COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win in walk-off fashion over the Houston Baptist Huskies, 6-5, Tuesday evening on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. The victory marked the 300th career win for Aggie head coach Rob Childress.
After Tyler Hoelscher battled through 8.0innings, throwing 143 pitches to keep Houston Baptist in the lead, 5-4, Ryan Lower came in to start the bottom of the ninth. This new pitcher didn’t scare the Aggies, as they quickly had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with one out. Daniel Mengden struck out swinging to start the frame, but Cole Lankford followed with an infield single to second base. JB Moss pinch ran for Lankford at first and reached second when Huskies’ first baseman Mike Chamberlain throw to retire him on Jonathan Moroney’s fielder’s choice grounder sailed into leftfield. Pinch-hitter Troy Stein was issued a base on balls to load the bases with one out.
Lower walked Jace Statum on six pitches giving the Aggies their tying run. With bases still loaded and one out, Mikey Reynolds fouled off four pitches in a 2-2 count before popping up to the second baseman for the second out of the inning. Krey Bratsen fouled off the first pitch he saw before Lower dealt four consecutive balls to plate the winning run.
In the bottom of the first, Reynolds slapped a single to rightfield, extending his hit streak to 17 games. He advanced to second when Brasten drew a walk. Allemand sacrificed the runners into scoring position with a bunt. Nau lined out to shortstop for the second out, but made way for Mengden who walked to first. With the bases loaded, Lankford knocked a double to left center allowing Reynolds and Bratsen to score. With Mengden on third, Brandon Wood reached on a throwing error by HBU’s second baseman and allowing Mengden to score for the 3-0 lead.
Aggie starter Corey Ray held off the Huskies until the top of the fourth. HBU’s Luke Clements singled to centerfield, Jordan McCoy singled through the right side of the infield and Jake Gonzales bunt singled to get bases loaded. Samm Wiggins hit a two-run double to the wall in rightfield to close the score the Aggies lead to 3-2. With one out Houston Baptist reloaded the bases when Curtis Jones was hit by a pitch. CJ Jarvis pushed in two runs with a single up the middle to give HBU a 4-3 lead.
Houston Baptist added a run in the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead. With one out, Clements reached on an infield single and scored when McCoy doubled to rightfield.
The Maroon and White shaved a run off the lead in their turn at-bat in the fifth. Mengden knocked his second career home run down the leftfield line to tighten the score to 5-4.
Jason Jester (1-0) fanned three of the four batters to earn his first career win. Jason Freeman worked 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, scattering three walks while striking out four.
Hoelscher worked 8.0 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits and seven walks, while striking out one. Lower (2-3) was saddled with the loss, allowing two unearned runs on one hit and three walks while striking out one over 0.2 innings.
Lankford led the Aggies at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Reynolds went 2-for-6 with one run.
Luke Clements and Jordan McCoy each had two hits for Houston Baptist. Samm Wiggins and CJ Jarvis each drove in two runs.
The Aggies return to action on Friday as they make their SEC debut in a three-game series against the Georgia Bulldogs. Friday’s action starts at 6:35 pm. Game time for Saturday is slated for 2:05 pm. Sunday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest with a 12:05 first pitch.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: "It was big for us to get back out on the field after the disappointing weekend that we had out at Cal-State Fullerton. It was very important for us to come out and play well. I thought Corey Ray was very good. The second time around, he wasn’t able to throw his secondary stuff for strikes. I thought their starter was going to be able to make their lead stand up. He threw on Friday and then threw over 140 pitches tonight. I was very impressed by him. He was very good. Once they went to the bullpen, we were able to get ahead in the ninth."
On the offensive performance: "I thought we hit a lot of balls well. We had a lot of opportunities with runners in scoring position. We were able to walk ten times to only striking out twice. We had ourselves set up. We just couldn’t grab the key hit to put them away. Give their pitcher credit. He made a lot of pitches when he had to. He wasn’t overpowering. He didn’t strike out a lot of guys. We put a lot of balls in play and hit a lot of balls hard."
On starting SEC play: "It’s big-time baseball. We get to come out to practice the next two days and get ready for Georgia. It’s going to be a great challenge, one we’re looking forward to."
On getting his 300th win in a close game: "It’s no surprise. Benchmark wins don’t come easy. I’m honored to be at Texas A&M, coaching with some of my best friends and coaching this team. I told them I’d like to be a part of 350 wins with this team."
Junior Centerfielder Krey Bratsen
On the final at-bat: "I was looking to put a ball up the middle. That’s where the biggest hole was. I was able to foul off the curveball. Then Coach Sawyers gave me the take sign to see another pitch. I just wanted to hit a ball up the middle, but he didn’t throw me a good pitch to hit."
On what helped him in his last at-bat: "Mikey really help me with his at-bat. He let me see a lot of pitches and see how his curveball broke. It helped me getting my timing down."
On starting SEC play: "I can’t wait. We’ve played a lot of great teams. I think we’re ready. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get wins in some of those games. I think playing those great teams is going to help us get ready for the SEC."
Sophomore First Baseman Cole Lankford
On Coach Childress’ 300th win: "Congratulations to Coach Childress on getting his 300th win as an Aggie. He’s a great coach and I couldn’t imagine playing for anybody else. This win is great for our momentum as we get ready for SEC play. We’re going to practice hard this week and see what we can do against Georgia."
On his success against HBU starting pitcher Tyler Hoelscher: "All the other guys were able to milk at-bats and get pitches out of him. He happened to leave a pitch up for me that I was able to take advantage of. I give all my credit to my teammates, without them I wouldn’t be having the success that I’m having."