COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies rode a four-run second inning to a 5-4 win over the Florida Gators on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on Olsen Field Blue Bell Park in front of 5,726 fans. The Aggies improve to 16-8 and 2-3 in SEC play while the Gators fall to 15-8 and 3-2 in conference action.
A&M starter Grayson Long (3-0) earned the victory, allowing four runs on nine hits while walking two and striking out four over 5.2 innings. Reliever Andrew Vinson retired seven-of-eight batters faced, but allowed two inherited runners to score on the first batter he faced. Jason Jester retired all three batters faced for his third save of the season. Logan Nottebrok notched two hits with a double and a run scored in the victory.
The Aggies drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning. Mitchell Nau started the frame by bouncing a single up the middle and Nottebrok followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Nau was retired at third when Blake Allemand was unsuccessful on a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Jonathan Moroney dropped a single into centerfield to fill the bags with Ags. Logan Taylor drove Nottebrok with a groundout to second to break the scoring seal. Jace Statum plated a pair with a single to centerfield and moved to second on a throwing error by centerfielder Harrison Bader. Nick Banks capped off the cavalcade of runs, sending a single back up the middle to knock in Statum for the 4-0 margin.
The Gators trimmed the lead to 4-1 in the top of the third inning. Richie Martin gapped a single to right centerfield to start inning and Casey Turgeon followed with a single through the right side to put runners on the corners. Nick Banks saved some runs when he dove to snare a fly ball by Bader, but Martin came home on the sacrifice fly. Long worked out of further damage by striking out Peter Alonso, looking and getting Braden Mattson to pop up back to the mound off the knob of his bat.
The Aggies would tack on an additional run in the bottom of the fourth. Taylor led off the frame with a double to left-center and advanced to third on a groundout back to the pitcher before scoring on a wild pitch by Hanhold.
Florida wasted no time in responding to the Maroon and White’s run, cutting into the lead in the top of the fifth. Richie Martin led off the inning with a bunt single before Turgeon drove a single into right field. Long induced a 4-6-3 double play, but Taylor Gushue notched a ground-rule double over the short fence in right, scoring the run from third.
The Gators narrowed the gap to a one-run affair in the sixth. Josh Tobias and Buddy Reed singled and doubled, respectively, with two outs to chase Long from the game. Martin drove a 1-1 pitch back up the middle off reliever Andrew Vinson to plate both runs. The right-hander got a groundout to second to stop the bleeding.
Florida starter Eric Hanhold (3-2) took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on eight hits while striking out one over 4.0 innings. Brett Morales worked 4.0 scoreless innings in relief, striking out one with the only runner reaching via an error.
Martin paced the Gators from the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a stolen base.
Texas A&M wraps up action against the Gators tomorrow at 1:05 at Blue Bell Park. To learn more about the team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @Aggie_Baseball on Twitter.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
“They (Florida) are a fist fight; they’re a backyard brawl. They are a tough team. It’s about making pitches, making plays, and getting timely hits. I was proud of our team for answering back today after last night’s tough loss.”
On the bullpen…
“Andrew Vinson was fantastic those two innings. We have to do better at getting that first hitter that we face when we go to the bullpen, and Vinny knows that. Beyond that hitter he was awesome. JJ (Jason Jester) was fantastic today on no days rest. Grayson probably wasn’t as sharp as he has been all year long from a command stand point, but he competed his tail off and got us deep in the game.”
Sophomore Starting Pitcher Grayson Long
On his start…
“Definitely not my best start. I had no control over anything in the first few innings. I was flying open a little bit and I couldn’t seem to fix it. A big thing Coach Childress is preaching this year is compete. That’s something I kept telling myself, ‘You have to compete right here. You can’t let this run score. You can’t walk this guy.’”
On using his experience…
I try not to let the games play me. I try to play the games. Having experience from last year and starts from this year is really helping me out.
Junior Designated Hitter Logan Nottebrok
On the team’s performance…
“That was a tough ballgame. They are a great team. As a team, we needed a win like that. Last night was a heartbreaker, after you pour all your emotions into those 11 innings and you don’t come out on top. Today, we score four in the bottom of the second and then they come back and answer. In the ninth inning, you are saying, ‘Let’s get these three outs and go home.’ As a team, there is nothing better than having one of the best closers in the game come out and shut the ballgame down.”
On his performance…
“I hurt my wrist a couple weeks ago. I got a couple at-bats early in the week and I wasn’t feeling comfortable. Today, they gave me a chance again. Personally, there is no better feeling than that—trusting in all the hard work you put in. I only got two hits today, but two is better than none.”
Senior Closer Jason Jester
On his performance…
“Honestly, I felt a little better today than I did yesterday. I thought the slider worked good on the righties, and I had a good spot to throw a couple change ups to a lefty. A big team win, but hats off to the offense for getting us in that position and playing good defense.”
On pitching with no days rest.
“It’s about going out there, pulling your hat down and getting it done. Like I said yesterday, I wanted the ball today. I’m glad those guys trust me to still put the ball in my hands to go do what I can do. I’m proud of the guys."