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Aggies Win Series Finale at Georgia, 9-5

March 30, 2014
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Courtesy: John Kelley
(photo: John Kelley)

ATHENS, Georgia – The Texas A&M Aggies used a pair of late-inning rallies to stage a come-from-behind win, 9-5, in the series finale against the Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at Foley Field.

Trailing 5-4 in the eighth, Krey Bratsen sparked an A&M rally with a seven-pitch walk off of Bulldog reliever Ross Ripple. Jordan Cheek, who earned the win in relief for Georgia on Friday, came in to face Patrick McLendon. He yielded a single in the gap in left-center to put runners on the corners and Blake Allemand pushed the equalizer across, flaring a single into centerfield.

Pete Nagel came in to spell Cheek and immediately pushed runners into scoring position with a wild pitch. After Cole Lankford grounded out to the Nagel for the first out of the inning, Mitchell Nau was intentionally walked to load the bases. Hunter Melton slapped a single into centerfield to plate McLendon with the go-ahead run, but Georgia prevented further damage throwing Allemand out at the plate on Melton’s hit and getting Nick Banks to ground out to second to end the frame.

Texas A&M (18-11, 4-5 SEC) tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth. Jonathan Moroney hit a one-out double and Bratsen singled to second base to put runners on the corners. After McLendon struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, Bratsen stole second base and Allemand roped a single to right-center to drive in both runners for the 8-5 lead. Allemand moved to third when Georgia catcher Brandon Stephens attempted to pick him off at first and hurled the ball down the leftfield line. Lankford capped off the cavalcade of runs with a single through the left side of the infield to plate Allemand.

For the third time in the series, Georgia tallied a run in the first inning. Jared Walsh gapped a leadoff single to left-center and remained at first as the next two batters flied out. The first baseman advanced to second when Aggie starter Tyler Stubblefield was deemed to have balked on what would have been a swinging strike three by Nelson Ward to end the frame. With new life, Ward made the Aggies pay for the balk depositing a double down the leftfield line to plate Walsh for the 1-0 lead.

The Bulldogs added a run in the bottom of the second. With one out, Stephen Wrenn gapped a single to right-center. He stole second base and advanced to third as Aggie catcher Nau’s throw to second deflected off his back into right-center. Wrenn came home when Stubblefield uncorked a wild pitch to give Georgia a 2-0 advantage.

The Aggies staked claim to their first lead of the weekend with a three-run third inning. Georgia starter Patrick Boling had trouble finding the strike zone, walking Bratsen, McLendon and Allemand to start the inning. After Lankford popped out to the third baseman, Nau put the Aggies on the board hitting a slow roller to third base for the fielder’s choice grounder with Allemand retired at second. After Melton was walked to fill the bags with Ags, David Sosebee was brought in from the Georgia bullpen. He was touched up for the go-ahead run when Banks lashed a single into centerfield, scoring Nau and McLendon for the 3-2 advantage.

Georgia (16-12-1, 3-5-1 SEC) kept their picket fence going on the scoreboard with another single run in the bottom of the third, tying the game at 3-3. Conor Welton reached on an infield single to second, moved to second on Ward’s groundout to second base and scored on a throwing error by A&M shortstop Logan Taylor on what would’ve been the last out of the inning.

Texas A&M reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth inning. Nau reached on a leadoff single to centerfield and moved to second with one out when Banks poked a single through the left side of the infield. Taylor followed with a single off the glove of a diving Georgia shortstop to score Nau for the 4-3 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Georgia once again responded immediately to Aggie rally with one of their own. After Ray struck out Ward and Bowers to start the inning, Stephens roped a double down the leftfield line and came around to score the equalizer when Wrenn bounced a single up the middle, knotting the score at 4-4.

Georgia was poised for the sweep when they hung a run on the board in the bottom of the seventh. Welton hit a double off Ray to the gap in left-center to start the inning. Ward and Jess Posey drew walks to load the bases, chasing Ray from the contest. Andrew Vinson got Stephens to whiff on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Wrenn hit a grounder to shortstop, but it was too slow for the Aggies to turn the double play and Welton scored, giving the Bulldogs the 5-4 lead. Vinson got Skyler Webber to fan on a 2-2 pitch to get out of the inning without further damage.

The Aggies pounded out 16 hits in the win led by McLendon, Walsh and Banks with three apiece. McLendon went 3-for-4 with two walks and two runs. Allemand was 3-for-3 with two sacrifice bunts, one walk, one run and three RBI. Banks went 3-for-6 with one double and two RBI. Bratsen led the squad with three runs, going 1-for-3 with two walks and one stolen base.

Walsh and Wrenn had two hits apiece for Georgia who registered 10 on the day.

The starting pitchers did not figure in the final decision. Stubblefield worked 3.1 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on seven hits and one walk while striking out three for Texas A&M.

Andrew Vinson (1-1) earned the win in relief retiring all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, including two strikeouts. AJ Minter retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth before yielding a walk, giving way to Jason Jester. Jester got pinch-hitter Sean McLaughlin to ground out to second base to end the game.

Cheek (4-3) was saddled with the loss for Georgia. He allowed one run, allowing both batters he faced to reach on hits.

The Aggies open up a five-game home stand on Tuesday when they host the Houston Cougars in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. To learn more about the team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @Aggie_Baseball on Twitter.

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