COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Junior right fielder Tyler Naquin went 4-for-5 at the plate and collected his 16th career outfield assist Wednesday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park as the No. 5 Texas A&M baseball team defeated Northwestern State 8-1.
Naquin tied his career high with the four base knocks to highlight a quartet of Aggies that enjoyed a multi-hit afternoon during the team's 15-hit outburst. Junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds also set his personal best as he notched three singles in the victory.
"I thought we played as well as we have in a long time, probably since that first weekend series," Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "I was proud of the way we played in every facet of the game: offensively, defensively and on the mound."
Freshman Corey Ray (1-0) gave Texas A&M a solid outing on the mound, earning his first career victory by throwing seven strong innings allowing just one run on six hits, while walking only one and striking out four.
''I was really proud of Corey Ray's performance," Childress added. "That's about as well as I've seen him pitch in a while. He got rattled a little bit in the first inning. The one walk he had, they made him pay for it, but after that he really settled in and pitched a heck of a ball game. It's important for us. We've got another guy that we can count on in the middle of the week."
Despite the contest's eventual one-sided outcome it was the Demons who scored first, getting an RBI single from designated hitter Colin Bear in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead.
The single run would be all that Ray and the A&M defense allowed on the afternoon as the Aggies quickly took control of the contest in the home half of the third. During the frame A&M used back-to-back, two-out RBI singles from Naquin and senior third baseman Matt Juengel to take a 2-1 advantage.
For Juengel, the run batted in would be the first of four in the contest for the Houston native, giving him a team-best 32 during his three-year Aggie career.
Texas A&M seized all of the momentum during the bottom of the fifth as Reynolds and Naquin notched consecutive singles to begin the frame. Juengel pushed across the inning's first run as the Demons committed an error trying to retire him at first base. Freshman Mitchell Nau and senior Jacob House added RBI singles before two more runs came across on a passed ball and fielding error, respectively.
"We've been really good offensively the last three games, like we're capable of being," Childress said. "It's really good that we can maintain that consistency. We have 12 or 13 hitters that are playing every day and those are the guys we're going to count on. On the pitching side of things, our bullpen has been fantastic and they were again today."
Northwestern State attempted mount a comeback in the sixth inning with what appeared to be a two-out double from Bear, however, Naquin fired a laser throw from deep in the right field corner to second base, cutting down the runner and ending the threat.
Juengel added an RBI single in bottom of the seventh while Parker Ray and Estevan Uriegas contributed scoreless innings out of the A&M bullpen to give the game its final score and improve the Aggies' record this spring to 8-1.
Texas A&M is back in action at home this weekend when it hosts defending Big 10 co-Champion Michigan State on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park during a three-game series.