COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Senior pitcher Ross Stripling tossed his fifth career complete game Saturday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park to lead the No. 8 Texas A&M baseball team to a 9-2 victory over Kansas State.
“It was important for Ross to have a good start and get our bullpen some rest,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “We’ve ridden them pretty hard through the last six games. That’s one of the biggest and best performances we’ve had in a long time and it came just when we needed it most.”
The victory tied the Big 12 opening series at one game apiece and improved the Aggies’ overall record to 15-5 this season. Stripling continues to creep up the Texas A&M career wins list as the effort was the 24th victory of his four-year career to move him into a tie with Rick Luecken (1980-83) for eighth all-time.
Texas A&M made several line-up changes on Saturday, inserting senior Scott Arthur back into the line-up at second base and moving freshman Blake Allemand over to third. Arthur went 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and his first double of the year while Allemand drew a pair of walks.
Childress praised both players following the victory.
“Scott Arthur had an excellent game today and Blake Allemand continues to have great command of the strike zone. We had great at bats, played great defense. It was a big win and it gives us an opportunity to go out and win the series tomorrow.”
After falling behind by a pair of runs in the top of the third on a home run by KSU centerfielder Jared King, the Aggies countered in the bottom of the inning by utilizing the long ball themselves to take a 3-2 lead.
With a pair of runners on base, senior first baseman Jacob House connected on a 1-0 pitch from KSU starter Joe Flattery (3-2) and drove the offering beyond the right field wall for his team-leading third round-tripper of the year.
“It (the House home run) was huge,” Childress commented. “You could feel when they hit that two-run homer the emotion in the stadium and dugout was sucked out. For Jacob to come right back and give us a lead with one swing of the bat was huge and it gave us a nice lift. We only get to play 56 games and emotion is a huge part of it. I’m proud of our guys the way we came out after last night and played an all-around great game of baseball today. Good all-around performance today, probably the best we’ve had all year, and it came just when we needed it most.”
Using run-scoring singles by junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds and Arthur, the Aggies built a 5-2 lead in the middle innings before putting the game out of reach with a three-run bottom of the seventh.
“I was glad to get the opportunity,” Arthur said after the contest. “I’m just looking to do my role, be it at third, second, in the outfield, or as defensive replacement … whatever I can do to help this team win. These past few weeks I’ve had the defensive role, and that’s what I tried to do today: come in and play good defense and try to set the tone for the rest of the team.”
House notched an RBI single in the seventh to drive home his fourth run of the contest, tying his career-best mark which he set twice a year ago. Junior left fielder Brandon Wood added to the offensive breakout as he connected on his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to left.
Sophomore centerfielder Krey Bratsen put the finishing touches on the victory with a perfectly placed RBI sacrifice bunt during the bottom of the eighth.
Sunday’s rubber match will pit a pair of right-handers against one another on the mound as Texas A&M sends Rafael Pineda (2-0, 1.93 ERA) up against KSU’s Kayvon Bahramzadeh (3-0, 3.05 ERA). First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m.
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