Aggies even Arkansas series with 6-2 triumph

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies rode early offense from Braden Shewmake and Bryce Blaum and a stellar night on the mound by three pitchers to defeat the No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks, 6-2, Friday evening on Olsen Field on Blue Bell Park.

Starter John Doxakis (7-3) earned the win in 5.2 inning of work. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks, while fanning eight.

Aggie relievers Bryce Miller and Joseph Menefee came in clutch to close out the game, just yielding two hits in their 3.1 innings of relief. Miller spelled Doxakis in the top of the six, in a two-out, bases-loaded situation and blew three pitches by Jordan McFarland for the strikeout. He worked 1.2 inning, giving up just one hit and one walk, while striking out two. Menefee pitched the final 1.2 innings, giving up one hit while fanning a season-high five.

The Aggies’ pitching staff recorded their 36th double-digit strikeout performance of the season. The 15 strikeouts moved them to third on the Texas A&M single-season strikeouts list with 591, 21 shy of the school record 612 set in 2010.

Texas A&M plated runs in four different frames to stump the Razorbacks. The Maroon & White got off to a hot start with Shewmake and Blaum going yard in back-to-back at-bats to start the game, and then added a pair of runs in the second on a two-run double by Shewmake. The Razorbacks took a jab at the lead in the fourth, with a two-run bomb, but the Aggies struck back right away in the home half of the fourth and seventh, with single runs in each.

The first two hitters in the lineup sparked the offense, recording four hits, two runs, two walks and five RBI. Shewmake stole the show going 2-for-4 with one run, one double, one home run, one walk and three RBI. Shewmake’s three RBI performance bumped him up to number seven on the Texas A&M career RBI list with 159, the Aggies’ top run producer of the 21st century. Blaum was 2-for-4 as well, with one run, one home run, one walk and two RBI, while Jonathan Ducoff added one hit, two runs and one walk.

The Aggies improved to 35-19-1 overall and 15-13-1 in SEC play, while the Razorbacks dropped to 40-14 on the season and 20-9 in league action.

UP NEXT
The Aggies and Razorbacks play the rubber match Saturday at 11:02 a.m.

SCORING SUMMARY
B1| The Aggies didn’t take long to strike, going yard in back-to-back at-bats to start the game. Shewmake drove the second pitch he saw over the right-center wall, while Blaum deposited a 1-2 offering over the leftfield wall. A&M 2, ARK 0.

B2| Logan Foster and Jonathan Ducoff drew consecutive one-out walks, before scoring on a wall-banger roped down the rightfield line by Shewmake for a double. A&M 4, ARK 0.

T4| Heston Kjerstad got things started with two outs, singling to leftfield, before being plated on a two-run jack by Jack Kenley. A&M 4, ARK 2.

B4| With one out, Ducoff singled to second base, and advanced to second on an infield single to third by Allonte Wingate. Ducoff moved to third on a fielder’s choice, and touched then home on another infield single, in the shortstop-third base gap, by Blaum. A&M 5, ARK 2.

B7| Hunter Coleman began the inning drawing a six-pitch base on balls, before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mikey Hoehner. Cam Blake was issued an intentional walk to fill first and bring up Foster. Foster proceeded to lace a double down the leftfield line, plating Coleman. A&M 6, ARK 2.

TEXAS A&M QUOTES

Head Coach Rob Childress

On the victory against Arkansas in game two…

“There was so many heroes tonight. We started with a bang offensively, and grabbed all the momentum. The sixth inning was huge when we loaded the bases, and Dox [John Doxakis] refused to break. He got two big strikeouts to give the ball to Bryce Miller, and he gets a strikeout to get us off the field. We come back and scored an insurance run in the next inning, and our bullpen made us stand up. I’m very proud of our team as a whole. That took a lot of heroes for us to win that game tonight.”

On the Aggies’ offensive performance…

“We scored early and were able to play free, play aggressive, and continue to put pressure from an offensive standpoint again tonight, like we did last night. Logan [Foster], Bryce Blaum, we had a lot of guys put pressure on them, each and every inning. It’s incredibly important, and we’re playing pretty good right now.”

On John Doxakis’ pitching tonight…

“He was as close to perfect that you could ask. He made one mistake. He’s so competitive; he pitches like a linebacker. He pitches with his heart on his sleeve. He’s our energy, and he leads us the way a guy is supposed to lead us on the mound. He’s outstanding.”

Junior LHP John Doxakis

On letting the bullpen help control the lead…

“It’s tough to give the ball up, but it’s in the team’s best interest. As much as we’re competitors and want to stay out there, at some point you got to give it up. I have no problem giving it up to our bullpen. They’re one of the best in the country, if not the best.”

On the emotions he felt during the critical sixth inning…

“It’s funny, because in the club house after I was telling Asa [Lacy] I was actually more nervous before the game. Before the bases were even loaded, honestly, I was more nervous. At the same time, in the back of your mind you got to know to make the big pitches. You got the bases loaded with no outs, so it was definitely in the back of my mind. However, I was a lot more nervous before the game to just get things rolling.”

Sophomore RHP Bryce Miller

On how he felt going into the situation with the bases loaded…

“[John Doxakis] was fighting all night, and giving it his all the whole night. So I figured I just needed to come in and shut them down and get his runners off the base and get us some momentum.”

On how important it was to not make mistakes…

“They’re a great hitting team, especially with the wind that we today, and the elements. We knew that we almost had to be perfect. It’s what we have been training for. We knew we could get out there and do it.”

Junior RF Logan Foster

On how he felt about making the throw to third to get the runner out in the eighth…

“In that situation, I looked up to see if my cutoff man was there. Braden [Shewmake] was not there, and I was just going to try to keep it as low as possible. It kind of came out high, and in that situation you just got to trust the guy on the other side who’s going to make a play.”

On if the early run support allowed him to relax later in the game…

“Yes sir. To come out and have everything clicking at once from the word ‘go’, that’s big for us and allows guys to get more comfortable in the box.”

Junior SS Braden Shewmake

On how important his home run to start the game was…

“It’s definitely not for me, it’s all for the team. Coach [Childress] talked a lot about getting off to a great start, and we did that today. It wasn’t just me, it was everybody. Everybody was putting good swings on balls early and hit a lot of hard balls and a lot of line drives. We had some that we didn’t have anything to show for it, but it’s all positives.”

On what the emotions of the sixth inning was like…

“The coolest part about that whole thing is that you’ve got bases loaded after we made an error. [John Doxakis] turned to us and said, ‘I got you.’ And he turns around and strikes two guys out. That’s just the competitive spirit that he has and that we have as a team. He’s going to carry us a long ways.”