COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The sixth-ranked Texas A&M baseball team withstood a scrappy comeback attempt by No. 22 Oklahoma State Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium to defeat the Cowboys by a final score of 8-7.
The victory clinches the No. 2 seed for Texas A&M at next week’s Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City. The Aggies also reached the 40-win plateau for 20th time in program history and fifth time in seven seasons under the guidance of head coach Rob Childress.
The Aggies struck first in the contest, using a two-run home run by senior first baseman Jacob House in the top of the first to build a 2-0 advantage. The long ball was the team-leading eighth of the year for the Mansfield, Texas, native who also paces the ball club with 48 RBI.
Texas A&M (40-14, 15-8 Big 12) continued its early offensive success against OSU starter Vince Wheeland during the top of the second as it extended its lead to 4-0 with two more runs. Freshman Blake Allemand drew a one-out walk in the frame and was quickly joined on base by senior second baseman Scott Arthur, who singled through the left side.
Junior right fielder Tyler Naquin was hit by a pitch to load the bases for senior Matt Juengel, who singled down the left field line to score both Allemand and Arthur.
Oklahoma State (32-22, 13-10 Big 12) got on the scoreboard during the bottom of the second as a third baseman Mark Ginther made it 4-1 with an RBI single.
The run broke a 15-inning scoreless streak for Texas A&M starter Ross Stripling, who tossed the 11th no-hitter in Texas A&M baseball history during his previous outing.
Juengel added his third RBI of the night during the top of the fourth as he singled home Arthur, who had singled and stole second.
The run chased Wheeland, who lasted only 3.2 innings on the mound and was charged with five runs on eight hits.
Junior left fielder Brandon Wood connected on his fifth home run of the season during the top of the fifth, a solo shot over the left field wall that extended the A&M lead to 6-1.
The tide of the game turned during the bottom of the sixth as the Cowboys notched four straight singles off Stripling to begin the inning and kick start a five-run rally. The frame’s biggest knock came as Ginther connected on a three-run home run that tied the sides at six runs apiece.
Naquin came up big for the Aggies in the top of the eighth as he followed a walk to Krey Bratsen earlier in the inning with smash triple to right field to regain the lead for the Aggies. He came in to score himself on a wild pitch during the next at bat to put the A&M in front 8-6.
After senior lefty Estevan Uriegas worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, junior reliever Kyle Martin came in to close out the Cowboys in the ninth.
OSU was able to muster a run off Martin but left the potential tying and winning runs on base as the Austin, Texas, native recorded his sixth save of the season.
Stripling (10-2) picked up the win in the contest despite allowing six runs during his seven-inning outing.
The victory gave Stripling a total of 31 during his four-year Texas A&M career, tying him with Aggie great Jeff Granger (1991-93) for third most all-time. He sits just three wins shy of the school record of 34, which is shared by Mark Ross (1976-79) and Mark Thurmond (1976-79).
The series concludes Saturday when the Aggies send right-hander Rafael Pineda (5-1, 2.51 ERA) to the mound to face the Cowboys in a 1 p.m. contest.