COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies were unable to capitalize on a 10-hit effort by the offense and a strong pitching performance by starter Grayson Long, losing a 5-1 decision to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. Sunday’s loss prevented the Aggies from registering the three-game series sweep and snapped a four-game win streak.
On the afternoon, A&M was doomed by four runners retired on the base paths, including two each in the second and fifth frames. The Bulldogs thrived despite stranding 11 base runners on the day.
Louisiana Tech (5-10) broke the scoring seal in the top of the second inning. With one out, Taylor Burch fouled off a couple of pitches to draw an eight-pitch walk, moved to second on a groundout to second by Thomas Simoneaux and scored when Ryan Jones laced a single through the right side of the infield for the 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M (11-5) missed an opportunity to responded in the home half of the second as the Maroon and White logged two hits in the inning, but had both runners thrown out on the base paths. Hunter Melton led off the inning with a single to right field and advanced to second when a pickoff attempt by Louisiana Tech starter Richie Navari sailed past the first baseman for an error. After Logan Nottebrok hit a fly out to leftfield for the first out of the inning, Troy Stein doubled to the gap in right centerfield. Melton was hung up waiting to see if a tag-up was needed on the play before making the break for third. He rounded third and headed home where he was retired as Bulldog rightfielder Bre’shon Kimbell hit the cut-off man, Simoneaux, at second and the relay throw to catcher Tyler Qualls beat Melton home by two steps. Stein advanced to third on the throw home but was tagged out trying to score on wild pitch with Logan Taylor at the plate.
The Aggies posted an equalizer in the bottom of the third. With one out, Patrick McLendon drew a five-pitch walk and Jace Statum put two runners in scoring position with a double to the gap in right centerfield. JB Moss bounced a high, chopping grounder to third allowing McLendon to score, knotting the game at 1-1.
In the fifth inning, McLendon hit a leadoff single to leftfield, but was retired at second trying to stretch it into a double. With two outs, Moss singled to shallow centerfield but stumbled after rounding first base and was tagged out for the final out of the frame.
The Bulldogs came unleashed in the eighth inning. With Ryan Hendrix on the mound after getting the Aggies out of a jam in the seventh, Taylor Love was issued a five-pitch walk to start the inning. Jason Freeman came in from the bullpen and struck out Chandler Hall looking for the first out of the inning, Qualls singled to centerfield to put two runners on and Burch knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to leftfield. The rally continued in the when Simoneaux reached on a bunt single. Jones was hit by a pitch to inflate the lead to 3-1 and the Bulldogs finished off the rally with an RBI single by Kimbell and a run-scoring groundout by Colby Johnson.
Long was left with no decision despite a strong outing. The northpaw allowed just one run on four hits and four walks while striking out three in 6.2 innings of work. Hendrix (0-1) was saddled with the loss, yielding the go-ahead run on a walk in the eighth inning.
Navari (3-0) crafted a complete game for the Bulldogs. He allowed one run, scattering 10 hits and two walks while striking out two in 9.0 innings of work.
Krey Bratsen was the only A&M starter not to log a hit in the contest. Stein went 2-for-3 with one walk and one double. The Aggie catcher had two hits with runners in scoring position but was left without an RBI. McLendon went 2-for-2 with one walk, one run and one sacrifice bunt.
Kimbell was the lone LA Tech player with multiple hits, going 2-for-5 with one RBI. Jones led the Bulldogs with two RBI and Burch accounted for two runs.
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies host the UT Pan American Broncs in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On not taking advantage of opportunities...
“We had 10 hits against a guy who threw strikes with three pitches. We gave away four outs on the bases. I’d like to have those back to see what would happen. We gave them some opportunities and they made the most of them.”
On Grayson Long...
“Another great performance by Grayson got us deep in the game with a chance to win. You figure when you give up one run with your Sunday starter you are going to have a chance to win, and we weren’t able to do it for him offensively.”
On base-running plays...
“A couple of them were aggressive mistakes. We tried to get to second on a ball down the line and they make a great throw. I’d say three of the four were mistakes. Those four outs that we made on the bases—I would’ve liked to have those at-bats, and made him go get outs from our hitters rather than making those outs on the bases.”
Senior Catcher Troy Stein
On base-running plays...
“We couldn’t get a big hit today. No matter what the situation was, we couldn’t get a big hit. We ran ourselves out of a couple innings, and just didn’t play Aggie baseball. We need to be better than that, and when there are guys in scoring position we need to get big hits.”
On giving them opportunities...
“Whether it be physical errors on defense or giving up free base runners, we let them hang around long enough for them to snake an inning and put up a couple runs in an inning where they don’t hit a ball hard. A couple dink hits here, a bunt hit, a leadoff walk, and a hit batter, it kind of fell right into their hands today. That comes from us not coming out and playing our game.