FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – The Texas A&M Aggies tied the game in the top of the ninth, but surrendered the game-winning run in the home half to fall to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 3-2, at Baum Stadium on Friday evening.
Trailing 2-1 with one out in the top of the ninth, Jonathan Moroney launched a 2-2 pitch from closer Michael Gunn to the warning track in right-center for a double. JB Moss pinch-ran for Moroney and scored when Cole Lankford drove a 1-2 pitch up the middle for the equalizer. A&M would load the bases when Nick Banks reached on an error and Troy Stein drew a five-pitch walk, but Ronnie Gideon struck out swinging on a 1-2 offering to end the frame.
Arkansas won the game in walk-off fashion in the home half of the ninth. Michael Bernal started the rally by punching a single to leftfield off Aggie reliever Andrew Vinson. Clark Eagan pushed Bernal to second with a sacrifice bunt. The next batter Joe Serrano bounced a single up the middle and A&M centerfielder Krey Bratsen charged hard and came up throwing to the plate. His throw was on time and on line, but it took a bad hop over Aggie catcher Troy Stein allowing Bernal to score without a tag applied.
The Razorbacks drew first blood in the home half of the third. Eagan worked the count full before dumping the payoff pitch into the home bullpen down the leftfield line for a leadoff home run, staking Arkansas to a 1-0 lead.
Arkansas (31-20, 12-13 SEC) added what proved to be an important an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning. With Ty Schlottmann on in relief and one out in the frame, Eagan worked a five-pitch walk and Serrano singled through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Andrew Benintendi bounced a grounder to short, but it was too slow to roll the double play and Eagan scored on the RBI fielder’s choice for the 2-0 advantage.
Texas A&M (30-20, 12-13 SEC) broke the scoring seal in the top of the eighth inning when Stein drove a 2-2 offering over the 375-foot mark in left-center for a leadoff dinger. His first home run of the season cut the Arkansas margin to 2-1.
Daniel Mengden was outstanding in 6.0 innings of work, but was left with no-decision. He matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts on the mound, yielding just one run on five hits and two walks. The loss was hung on Vinson (2-2) who yielded one run on two hits and one walk while striking out one in 1.1 innings.
Trey Killian was also left with no-decision despite an extraordinary start. He pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning, before Lankford rattled a hit into the corner down the rightfield line for a one-out double. He allowed one run on two hits while striking out seven over 8.0 innings. After the blown save, Gunn (3-0) earned the win, allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out one in 1.0 inning of work.
Three of the Aggies’ four hits went for extra bases. Lankford led the offense, going 2-for-4 with one double.
Eagan and Serrano each tallied two hits to lead the Razorbacks’ offense. Eagan went 2-for-3 with one walk, one sacrifice bunt, one stolen base, one home run, two runs and one RBI. Serrano went 2-for-5 with one RBI.
Arkansas and Texas A&M return to action on Saturday when the squads return to Baum Stadium for game two of the series at 6 pm.