CORVALLIS, Oregon – After staving off elimination twice, the Texas A&M Aggies were unable to keep the 2013 campaign alive, losing a 6-1 decision to the host Oregon State Beavers at the Corvallis Regional of the NCAA Division I Championship.
The Aggies season ends with a 34-29 mark. A&M advanced to the NCAA Championship for a school-record seventh consecutive season.
Texas A&M kept the 3,362 in attendance at Goss Stadium quiet early by staking claim to a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the first, but the Beavers tied the game with a run in the fifth, tallied two in the seventh to wrestle the lead away and tacked on three in the ninth.
Grayson Long allowed one unearned run on six hits and two walks while striking out three over 5.2 innings. Jason Jester (3-4) was saddled with the loss. He allowed two runs on four hits and two strikeouts over 2.1 innings.
Ben Wetzler (8-1) earned the victory with a complete-game effort. He allowed one run on four hits and four walks while striking out 10.
Jonathan Moroney had two of the Aggies’ four hits on the evening. The freshman was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Ryan Barnes led all players with three hits, going 3-for-5 with one RBI. Danny Hayes, Michael Conforto, Tyler Smith and Jake Rodriguez had two hits apiece. Hayes was 2-for-5 with one double, one run and three RBI. Conforto went 2-for-5 with one double and one run. Smith hit 2-for-5 with two runs. Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with two walks.
The Aggies drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. Mikey Reynolds drew an eight-pitch walk to start the inning and stole second base. After Blake Allemand struck out looking, Cole Lankford drove a ball past a falling leftfielder for an RBI triple and the 1-0 lead. Lankford was unable to score from third, getting retired after a rundown on a Hunter Melton grounder.
Long played with fire in the second inning as Oregon State loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, but he induced a fly out to rightfield by Max Gordon to end the frame.
Moroney got his first double in the bottom of the second inning, but Krey Bratsen struck out looking and Jace Statum flied out to centerfield to quell the rally.
The Beavers tied the game in the top of the fifth. Rodriguez laced a single through the left side of the infield to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gordon. Tyler Smith seemed to deliver the equalizer when he singled through the right side of the infield, but Statum gunned Gordon out at the plate for the second out of the inning. Andy Peterson was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. The Aggies appeared to evade danger again when Conforto grounded to Reynolds at short, but an error on his throw allowed Smith to score, knotting the game at 1-1.
Moroney gave A&M an opportunity to deliver an immediate response in the bottom of the sixth, but the Aggies failed to capitalize. Moroney dropped a leadoff double in front of a diving Gordon in centerfield and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but he was stranded on the hot corner when Statum struck out looking and Gordon redeemed himself by making a diving catch running towards the fence to rob Reynolds of an extra-base hit.
Oregon State (48-10) brewed up trouble in the top of the sixth with a one-out single by Barnes and a two-out walk by Rodriguez, but Matt Kent got Gordon to fly out to end the inning with the game still on an even keel.
After failing to score in the bottom of the sixth despite drawing a pair of walks, the Aggies called on Jester, who earned his school-record 14th save of the season in A&M’s 5-4 win over UC Santa Barbara earlier in the day. Smith greeted him with a single up the middle and a miscommunication on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Peterson resulted in a single to put two runners on. Jester fanned Conforto for the first out and got Davis to line out to short for the second. Hayes provided heroics for Oregon State driving a full-count offering past a diving Lankford and down the rightfield line for a two-run double and the 3-1 lead.
Texas A&M got two runners on base in the seventh as Statum singled to short with two outs and Reynolds drew a walk, but Beavers’ catcher Rodriguez was able to keep a full-count offering from hitting the dirt and Allemand was called out on strikes, looking.
Oregon State put the game out of reach with three runs in the ninth. The inning featured consecutive RBI singles by Hayes, Barnes and Kavin Keyes.
Cole Lankford (1B), Hunter Melton (3B) and Mikey Reynolds (SS) were all named to the 2013 NCAA Corvallis Region All-Regional Team.