AUBURN, Alabama – The No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies exploded for eight runs in the top of the fourth inning and fought off a hard-charging Auburn Tigers the rest of the game to take a 12-10 decision in the rubber match Sunday at Plainsman Park.
With the win, the Aggies improved to 18-2 on the season and 2-1 in the SEC.
Trailing 3-1, the Maroon and White sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth inning. The rally started with a leadoff single by Boomer White and a double to centerfield by Hunter Melton to put two runners in scoring position. An infield single by Nick Banks knocked in White to cut the lead to 3-2. Michael Barash was robbed of an extra-base hit when his bouncer down the third base line hit the bag and popped straight up in the air. He still got a single, to tie the game at 3-3.
Joel Davis put down a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position and singles by Nick Choruby and George Janca gave A&M a 5-3 lead, driving starter Auburn starter Cole Lipscomb from the game. With Andrew Mitchell on to pitch the Aggies continued the rally with an RBI single by J.B. Moss, a two-run double by White and an RBI single by Banks for the 9-3 lead.
Auburn (10-10, 1-2 SEC) started to shave off the lead in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Cody Nulph deposited a double down the leftfield line and moved to third on a wild pitch. After Anfernee Grier drew a five-pitch walk, Joshua Palacios tripled down the rightfield line, plating two to cut the Aggie advantage to 9-5.
The Tigers continued to trim the fat off the lead with a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth. Niko Buentello and Robert both hit home runs to centerfield to narrow the gap to 9-7.
The Aggies created much-needed breathing room in the top of the eighth inning. Choruby started the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Janca. Moss followed with a triple off the top of the wall in centerfield to send Choruby home. Birk delivered an RBI triple of his own, blasting a ball past a diving centerfielder to plate Moss. White capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to leftfield, inflating the cushion to 12-7.
The ever resilient Tigers continued plowing forward in the eighth. Jackson Burgreen was hit by the first pitch of the frame and a defensive miscommunication allowed Robert to reach on a single with a slow roller down the first base line. Choruby came up huge for the Aggies with a diving catch on a soft liner to shallow center by Blake Logan for the first out of the inning. Kyler Deese doubled down the rightfield line to drive in two runs and cut the lead to 12-9, but Deese was gunned down at third by Janca trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
For the third time on the weekend, the Aggies took the early lead by scoring in the top of the first. J.B. Moss accounted for the lid lifter in all three games, this time driving a full-count offering over the xx-high wall in leftfield for a lead-off home run, his third tater on the year.
Auburn wrangled the lead for the Aggies in the bottom of the third. Blake Logan started the frame by ricocheting a ball off Aggie pitcher Kyle Simonds for a single. Deese followed by threading a single through the right side of the infield. After Nulph flied out for the first out of the inning, Grier hit a shot over the leftfield fence for a three-run home run.
Simonds (4-0) got the win on the mound for the Aggies. He labored through 5.1 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six. Ryan Hendrix earned his fourth save of the season, allowing one unearned run on one hit with two strikeouts in 1.0 inning.
Lipscomb (1-2) was saddled with the loss. He allowed seven runs on seven hits while striking out four in 3.1 innings.
The Aggies pounded out 16 hits on the afternoon with Moss, Barash and Choruby logging three apiece. Moss went 3-for-6 with one triple, one home run , three runs and three RBI. White went 2-for-4 with one double, two runs and three RBI.
Buentello, Robert and Deese each had two this for the Tigers.
Texas A&M returns to action Tuesday when the Aggies host the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in a 6:30 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
On the series…
“I’m really proud of team going on the road and finding a way to win the series. Any time you do that in the SEC it’s certainly an accomplishment. I’m proud of us fighting back every time we needed a response today. I was proud of what we did all week to produce offensively and today we did enough on the mound to get the series win.”
On the eight-run fourth inning…
“It was huge. We had just given up a three-run home run so Auburn had the momentum. We sent 13 guys to the plate and a think we had 12 really good at-bats. That was a really good time to have what I think was our best offensive inning of the season. I think the three runs in the eighth were just as big in helping close out the game because Auburn wasn’t going away.