COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Brigham Hill and Mark Ecker combined on a five-hit shutout as the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies won the series opener against No. 8 South Carolina, 3-0, Friday evening at Founders Park.
Coming on the heels of Kyle Simonds’ no-hitter last Saturday against Vanderbilt, Texas A&M recorded back-to-back shutouts in league play for the first time since 1990 when the Aggies blanked Texas Tech in consecutive Southwest Conference games.
Hill (6-1) scattered five hits and two walks while striking out six over 6.0 innings.
After Hill hit the leadoff batter in the seventh inning with the Aggies leading 1-0, Ecker entered to game to quell the rally. After a sacrifice bunt put the runner at second, Ecker fanned a pair to get out of the frame.
Ecker fanned six of the 10 batters he faced, allowing just one baserunner with a walk in 3.0 shutout innings to earn his fourth save of the season. Ecker moved into ninth place on Texas A&M’s career saves list with his 11th.
South Carolina (37-12, 16-8 SEC) was held to 2-17 hitting with runners on base, including 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
After six scoreless frames, the Aggies scratched out a run in the seventh. Ryne Birk slipped a leadoff single through the left side of the infield and Michael Barash was hit by a pitch when squaring up for a sacrifice bunt. Nick Banks followed with a bunt single to load the bases. When Joel Davis was unable to punch a ball past the pitcher, Birk was retired at home. Austin Homan followed with a grounder second and Barash came home to score when the Gamecocks couldn’t turn the double play.
Texas A&M (38-10, 17-8 SEC) added two more runs in the eighth. Nick Choruby took advantage of lax outfield play, legging out a double to left-center. With two outs, Choruby moved to third on a passed ball and after Birk was intentionally walked, reliever Tyler Johnson was summoned from the bullpen. Barash worked the count full and then roped a single to leftfield to plate Choruby. A wild pitch and a walk to Banks loaded the bases. Jonathan Moroney added an insurance run with a pinch-hit walk, staking the Aggies to a 3-0 lead.
For the second consecutive series opener, the Aggies out-dueled an SEC ace. Clarke Schmidt fell to 9-2 on the year as he allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four over 7.2 innings.
The Aggies and Gamecocks return to action with game two of the series Saturday at 6:30 pm from Founders Park. The game will air nationally on SEC Network.
Posted at 6:50 PM, May 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 19:50:22-04
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