COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Blake Allemand's walk-off, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth secured a 15-14 win for the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies over the South Carolina Gamecocks Saturday on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Texas A&M trailed 14-12 entering the bottom of the eighth, but A&M's Hunter Melton started the frame by belting his second home run of the contest, cutting the deficit to 14-13.
South Carolina (29-22, 11-15 SEC) responded by calling on closer Taylor Widener. Widener got JB Moss to hit a slicing fly ball down the rightfield line, but Elliott Caldwell was not able to come up with the diving catch, putting Moss on second with a double. Logan Nottebrok moved Moss to third with a slow roller to third base. GR Hinsley drew a pinch-hit walk to put runners on the corners and was replaced at first base by pinch-runner Nick Choruby. Allemand got ahead in the count 1-0 before driving a ball into the right-center gap, Moss scored the tying run easily and the mercurial Choruby flew home for the end game.
The Aggies found themselves playing catch-up most of the game, but were never able to bottle the momentum. The Maroon and White erased a five-run deficit early in the contest and a three-run gap in the middle innings, but held the lead just once at 6-5 after five innings. South Carolina's also owned a 13-9 lead going to the bottom of the seventh.
Texas A&M (42-8, 17-8 SEC) pounded out 15 hits, including 10 extra-base hits. Their five home runs tied a season-high, including two apiece by Ryne Birk and Hunter Melton. The Maroon and White added five doubles on the afternoon.
Three different Aggies amassed three hits. Birk went 3-for-5 with three runs, two home runs and four RBI. Allemand was 3-for-5 with one double, two runs and three RBI. Melton batted 3-for-5 with two home runs, three runs and three RBI. Nottebrok hit 2-for-4 with one double, one home run, two runs and two RBI.
The Gamecocks put on their own offensive displaying, logging 21 hits, including four home runs and three doubles. South Carolina had three players notch four hits apiece, including the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters. Batting eighth, Marcus Mooney went 4-for-4 with two walks, one double, two runs and one RBI. Batting ninth, Clark Scolamiero hit 4-for-5 with one double, one run and two RBI. Max Schrock batted 4-for-6 with one double, one run and one RBI. Elliott Caldwell and Alex Destino both scored three runs and Hunter Taylor tallied three RBI.
South Carolina was doomed by 14 stranded batters.
Gamecocks drew first blood in the top of the second inning. With one out, Marcus Mooney poked a single to centerfield and came around to score when Scolamiero gapped a double to right-center. Gene Cone followed with a four-pitch walk and Schrock bounced a single up the middle to plate Scolamiero, staking the Gamecocks to a 2-0 lead.
South Carolina used a pair of home runs to pad the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Schrock laced the first pitch of the inning up the middle for a single and stole second base. After Kyle Martin swung and missed at strike three for the first out of the inning, Caldwell drove an 0-2 pitch over the leftfield wall for a two-run home run. Destino went back-to-back with a shot over the rightfield fence, inflating the A&M cushion to 5-0.
The Aggies offered a response in the home half of the fourth inning. Mitchell Nau worked a five-pitch walk and Logan Taylor was hit by a pitch to start the frame. After Nick Banks flied to center for the first out of the inning, Melton punched a single to centerfield to knock in Nau. Moss plated Taylor with a sacrifice fly and Logan Nottebrok's two-run shot over the left-center fence cut the South Carolina lead to 5-4.
Texas A&M claimed its first advantage in the fifth. Allemand and Birk started the frame with singles to put runners at the corners and drive South Carolina starter Clarke Schmidt from the contest. After reliever Cody Mincey got Nau to swing and miss at strike three for the first out of the inning, Allemand scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Birk stole second base and came home to score the go-ahead run on Banks' double to right-center, giving A&M a 6-5 edge.
The Gamecocks immediately reclaimed the lead in the top of the sixth. With one out, Caldwell and Destino both singled through the left side of the infield. Hunter Taylor grounded out to first, but the Aggies' were unable to nail down the third out. A two-run single by DC Arendas handed the advantage back to South Carolina and runs scored on a Mooney double down the leftfield line and a Scolamiero single up the middle gave the Gamecocks a four-run frame and 9-6 cushion.
The Aggies rebounded for three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Moss drew a walk and Nottebrok was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Michael Barash pushed both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Allemand's sacrifice fly, trimmed the margin to 9-7 and reliever Mincey exited the game. Birk would be the only batter Vince Fiori would face, giving him a rude greeting with a two-run tater over the right-center fence, knotting the game at 9-9.
South Carolina made it back-to-back four run frames to wrestle the lead back, 13-9 in the seventh. Kyle Martin started the inning with a solo home run off Matt Kent, for the 10-9 lead. Jason Freeman was unable to retire a batter in relief. Caldwell reached on a throwing error by Allemand and Destino followed with a single to centerfield. Taylor's titanic three-run shot appeared to be a death blow for the Gamecocks, giving them a four-run cushion.
Reliever Blake Koeptsky got the Aggies out of the frame without further damage and handed the game back to the Maroon and White offense. Melton hit a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 13-10.
Kopetsky and Corbin Martin worked around a double and walk to keep South Carolina off the board in the eighth and the A&M offense responded with two runs in the home half. With one out, Allemand singled up the middle and Birk launched a two-run home run into the visitor's bullpen to close the chasm to 13-12. Mitchell Nau followed with a double down the leftfield line, but a grounder to short by Logan Taylor and a fly out to leftfield by Banks ended the inning.
South Carolina tacked on an insurance run in the ninth with a run scoring on a passed ball. The Aggies avoided further dame in the frame when relief catcher Nau gunned down Mooney trying to steal third for the second out of the inning.
Texas A&M's pitching staff weathered a rough outing. South Carolina's 14 runs, 21 hits and four home runs were all the most relinquished by the Aggies in 2015.
The starting pitchers did not factor in the final decision. Texas A&M's Ryan Hendrix yielded five runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out seven in 3.1 innings. South Carolina's Schmidt allowed six runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four in 4.0 innings.
Martin (2-0) was credited with the win. He allowed one unearned run on one hit and two walks while striking out one in 1.2 innings. Kopetsky worked a scoreless frame scattering two hits and one walk while striking out two.
Widener (1-4) was saddled with the loss, surrendering the final two runs on two hits and one walk in 0.1 inning.
The series wraps up with a rubber match Sunday with a 1:05 pm. First pitch on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.