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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies drop pair of games to No. 1 Arkansas

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Senior pitcher Bryce Miller will return from COVID-19 protocol to lead the Aggies in a three-game series against Alabama beginning on Friday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. 

Game One
Texas A&M baseball got a late start to its date with the No. 1 Arkansas after Friday’s Game 1 was pushed to Saturday afternoon as part one of a doubleheader. The Razorbacks entered the series winners in eight of their last 10 games and recorded a staggering 56 runs in their last three games. They previously played a two-game set against Arkansas-Pine Bluff this past week and won 12-4, and 26-1 after putting up 18 runs in Game 3 against then-No. 3 Ole Miss on April 11.
Meanwhile, A&M looked to get a win streak going after breaking a six-game skid on Tuesday against Texas State. The Aggies’ senior ace Dustin Saenz was on the mound for the first time in eight days after a loss to Alabama in which he gave up four runs but struck out nine. Entering the series Saenz owned the fifth most punchouts in Division I with 69 as the maroon and white’s pitching staff sat at No. 7 in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.5.
The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first with a no-out two-RBI double from junior Brady Slavens. Fortunately Saenz worked around that and managed to not allow another run in the inning. However Arkansas jumped right back onto him and hit a pair of two-out home runs to make it 5-0 before the game could reach the third inning. Slavens scored two with his blast down the right field line to log four RBIs in his first two at-bats of the game.
Patrick Wicklander was the Arkansas starter, and the southpaw was almost unhittable in the 4.2 innings he tossed before being relieved. He hadn’t appeared in a game since a month ago against Oklahoma but carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning which was broken up thanks to a Logan Sartori double.
Saenz worked through the third and fourth innings without allowing any runs and nearly got through the fifth, but a sac fly scored Arkansas’ sixth run of the day with the game heading into the sixth inning. Chris Weber took over on the mound for him and struck out the first man he faced, but then allowed two singles, a walk and a bases-loaded double that cleared the bags in part because of an error in the outfield which made it 9-0.
The Razorbacks continued to pour it on in the seventh with their third home run and a run-scoring single to give them a dozen-run lead as A&M entered the eighth inning with still one hit to show for. Arkansas went on to bring one more man home in the eighth inning as they totaled 13 hits and had men reach base safely 20 times over the course of game one. A&M was limited to seven baserunners and three hits by the Razorback pitching staff as the final score read 13-0.
Game Two
For Game 2, the Aggies sent out Bryce Miller to take his shot at limiting the Arkansas offense. The Game 1 win was the Razorbacks’ fifth double-digit performance over their last seven, as Miller himself struggled in his return to the mound on April 10 which came after a 22-day hiatus due to COVID-19 protocols.
After his rough return, teammate Mason Ornelas guaranteed Miller would bounce back in his next start.
“I believe the time off can do something, but Bryce is a top-tier pitcher and he’s going to bounce back next week,” Ornelas said. “We know that for a fact.”
Miller did just that by going six innings, his second longest start of the year, and held the best team in the country to two hits and one run while striking out an even ten. He did walk five, but he pitched around those so well that they didn’t matter all that much in the end.
His one mistake came in the first inning when Matt Goodheart hit a solo shot out over the fence in right center to give Arkansas an early lead. From there Miller was lights out though as the A&M offense was struggling to string hits together to start a rally.
But the Aggies finally retaliated and got on the scoreboard for the first time all day in the top of the seventh when Brett Minnich hit a solo shot of his own on an 0-2 count to tie up the ballgame with the Arkansas offense stymied by Miller and Chandler Jozwiak. Over his last five games at the plate Minnich is hitting just under .300 with a homer, and two RBIs to his name.
Jozwiak took the bump in the seventh frame and allowed a leadoff single but got a strikeout and induced a double play as the score remained tied entering the eighth inning.
A&M had a shot to go ahead in the top of the eighth when Kalae Harrison drew a walk, which was followed by a Ray Alejo single into centerfield to put men on first and second with one out. But Arkansas was able to skirt the damage after Kevin Kopps got A&M slugger Will Frizzell to ground into a double play to end the inning and keep the score tied at one.
Once again the Aggies had an opportunity to go ahead before extra innings with Hunter Coleman walking to lead off the ninth, and making it around to third with two outs. But Logan Britt would fly out for the third out with things still knotted up at one.
After A&M went quietly in the top of the 10th inning, Arkansas got its bats going with back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom half which put men on first and second with no outs. The next batter hit a ground ball and the Aggies tried to turn a double play, but an error allowed a Razorback to advance to third and then home to walk it off 2-1.
The Aggies will look to take Game 3 on Sunday at 2 p.m. from Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville with the freshman righty Nathan Dettmer on the bump. A&M is now 2-8 in its last ten games with the gauntlet of No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 6 Ole Miss looming over the coming weekends. Sunday’s game, as well as Tuesday night’s game against Texas Southern at Blue Bell Park, can be watched on SEC Network+.

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