off scoring 15 runs on Sunday. I would say we have Raphael Pineda back.”
On the offensive performance: “I’m proud of our team for staying in the moment. We had seven runs on ten hits with no errors and we shut them out on four hits. I couldn’t have asked for anything more out of them. It was a total team effort. We were able to put last weekend behind us and focus on today.”
Junior Centerfielder Krey Bratsen
On the effort: “It was a great effort by everybody today. I’m excited for Raphy. I’m glad he’s back where he needs to be. He threw a heck of a game. I think for him to have some runs behind him was huge for him.”
On scoring 17 runs in the past two games: “I think we got more comfortable at the plate. We’ve done a lot better job of adjusting to breaking balls which we haven’t been doing in the past. I think Coach Sawyers has a great approach for us to hit the ball up the middle.”
Junior Pitcher Rafael Pineda
On what worked for the team: “Everything was working for us tonight. We were on point. It felt good to be on the mound again and throwing strikes. We did a great job tonight. Stein did a great job behind the plate.”
On being able to contribute: “It feels great to be able to help the team out. As a pitcher, we don’t get that many opportunities to contribute. It feels great to be able to come out and help the team get a win.”