COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies pounded out a season-high 22 hits, including two home runs and three doubles, to post a 20-2 win over the Abilene Christian Wildcats on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Wednesday evening.
Ryne Birk led the hit parade, going 4-for-5 with one double, one home run, four runs and three RBI. Logan Nottebrok went 3-for-4 with one home run, three runs and four RBI. Cole Lankford batted 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Logan Taylor added three hits, including a double, and three RBI.
The Aggies drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Lankford drove a single into the gap in right-center and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Nick Banks drew a six-pitch walk, Nottebrok snaked a single through the right side of the infield and Lankford eluded a tag from Wildcat catcher Seth Spivey at the plate for the 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M (23-15) took advantage of an Abilene Christian error to score three runs in the bottom of the second. With one out, Birk poked single into right-center and the Aggies got a second runner aboard when ACU third baseman Brandon Grudzielanek fielded a grounder but dropped the ball before making the throw to first for an error. After Jace Statum flied to centerfield for the second out of the inning, Blake Allemand, Taylor and Lankford strung together consecutive RBI singles to inflate the Aggie cushion to 4-0.
The Maroon and White padded the lead again in the third when Birk launched a 2-1 offering over the rightfield fence for a two-out, solo dinger, the first home run of his career, to stake A&M to a 5-0 lead.
The Aggies pushed the lead to 11-0 with a six-run fourth inning. The scoring started with an RBI double by Taylor. Lankford followed with an RBI single and Stein plated two with a single up the middle. Krey Bratsen gave A&M a double-digit lead with a run scoring grounder and Jace Statum capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI double down the leftfield line for the 11-0 margin.
The cavalcade of runs continued into the fifth inning as Logan Nottebrok deposited a full-count offering into Aggie Alley for a two-run home run, his fifth of the season, to inflate the cushion to 13-0.
After threatening on a couple occasions, Abilene Christian (12-21) finally broke the scoring seal in the top of the sixth. With one out, Russell Crippen drew a five-pitch walk from reliever Ryan Hendrix and moved to second base on a passed ball. Emil Litterer threaded a 1-1 pitch down the leftfield line for a double to plate Crippen and cut the Aggie lead to 13-1.
A&M built an unassailable, 20-1, lead with a seven-run seventh inning. The Aggies flew around the base paths like an untethered tetherball in the inning, sending 13 batters to the plate. The seven-hit frame was highlighted by a two-run double by Ryne Birk and RBI singles by Bratsen, Moroney and Taylor.
Corey Ray (3-0) picked up the win for the Aggies. He weaved 5.0 scoreless innings, scattering four hits and one walk while striking out five.
The loss was hung on Ladgie Zotyka (0-1) who yielded four runs, one earned, on six hits and one walk while striking out two over 1.2 innings.
Seth Spivey was the lone Wildcat to log multiple hits, going 2-for-4 on the day.
Texas A&M returns to action on Friday as the Aggies host the Kentucky Wildcats for a three-game SEC series on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On the offensive output…
“I was really proud of what we did tonight from an offensive standpoint. I think we scored eight 2-out runs, and a lot of those were early. We got a lot of big 2-out hits. Corey Ray got us off to a good start. I thought our guys played well from start to finish.”
On Corey Ray’s performance…
“We haven’t had good Tuesday starts the last couple weeks, and for him to get us off to a good start was really important. Then we were able to get some other guys some work that hadn’t gotten some work in a while. I think the thing I’m most impressed with was just our approach tonight. We face a lot of different pitchers, and it would’ve been easy for us to get long and try to lift. I thought we stayed flat, stayed in the middle of the field and were very competitive all night.”
Junior Relief Pitcher Corey Ray
On his approach at the mound…
“I just went out there throwing strikes, and let my defense work. We’ve been playing really well this last week. We brought that momentum out here, and just threw strikes to compete for the team.”
On controlling the opposing team…
“We stuck to our gameplan. Coach Childress called a great game today and Troy caught a great game today, so it made it pretty easy.”
On what the team can take away from the game…
“We’ve built a lot of momentum from the past week. So just continue to build on that. Momentum is key in a lot of things.
Freshman Infielder Ryne Birk
On the team's performance...
"It's always good to have a good night and help the team win. It's good to keep the streak going. It feels great."
On the offensive approach...
"I think we have a great approach. If we keep it up, we can play with anyone in the country."
On pounding out 22 hits...
"It's fun to see the other guys hitting. You go up there just trying to keep the line rolling. It was a great night for everybody."
On hitting his first collegiate home run...
"It was a great feeling for sure. It was awesome. The team went crazy in the dugout for me. It was a special moment."