LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech earned a come-from-behind win over the Aggies as the No. 14 Texas A&M softball team (31-14, 11-6 Big 12) dropped an 8-6 decision to the 24th-ranked Red Raiders (35-12, 8-7 Big 12) Wednesday in the conference series finale at Rocky Johnson Field.
The Red Raiders slowly chipped away at an early 5-0 lead by the Aggies before a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth gave Texas Tech its first lead of the game. A&M took the series win, 2-1, after going 2-0 in a doubleheader yesterday.
“You always remember your last game, but our kids fought hard,” head coach Jo Evans said. “In that last inning our kids set the table. We had exactly who we wanted up, in Meagan May. Their right fielder made a really nice play. I can’t fault our kids for how we came out in that last inning. We at least gave ourselves a chance. I just felt like we played on our heels a lot today. You have to keep being aggressive. I’m pleased with our kids. I thought they fought hard.”
A pair of base hits and a hit batter loaded the bases for Texas Tech in the bottom of the first but junior Mel Dumezich pulled the Aggies out of the dangerous situation by fanning the final batter.
The Aggies also loaded the bases in the top of the third, and capitalized on a base hit by Dumezich. With one out, sophomore Emily Albus and junior Meagan May each singled to reach base. Sophomore Nicole Morgan took a pitch to the body before, with two outs and bases loaded, Dumezich sent a ball into left field to score Albus from third for a 1-0 lead.
A four-run fourth inning highlighted by a three-RBI home run by sophomore Cassie Tysarczyk pushed the Aggies out to a 5-0 lead. Due to an error by Texas Tech, each run was unearned.
With two outs and runners on first and second, May pounded a base hit up the middle that sent Villarreal home from second base and pushed Albus to third before May advanced to second on the throw. Sophomore Kaydee Rayburn entered to pinch run for May at second just as Tysarczyk went yard over right-center field for the 5-0 lead.
Texas Tech answered with a home run of its own in the bottom of the fourth. The long ball scored two runners as the Aggies’ lead was narrowed to 5-2. The Red Raiders closed in to a 5-3 deficit before the end of the inning when an RBI single scored one from second. An error by the Aggies almost allowed a second run on the play, but Dumezich quickly grabbed the ball and tossed it to May who threw the advancing runner out at home for the third out.
The Aggies loaded the bases again in the top of the fifth on a fielder’s choice and a pair of walks, but Texas Tech pitcher Cara Custer caught the final two batters swinging to end the inning with A&M still in a 5-3 lead.
“I think we really cost ourselves the game when we had bases loaded and one out,” Evans said. “I felt like that would have made a huge difference in the ballgame if we would have taken advantage of that bases-loaded situation with one out.”
The Red Raiders pulled the Aggies’ lead within one run in the bottom of the inning. A double to right-center and a hard-hit single into centerfield scored the 5-4 run for Tech.
A walk and a groundout put Tysarczyk on second in the top of the sixth before a single to centerfield by Dumezich scored the right fielder to stretch the Aggies’ lead back to two runs at 6-4.
The new lead didn’t last long, however, as Tech took its first lead of the game on a grand slam over left-center by first baseman Sandy James. The bases-clearing homer pushed the Red Raiders out to an 8-6 lead over the Aggies.
In an attempt to rally in the top of the seventh, the Aggies put Villarreal and Albus on base on a fielder’s choice and a bunt single. With two outs, May sent a laser down the right field line and threatened to score a pair of runs but Texas Tech right fielder Ashley Hamada dove and rolled and came up with the ball to end the game with an 8-6 victory for Texas Tech.
Dumezich (22-10) suffered the loss after giving up five earned runs on seven hits in five innings of work. The junior fanned five batters and walked five on the day. Custer (21-8) struck out three batters and gave up two earned runs on six hits while walking seven for the win.
“Our pitchers really struggled today,” Evans said. “They didn’t look anything like they did yesterday. You’ve got to back it up. You’ve got to back up what you did yesterday. I feel like Mel has to understand that she’s good enough to come out and beat that team a second time. I just felt like she really didn’t trust herself today.”
The Aggies return home next Tuesday to host No. 25 Baylor in the conference series finale between the two schools at the Aggie Softball Complex. A&M leads that series, 2-0. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.