COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Junior pitcher Michael Wacha threw seven strong innings Friday night on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park as the No.5 Texas A&M baseball team defeated Michigan State 7-3 in front of 5,236 fans.
“Tonight we definitely had a Friday night atmosphere,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “Michigan State has a great team and they’re all older kids. They have a lineup that never quits and all have great approach at the plate making them tough to pitch too. I thought we had a great approach against them from the word go. They’ve got a veteran club over there, and just like a veteran club they’re not going to go away. We still had our hands full there at the end but I was really proud of the way we played defensively.”
The Aggies and their right-handed starting pitcher from Texarkana, Texas, fell behind early in the contest as Michigan State’s second batter of the game, centerfielder Torsten Boss, took Wacha deep over the wall in right field to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
The mistake was one of only a few for Wacha (2-0) on the night as he worked into the eighth inning before giving way to the Aggie bullpen. He finished with just two runs against his ledger on six hits while walking only one and striking out seven.
Offensively, junior All-American Tyler Naquin drove in a season-best three runs to lead the Aggies, who put up 12 hits on the night. The A&M right fielder tied the game with a sac fly in the bottom of the second before senior third baseman Matt Juengel added an RBI single during the next at bat to give A&M its first lead of the night at 2-1.
Texas A&M took control of the contest during the home half of the third as it plated three more runs to open a 5-1 advantage. Junior left fielder Brandon Wood opened the frame with a double down the left field line before scoring two at bats later on a Krey Bratsen infield single.
Freshman Blake Allemand followed Bratsen with a base hit, setting the table for junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds and Naquin to bring home two more runs with consecutive singles to left field.
Wood added his 10th RBI of the season during the bottom of the seventh with a sac fly to right field, giving the Aggies a 6-1 edge.
After Michigan State scored in the top of the eight, Naquin plated his third RBI of the night and gave the Aggies back their five-run cushion with a double down the right field line that scored Reynolds.
Senior lefty Estevan Uriegas entered the game with the bases-loaded in the top of the eighth and retired pinch hitter Andy Johnson to get the Aggies out of the inning without further damage. The Round Rock, Texas, native has stranded all nine runners he has inherited this season.
The Spartans were able to bring home another run in the top of the ninth, but A&M freshman Daniel Mengden recorded the game’s final three outs to quell the rally.
The victory improved the Aggies’ overall record to 9-1 this season while MSU fell to 4-4. The series continues on Saturday with a 2:05 p.m. contest that will pit Texas A&M junior pitcher Ross Stripling (1-0, 3.29 ERA) against Spartan right-hander Andrew Waszak (1-0, 1.38 ERA).
“I think Ross matches up really well with them,” Childress added. “He’s going to have to be better than he was last weekend. The wind is going to be blowing in again tomorrow so it’ll be another pitching and defensive day.”