CORVALLIS, Oregon – The Texas A&M Aggies staved off elimination with a 5-4 win over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in Corvallis Regional action of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships on Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium.
Rafael Pineda (6-5) earned the win, yielding four runs, three earned, on seven hits and one walk while striking out four over 6.2 innings. Jason Jester pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, to pick up his single-season school record 14th save of the year.
Mikey Reynolds accounted for three of the Aggies 10 hits, going 3-for-5 with one double and one stolen base. Seven other players each logged one hit for Texas A&M (34-28).
Reynolds sparked the Maroon and White offense from the get-go. For the second straight game he hit a leadoff single. After moving to third on an infield single by Blake Allemand, Reynolds scored on single back to the mound by Hunter Melton for the 1-0 lead.
The A&M lead ballooned to 4-0 in the third. Cole Lankford stroked a two-run double to the gap in right centerfield and Troy Stein plated a run with a single to rightfield.
UCSB (35-25) took advantage of an Aggie error to score a run in the sixth. Marc Venning hit a leadoff double and scored when Pineda’s throw to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Jackson Morrow bounced past Lankford at first base. With A&M up 4-1, Pineda sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around Morrow being caught trying to steal third to prevent further damage.
The Aggies manufactured a run in the top of the seventh to push the lead back to four runs. Krey Bratsen got a hustle double on a ball to left centerfield and stole third base. Jace Statum knocked him home with a sacrifice fly to give A&M a 5-1 cushion.
The Gauchos threatened to take their first lead of the game in the home half of the seventh. Woody Woodward doubled down the leftfield line and scored when Tyler Kuresa laced a single through the right side of the infield. The bases were cleared when Cameron Newell bounced a ball to Melton at third and Kuresa was deemed to have slid too far left of second base in an attempt to break up the double play. With the bases cleared and two outs, Robby Nesovic was hit by a pitch to breathe new life into the inning and Luke Swenson drew a six-pitch walk.
With two on and two out, Kyle Martin came in to relieve Pineda on the mound for A&M. He got a ground ball from Venning, but Reynolds didn’t have a play at any bag and the bases were loaded on the infield single. The Gauchos trimmed the lead to 5-4 when pinch-hitter Joe Winterburn drove a single up the middle to score two runs.
Jester came in and retired Joey Epperson on one pitch, a pop up to Allemand at second base, to end the inning.
Robby Nesovic (4-4) was saddled with the loss for the Gauchos. He allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out five over 6.1 innings.
Texas A&M returns to action at 7:05 pm Central on Sunday night when they play the host Oregon State Beavers. The Aggies need to win Sunday night and Monday afternoon to advance to the Super Regional. Oregon State needs to win just one of the two games.