COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A three-run top of the eighth proved to be the deciding factor Friday night on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park as No. 6 Baylor defeated the No. 2 Texas A&M baseball team by the score of 5-3 in front of 5,621 fans.
“It really was a good game between two good teams,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “Baylor is playing really good right now and they got big hits when it mattered … We’ve got to play better. It doesn’t matter who’s in that other dugout, we’ve still got to play better, eliminate mistakes, and take advantage of our opportunities better.”
For the Big 12-leading Bears the victory was their school-record 22nd in a row and improved their overall record to 33-7 and their league record to a perfect 16-0. The Aggies (28-10), meanwhile, remain in a second place tie with Texas at 9-4 in conference play.
After A&M starter Michael Wacha was able to escape a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the first inning, the Aggies took an early 2-0 lead during their first turn at the plate.
Shortstop Mikey Reynolds led the frame off with a triple down the left field line and scored two batters later on an RBI ground out by right fielder Tyler Naquin. The rally continued as first baseman Jacob House singled to right and advanced into scoring position on a Baylor fielding error. Senior designated hitter Matt Juengel took advantage of the opportunity with a run-scoring single to left field that put A&M up by a pair of runs.
Baylor cut the home lead in half during the top of the second as the Bears scored on an RBI single by designated hitter Nathan Orf.
The inning was another high-stress frame on the mound for Wacha, whose pitch count went over 50 before recording the third out. The Aggie right-hander finished with a no-decision, working into the sixth inning while yielding only two runs on nine hits.
Texas A&M regained its two-run advantage in the bottom of the second on a RBI ground out by center fielder Krey Bratsen, but unfortunately for the Aggies it would be their last tally as Baylor starter Josh Turley (6-0) and reliever Max Garner blanked them on the scoreboard for the rest of the night.
After scratching across a run during the top of the fifth, Baylor grabbed the lead and the momentum from the Aggies in the top of the eighth. The inning began ominously for Texas A&M as reliever Jason Freeman (1-1) struck out the first batter of the inning but on the play he and catcher Troy Stein got mixed up and a passed ball following the swing and miss allowed the batter to reach first.
The miscue was followed by a strikeout and a single, prompting a move to the Aggie bullpen as junior Kyle Martin replaced Freeman on the mound. An RBI single from Lawton Langford greeted Martin and tied the game at 3-3, while an Aggie error put runners at second and third.
Following an intentional walk, Martin struck out catcher Josh Ludy to record the second out of the frame, but center fielder Logan Vick came up with the big hit for the Bears when he drove in two runs with a single up the middle.
Garner worked a scoreless eighth and ninth to end any Aggie comeback plans and record his sixth save of the season.
The series continues Saturday as the venue shifts to Waco’s Baylor Ballpark. First pitch for Saturday’s contest is set for 6:35 p.m. when A&M sends RHP Ross Stripling (6-1, 2.82 ERA) to the mound to face Baylor’s Trent Blank (8-0, 2.48).
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