HOOVER, Alabama – For the second time in two weeks, sophomore Brigham Hill stymied South Carolina hitters as he led the No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies to a 4-1 win over the No. 9 Gamecocks in an SEC Baseball Tournament elimination game Thursday morning at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Thirteen days after pitching 7.0 innings in the Aggies’ 3-0 shutout of the Gamecocks in Columbia, Hill (8-1) yielded just one unearned run on five hits and three walks while striking out eight in 7.0 innings to improve to 8-1 on the season. Hill, who was overlooked for all-league pitching honors, lowered his ERA to 1.88 on the year.
In his last three starts, Hill has allowed two runs, one earned, on 14 hits and six walks while striking out 22 in 20.0 innings. He is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA and .189 opponent batting average in the span that includes three wins over Top 10 opponents.
Mitchell Kilkenny and Mark Ecker retired all three batters they faced in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out the win. Ecker fanned two batters to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Jonathan Moroney continues to be in the groove for Texas A&M. He went 3-for-4 on the day with one run and one RBI. The senior is 10-for-18 (.556) with four runs, two doubles, one home run and seven RBI over the last five games.
Texas A&M (42-14) did most of their damage in the top of the second inning. Leadoff batter Ryne Birk started the rally by drawing a four-pitch walk and advancing to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Nick Banks singled through the left side of the infield to knock in Birk. Michael Barash slapped a double to left-center to plate Banks and Moroney capped off the rally with a single to rightfield, pushing Barash across for the 3-0 lead.
South Carolina (42-15) mustered their lone run in the bottom of the third. With one out, Gene Cone drew an eight-pitch walk. Marcus Mooney followed with a single to rightfield. With Cone charging to third base, Bank misplayed the ball allowing him to round the bag and head home. The Gamecocks would eventually get the tying run to second base in the inning, but first baseman Hunter Melton pounced on a Jonah Bride knock deep into the hole and wheeled to throw to Hill covering at the bag to end the inning and rob Bride of a two-run single.
The Aggies mounted a two-out rally in the ninth to tack on an insurance run. Moroney slapped a two-out single to left-center and chugged to third on a two-base throwing error by relief pitcher Josh Reagan on failed pickoff attempt. Homan bounced a single up the middle, plating Moroney for the 4-1 lead.
Banks closed out the contest with a web gem for the Aggies. After Ecker fanned the first two batters he faced in the ninth, T.J. Tolbert launched a ball toward rightfield where Banks made a leaping grab with his glove a foot over the wall for the end game.
Webb (10-5) was saddled with the loss for South Carolina. He allowed three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out eight in 6.2 innings.
Homan was 2-for-3 with one walk and one RBI.
Cone was the Gamecocks’ most effective hitter, going 1-for-2 with two walks and one run.
The Aggies return to action in elimination game Friday at 3 pm. Texas A&M plays the loser of Thursday’s game between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.