HOUSTON, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies kept their season alive with a 7-3 win over the George Mason Patriots in an elimination game at the NCAA Houston Regional at Reckling Park.
Texas A&M pounded out 16 hits in the win. Krey Bratsen spearheaded the arsenal, going 4-for-4 with one double, one run and one RBI. With the game, Bratsen became the Aggies’ all-time leader in games played with 242, passing Scott Livingstone’s mark of 241 set from 1985-88.
Blake Allemand went 3-for-5 with one double and one run. Cole Lankford, Logan Nottebrok and Troy Stein each added two hits. Stein extended his season-long hit streak to eight games.
The Aggies pounced on the Patriots for three runs in the top of the first inning. Allemand sparked the rally, driving a double to rightfield. Ryne Birk broke the scoring seal, snaking a single through the right side of the infield to plate Allemand. Lankford poked a single to rightfield and the throw home allowed him to advance, putting two in scoring position. Nottebrok knocked in Birk with a grounder to shortstop and with two outs, Stein golfed a single to shallow centerfield to score Lankford for the 3-0 advantage.
Texas A&M added a run in the third. With one out, Nottebrok legged out an infield single to shortstop. Banks hit a fielder’s choice grounder to the first baseman and replaced Nottebrok on the base paths. Banks stole second base and came around to score when Stein drove a wall-banger to leftfield for a double and the 4-0 edge.
The Patriots got on the scoreboard in the home half of the first inning. Luke Willis reached an infield single to start the inning. After Brandon Gum drew a walk, A&M starter Grayson Long uncorked a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position. Blaise Fernandez poked a single into shallow left-center to drive in Willis, cutting the lead to 4-1. Aggie second baseman Patrick McLendon prevented further damage, lunging up the middle to snare a line drive by Tucker Tobin, starting a double play. Long induced a pop fly by Chris Cook to end the frame.
George Mason (34-22) mounted another rally in the bottom of the fifth inning. Gum slapped a leadoff single to shallow centerfield and with one out Tobin bounced a single up the middle. Cook hit a single just out of the reach of a diving McLendon to knock in Gum and cut the A&M lead to 4-2.
The Maroon and White pushed the lead back to three runs in the top of the seventh. With one out, Lankford sliced a double to the warning track down the leftfield line. Nottebrok followed by driving a single up the middle to push Lankford across, pushing the margin to 5-2 for the Aggies.
George Mason pushed a bill through in the home half of the seventh. With two outs, Cook singled to center and Josh Leemhuis roped a single to rightfield to put runners on the corners. Anthony Montefusco hit a chopper off the glove of A&M reliever Corey Ray for an infield single, scoring cut to clip the advantage to 5-3.
The Aggies posted two insurance runs in the eighth. McLendon reached on a leadoff single and scored on a double down the leftfield line by Bratsen. Birk capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to push Bratsen home for the 7-3 lead.
The Patriots were paced by Cook who went 4-for-5 with one run and one RBI. Fernandez and Leemhuis each logged two hits as every George Mason starter record a hit.
Long did not figure in the decision for the Aggies. He allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three in 4.1 innings. Corey Ray (6-0) earned the win, yielding just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out two in 3.2 innings. AJ Minter worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.
George Mason starter Montefusco (9-4) surrendered four runs on 11 hits while striking out one over 5.2 innings.
Texas A&M returns to action at 3 pm on Sunday at Reckling Park when the Aggies will play the loser of Saturday evening’s Rice-Texas game in an elimination game.