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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Baserunning mistakes, missed opportunities cost Aggies in first loss of season

Texas+A%26M+v.+Pepperdine
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
Texas A&M v. Pepperdine

Less than 24 hours after Texas A&M’s Brigham Hill and Pepperdine’s Ryan Wilson combined to throw 14.2 innings of one-run ball, runs were once again at a premium Saturday afternoon at Olsen Field.
In low-scoring games, situational hitting and limiting mistakes are critical. The Aggies (5-1) did not do either of those and also made several baserunning blunders along the way en route to a 2-1 defeat, their first loss of the season.
“When you’re telling the other team you don’t have to come get us for nine innings, you can get us for eight and we’re going to give you three or four outs a game on the bases — that’s not good baseball,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said after the game. “Give Pepperdine credit. Their pitcher did a great job and their bullpen came in and did a nice job, but four outs on the bases is tough to swallow.”
Childress likened Pepperdine’s starter Max Gamboa (1-0) to Nolan Ryan as he dominated the Aggies the first time through the order. Gamboa got six of his first eight outs via the strikeout, and finished the day with five hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
The Waves scored a run in the top-half of the first, the Aggies scratched one across in the third, and the game remained knotted there until the top of the seventh, when Aaron Barnett laced a go-ahead RBI double down the right field line off Corbin Martin. Despite getting a runner into scoring position in each of the final three innings, the Aggies couldn’t come through with a clutch hit when they needed it most.
In the seventh, Jorge Gutierrez fell victim to an inning-ending strikeout with runners on first and second.
The eighth was the Aggies’ best opportunity, though. Austin Homan led off the frame with a five-pitch walk, and then Nick Choruby legged out a bunt single. Then, with Cam Blake batting and trying to sacrifice bunt both runners into scoring position, Homan was picked off at second for the first out of the inning. Blake promptly struck out looking and Braden Shewmake followed suit moments later to end the threat.
In the ninth, Walker Pennington led off the inning with a single through the left side and advanced to second on a Joel Davis sacrifice bunt. Neither George Janca nor Logan Foster could come up with the big hit, however, as both flied out to end the game.
Stephen Kolek gave the Aggies six strong innings of work in his second start of the season, allowing five hits and striking two. He pounded the strike zone with his sinker all game long, collecting nine groundball outs in the process.
Kolek was helped out by George Janca on multiple occasions, most notably in the third when the Aggies’ third baseman saved a run with a diving stop and a strong throw across the diamond to end the inning. In all, Janca made three diving plays.
“I tried to pound the zone and let my defense work,” Kolek said. “I tried to keep my teammates in this game and tried to keep a good pace. I was letting my two-seam work and was again just trying to pitch to where my defense could win the game and keep them involved. You gotta love a guy like [Janca] playing behind you — he’s a great player.”
He ran into trouble in the sixth, but he induced an inning-ending flyout with runners on second and third to escape the jam and preserve the 1-1 tie. Even though the sophomore righty had been efficient to that point and still had his pitch count below 90, Childress called for Martin to begin the seventh.
Martin promptly surrendered a leadoff single to Matt Crowder, but then appeared to be on the verge of wiggling out of the inning unscathed when Barnett stepped to the plate. On an 0-1 count, Martin unleashed a 97 mph heater on the inner-half of the plate, but Barnett turned on it and laced a double just past the outstretched arm of a diving Davis at first base.
“On 0-1, you’d like it to be a little bit better pitch,” Childress said, “but give them credit, they got the hit when it mattered most.”
Freshman John Doxakis relieved Martin in the eighth and logged two hitless innings. Childress said it was nice to see the young southpaw recover after getting tagged for five earned runs in 2.1 innings Tuesday against Stephen F. Austin.
A&M and Pepperdine will square off in the rubber match on Sunday, with first pitch slated to be delivered at 1 p.m.
“I think everybody knows that we kind of gave that one away,” Choruby said. “You can’t just roll out here and expect to win. You’ve got to come ready to play, ready to compete. We didn’t do that today, but it’s a learning process so we’re going to come back out tomorrow ready to go.”

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