COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 4 Texas A&M baseball dropped its first game of the 2012 season Saturday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, falling to Holy Cross 7-3 in 10 innings.
“Holy Cross played better than we did from start to finish,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “Coach DiCenzo had them ready to play and they made all the routine plays. When they got themselves into jams, they were able to get themselves out of it by making the pitches when it mattered most. Holy Cross did a great job … we had our chances, but give Holy Cross all the credit. They played the game of baseball a lot better than we did today and made the most of the opportunities they had. We were able to come back and chip away at their lead, but we never were able to deliver the knockout punch. We had a couple opportunities that we just never made the most of. We definitely got what we deserved today.”
The loss drops the Aggies’ overall record to 5-1 on the year while the Crusaders improved to 1-1 during their season-opening series.
As they have in each game so far this season, the Aggies jumped out to an early lead by scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Three consecutive one-out walks by Holy Cross starter Matt Croglio set the stage for sophomore left fielder Jace Statum to break the ice on the scoreboard with a bases-loaded walk.
The home advantage would not last long, however, as the Crusaders, sparked by the first home run of the season from first baseman Jordan Enos, scored three runs off A&M starter Ross Stripling in the top of the second inning.
Stripling settled down after his rocky second frame, working into the seventh inning and allowing just the three runs on six hits while striking out 10 to reach double-digits in punch outs for the third time in his career.
“He (Stripling) started out really shaky,” Childress added. “He was leaving everything up in the zone but he was able to battle back and have a good start.”
After neither team was able to push across a run in the third and fourth frames, the Aggies when to work chipping away at the Holy Cross lead. Senior first baseman Jacob House got the rally going with a sac fly in the home half of the fifth and junior Brandon Wood completed the comeback with a pinch hit RBI single in the sixth. Wood finished the contest 2-for-2 at the plate, raising his batting average up to .263 on the year.
The bullpens took over in the game’s late innings and for the second time in two days nine innings was not enough time to decide the issue between the two clubs.
However, unlike Friday night’s Aggie win in 11 innings, it was the Crusaders who took advantage of the extra time. Holy Cross pushed across four runs in the top of the 10th against A&M reliever Kyle Martin (0-1) to even the series at one game apiece.
Texas A&M right fielder Tyler Naquin continued his blistering clip at the plate on Saturday, going 2-for-2 with three walks to raise his average to .571 (12-for-21) and his on-base percentage to .667.
The series continues Sunday with the rubber match between the two teams at 12:05 p.m. The Aggies will send right-hander Rafeal Pineda (1-0, 0.00) to the hill against Holy Cross righty Nate Walker (0-0, 0.00).