COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A day after coming back from a five-run deficit, the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies found a six-run hole too much to overcome, dropping an 8-7 decision to the South Carolina Gamecocks Sunday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Falling behind 8-2, Texas A&M (42-9, 17-9 SEC) had the potential tying run on second base in the eighth inning and third base in the ninth inning, but were unable to send home the equalizer.
Trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth, Nick Banks started the frame by rattling a ball in the corner down the rightfield line for a leadoff triple. Hunter Melton drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Nick Choruby knocked Banks home and sent Melton into scoring position with a grounder to second base. Logan Nottebrok hit a sharp grounder to third base for the second out of the inning, but Jonathan Moroney was hit by a pitch to put the go-ahead run on first base. Blake Allemand found himself behind in the count early as an outside pitch was deemed a strike and he fouled off the next pitch. After a pair of balls, Allemand swung and missed for strike three, ending the threat with South Carolina leading 8-7.
In the ninth, Ryne Birk poked a leadoff single through the right side and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell Nau. Logan Taylor put Birk 90 feet from home with a groundout to short. The game ended with the South Carolina leftfielder Clark Scolamiero catching a foul ball by Banks along the fence in leftield.
The Gamecocks drew first blood in the top of the first inning. Gene Cone slapped a leadoff single to centerfield and moved to second on a balk. South Carolina got runners on the corners when Blake Allemand was unable to handle a chopper to short and Kyle Martin followed by hitting a three-run home run to rightfield for the 3-0 lead. The Gamecocks nearly added a fourth run, but Alex Destino, who singled with one out, was unable to touch home before DC Arendas was thrown out at third, for the third out of the frame, trying to stretch a double.
Texas A&M shaved single runs off the lead in both the third and fourth innings. With one out in the third, Allemand hit a solo home run to rightfield. In the fourth inning, Nick Banks drew a walk and advanced two bases on wild pitches. Logan Nottebrok knocked him home with a grounder to short, trimming the advantage to 3-2.
After Brigham Hill put up three blank frames in relief, South Carolina was able to touch him up in the fifth. Max Schrock started inning with a gapper to right-center for a double and scored when Martin bounced a single up the middle. Martin moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Caldwell sent a single back up the middle, giving the Gamecocks a 5-2 lead.
Caldwell stole second base and advanced to third on a flyout to rightfield by Destino. The Aggies brought Turner Larkins in to relieve Hill and issued a five-pitch walk to Hunter Taylor to put runners on the corners. With Arendas batting, Larkins uncorked a wild pitch. Aggie catcher Nau scrambled to get the ball and fired to second base in attempt to retire Taylor. The throw was late, Caldwell rumbled home for the four-run lead. An RBI double by Mooney inflated the cushion to 7-2 before reliever Ty Schlottmann got the Aggies out of the frame.
South Carolina (30-22, 12-15 SEC) tacked on what would prove to be an important insurance run in the sixth. Cone walked and Schrock followed with an infield single. Martin grounded to second, but the Aggies weren't able to complete the double play, putting runners on the corners with one out. Andrew Vinson entered the contest and induced a fly ball to center by Caldwell with Cone coming home on the sacrifice for the 8-2 lead.
The Aggies brewed up trouble in the sixth. Logan Taylor started the inning with a single up the middle. After Banks struck out looking and Melton grounded out to third, GR Hinsley drew a pinch-hit walk. Choruby pinch-ran for Hinsley and was one of three players to score when Nottebrok hit a titanic blast to left-center for his sixth home run of the season. Texas A&M went back-to-back with Jonathan Moroney hit a first-pitch offering into the visitors bullpen for his first dinger of the season, cutting the lead to 8-6.
The loss was hung on Aggie starter Kyle Simonds (3-2) who lasted just 1.0 inning. He allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits while striking out one.
Overshadowed in the loss was a heroic relief effort by Vinson. The Aggie junior entered the contest with one out in the sixth and retired all 11 batters he faced, including four strikeouts, in 3.2 innings of work.
Josh Reagan (2-2) picked up the win for South Carolina, allowing four runs on three hits and one walk while striking out two in 3.1 innings. Starter Matthew Vogel handed a lead to the bullpen, yielding two runs on three hits and four walks while striking out one in 3.0 innings of work. Brandon Murray picked up his second save of the season, allowing one run on three hits and one walk while striking out two in 2.2 innings.
Nau was the lone Aggie to record multiple hits, going 2-for-4 and adding a sacrifice bunt. Nottebrok accounted for four of the Aggies' seven RBI.
South Carolina pounded out 12 hits on the day, including three doubles and one home run. Martin paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with one home run, two runs and four RBI. Schrock, Caldwell and Mooney each added two hits.
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies travel 55 miles to Huntsville for a 6:30 pm game at Sam Houston State.