AUSTIN, Texas – A two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth lifted No. 20 Texas to a 2-1 victory over the ninth-ranked Texas A&M baseball team Sunday afternoon on UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The Longhorns (25-16; 12-6 Big 12) narrowly avoided the sweep at the hands of the Aggies (31-13; 11-7 Big 12), who clinched the series victory with wins on both Friday and Saturday.
“It looked like a Friday night with the way the pitching went and a 1-0 game going into the ninth inning,” Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “It was a well-pitched, well-played game and we had a couple opportunities to get the big hit and we didn’t. You’ve got to give Texas credit because they came and took it from us there in the ninth inning with our best reliever on the mound.”
Texas A&M starter Rafael Pineda turned in his biggest performance in an Aggie uniform by throwing 7.2 shutout innings before leaving in the top of the eighth with his team holding a 1-0 advantage. The right-hander kept the Longhorn offense in check and frustrated the majority of the afternoon, yielding only a pair of hits while walking two and striking out six.
“I’m really, really proud of him (Pineda),” Childress commented. “It’s as good of a performance as he’s had here to date. He did everything he could to give us a chance to win.”
Texas lefty Dillon Peters made the start on the mound for the Longhorns, working a career-best four scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen to start the fifth. He was replaced on the mound by right-hander Corey Knebel, who received a less than warm welcome when he was hit in the midsection with a line drive off the bat of the first batter he faced.
Junior left fielder Brandon Wood became the first Aggie base runner in scoring position during the top of fifth as he doubled to left center off Knebel and was able to score later in the frame on an RBI single by freshman third baseman Blake Allemand.
Pineda recorded the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth before walking leadoff hitter Mark Payton and giving way to lefty reliever Estevan Uriegas. Uriegas, a native of nearby Round Rock, Texas, was able to get the Aggies back in the dugout as he got Texas second baseman Brooks Marlow to fly out to left field for the frame’s third out.
A&M junior right fielder Tyler Naquin notched a one-out double in the top of the ninth as the Aggies attempted to tack on an insurance run, but Knebel (3-2) induced a double play to quell the threat.
During the fateful bottom of the ninth, Texas A&M brought on junior reliever Kyle Martin (5-4), who had allowed a run only twice during his previous 10 appearances. Back-to-back singles by Erich Weiss and Jonathan Walsh greeted Martin and were followed by a sacrifice bunt which moved both runners into scoring position.
Texas was able to tie the game on an infield single by catcher Jacob Felts before completing the comeback win by scoring on a fielder’s choice when the Aggies unsuccessfully attempted to cut down the winning run at the plate.
The Aggies are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Huntsville, Texas, to battle No. 24 Sam Houston State in a 6:30 p.m. contest at SHSU’s Sanders Stadium.