Late Rally Falls Short in 7-4 Loss to Alabama

Posted at 11:37 AM, Apr 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-24 12:37:48-04

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies found themselves in a hole too big to climb out of as they dropped a 7-4 decision to the Alabama Crimson Tide despite a furious ninth-inning rally Saturday afternoon on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

The loss snapped Texas A&M’s win streak at nine games. The Aggies will enter the final game of the series with a one game lead in the SEC Western Division standings, with the winner of Saturday evening’s Mississippi State-LSU contest sitting in second place.

Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Aggies mounted a late charge. Ronnie Gideon drew a four-pitch walk off reliever Sam Finnerty and J.B. Moss followed with a single to left-center. Nick Banks drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases, forcing Alabama to call on closer Thomas Burrows.

Boomer White broke the scoring seal for the Aggies, with a grounder to short, scoring Gideon. With the run, the Aggies avoided their first shutout since May 20, 2014. Hunter Melton followed with a single to centerfield to knock in Moss and put runners on the corners. Ryne Birk struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, but Michael Barash breathed new life into the inning, slapping a two-run single to leftfield, cutting the lead to 7-4. Burrows finally quelled the rally by inducing a groundout to second base by pinch-hitter Jonathan Moroney.

Alabama (24-16, 9-8 SEC) took advantage of an A&M error to draw first blood in the second. With two outs, Cody Henry was able to chop a single under the glove of Aggie starter Jace Vines for an infield single. Keith Holcombe followed with an infield single to put two runners on. Will Haynie followed with a ball deep into the hole on the left side for an infield single and Henry came around to score when shortstop Austin Homan’s throw to first got away from Melton.

The Crimson Tide tacked on a run in the fourth. With one out, Chance Vincent threaded a single through the left side and Henry followed by lofting a high double over the head of centerfielder Nick Choruby to stake Alabama to a 2-0 cushion.

The lead ballooned to 5-0 with a three-run sixth. With one out, Vincent doubled to centerfield and Henry followed with an RBI double to left-center. Mitchell Kilkenny entered the game to relieve Vines and hit the first batter he faced, Holcombe, with a pitch. Haynie struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, but Hunter Webb drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases. Ty Schlottmann came on to spell Kilkenny and on his second pitch he uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Henry to score and catcher Barash’s throw to the plate was errant allowing Holcombe to cross, inflating the cushion to 5-0.

Alabama tacked on what proved to be two important insurance runs in the top of the ninth when Chandler Taylor hit a two-run home run, his second dinger of the series.

The Aggies started the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they were doomed by 12 runners left on base.

Texas A&M (31-8, 11-6 SEC) loaded the bases in the second with no outs, but a shallow fly ball, grounder to third and a strikeout ended the frame with nothing to show for it. The Aggies loaded the bases again in the fifth. This time they just had one chance to push runs across, but it looked like that was enough. Unfortunately for the Maroon and White, second baseman Cobie Vance was shifted well towards the bag and was able to make a diving effort to pounce on Birk’s sharply hit ball on the middle, tossing to first for the final out of the frame.

Vines (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season, succumbing to four runs, three earned, on 10 hits while striking out five.

Jake Walters (4-3) was effectively wild through 5.2 innings of scoreless ball. He was able to tip-toe through five hits and six walks while striking out one.

Texas A&M was held without an extra-base hit for the first time on the season. Melton led the Aggies at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two walks, one run and one RBI. Moss batted 2-for-5 with one run.

Alabama grinded out 13 hits, including four doubles and one home run. The Tide’s 5-7 hitters went 8-for-15 with five runs, four doubles, one home run and four RBI. Taylor was 2-for-5 with one double, one home run, one run and two RBI. Vincent batted 3-for-5 with one double and two runs. Henry hit 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and two RBI.

The rubber match of the series is slated for 1:04 pm on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.