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The Battalion

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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Bedford’s homer, three incredible pitching performances send Aggies to Regional championship

Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics

June 3, 2017: Texas A&M Aggies Baseball vs Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA Division 1 Regionals. Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics

HOUSTON – The excitement was palpable Saturday night in Houston as Kaylor Chafin trotted through the bullpen door and onto the field. The junior lefty was only a day removed from throwing 3.2 innings and 46 pitches to close out Friday’s win over Baylor, but Rob Childress knew the situation the Aggies were in required his bullpen ace.
With runners on first and third, two outs and a 2-0 count on Iowa leadoff hitter Chris Whelan, the Texas A&M head coach called on Chafin to escape the jam. Like he has done all season, Chafin got the job done, inducing an infield popup that settled into Hunter Coleman’s mitt to finish off the Aggies’ gut-wrenching 3-2 win at Schroeder Field.
“Tonight was the game,” Childress said after the game. “Tonight was a game we needed to win to have an opportunity to play tomorrow night. We were going to do whatever we had to do to try to win tonight.”
With the win, the Aggies (38-21) move to 2-0 in the Houston Regional and are one win away from advancing to the Super Regional next week.
Chafin’s one-out save was his second of the weekend, but junior right-handers Corbin Martin and Cason Sherrod each turned in terrific performances as well.
Martin (7-3) gave up a run in the second and surrendered a solo home run to NCAA home run leader Jake Adams in the sixth, but that was all the offense the Hawkeyes (39-21) could muster. The Cypress native scattered eight hits and two runs over seven innings of work, striking out nine.
“He was fantastic,” Childress said of Martin. “He got good in the middle innings. He pitched out of some jams early to keep the game close and give us a chance.”
Said Adams: “He threw pretty well. He had a lot of guys chasing out of the zone, and we knew that’s what he was going to try to do. We just weren’t disciplined enough to lay off.”
Bedford supplied all the offense the Aggies needed in the fourth. After missing a sign from his third base coach and twice trying unsuccessfully to lay down a squeeze bunt, Bedford crushed a hanging slider from Iowa starter Nick Gallagher into the trees behind the left-field fence to put his team up 3-1.
“I was just making sure I did something to get that run in after messing up those two times,” Bedford said with a chuckle. “I guess I got lucky and it paid off.”
Said Martin: “I can’t say enough about Bedford’s performance today, especially with that three-run home run and the way he caught me today. It always helps to have a guy like that behind the plate.”
From then on, it was up to the A&M pitching staff to protect the lead. Martin left a first-pitch slider up in the zone to Adams that made it a 3-2 ballgame, but that was all the runs the Aggies would surrender. Martin threw 116 pitches on the night and handed the baton to Sherrod after Mason McCoy led off the eighth with a single up the middle.
Sherrod made sure the inherited runner stayed right where he was, striking out the next three hitters in order. He blew away the first two hitters with mid-90s heat, then unleashed a filthy 80 mph slider to sit down Tyler Cropley for the third out of the inning.
“When a guy like Sherrod comes in throwing 96 with sink, up to 98, it’s deadly, especially when he’s throwing strikes and trusting his stuff,” Martin said. “That’s the guy you want to go to in that big situation.”
The Hawkeyes would not go down without a fight, however, as Grant Judkins led off the ninth with a walk. Matt Hoeg moved pinch runner Justin Jenkins into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and, after a flyout for the second out of the inning, Mitchell Boe ripped a grounder up the middle.
It appeared off the bat like a game-tying single, but Sherrod made what Martin called the play of the game by knocking it down and keeping it in the infield. He pounced on the ball as it rolled behind the mound and threw low to first base, where Coleman blocked it so no runners could advance.
After Sherrod started off Whelan with two balls, Childress motioned for Chafin, setting the stage for the late-game theatrics. Chafin threw a ball outside to move the count to 3-0, but then recovered to throw four straight strikes, the last of which Whelan popped out to first.
“We had one of our best hitters up with a chance to tie the game in the top of the ninth, we just didn’t get it done,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “It was a really good ball game tonight.”
Martin made a good defensive play of his own in the first inning to save a run. With runners on first and second and one out, Martin speared a hard comebacker and threw to second to start an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
He also ran into trouble in the fourth but once again wiggled out of it. After Ben Norman doubled to left to put runners at second and third with two outs, Martin induced a routine ground ball to shortstop to end the inning.
Texas A&M will wait to play the winner of Game 5 Sunday at 8 p.m. Whoever the Aggies meet — either Houston or Iowa — will have to beat them twice to keep them from moving on to the next round of the postseason.
“The message to our team after the game was we haven’t done anything yet,” Childress said. “We’ve got two really good teams that are going to fight tomorrow early, and we are going to get one of them tomorrow night.”

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