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

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

The Battalion

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Mark Ecker’s brilliance leads Aggies to 10-6 win over Mississippi State

Photo by Photo by: Valerie Gunchick

Hunter Melton leads the team with 24 RBI on the season.

It is usually not a good sign when a team brings in its closer in the middle of the sixth inning, but that’s exactly what Rob Childress did when he summoned Mark Ecker out of the bullpen with the Aggies’ lead nearly evaporated and two runners on base with no outs.
The junior righty did his job and much more, inducing a flyout and striking out two in the sixth to preserve the A&M’s 7-6 lead and then pitching three more superb innings to finish off the Aggies’ 10-6 victory over No. 2 Mississippi State.
“My changeup is finally working. I kept using that, pounding the strike zone,” Ecker said. “When I came in coach told me to just focus on getting one out at a time and everything will work out. After I got out of the sixth inning, it all fell it to place.”
The Bulldogs (24-11-1, 8-6 SEC) jumped out to an early lead in the first when Reid Humphreys belted a two-run home run to left field off of A&M starter Jace Vines.
But, like they often do, the Aggies (28-8, 9-5 SEC) responded in a big way soon after. Nick Banks and Boomer White hit back-to-back singles in the third, and then they executed a double-steal that worked to perfection. MSU catcher Elih Marrero threw to second to try to get White, but the ball sailed into center field and allowed Banks to trot home.
Melton singled a few pitches later to advance White to third, Ryne Birk scored White with a deep sacrifice fly to right and, after a single by Michael Barash, Joel Davis cleared the bases by launching a two-run triple over the center fielder’s head. Nick Choruby followed with an infield single to first to give the Aggies a five-run lead.
Davis praised his teammates for getting on base in front of him and putting him in a position to succeed.
“The guys ahead of me deserve all of the credit today,” Davis said. “They wore the pitcher down and he left some mistakes for me. I was able to capitalize on them. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
That offensive outburst chased MSU starter Austin Sexton from the game after three innings, and the Aggies proved that they have one of the deepest and most potent offenses in the country. Every starter recorded at least one hit in the game – including three players with three hits – and the A&M lineup was simply too tough for the Bulldogs.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how things are going offensively,” Childress said. “Coach Bolt, Coach Seely and Coach Carlson do a great job of preparing them each and every day. The guys come and punch the clock, getting good at bats one-through-nine.”
Mississippi State threatened to take the lead in the sixth after Vines left the game. Relievers Turner Larkins and Andrew Vinson faced a combined five hitters without recording an out and the Bulldogs were in position to break the game wide open before Ecker came in and shut the door.
Ecker needed only 46 pitches to get through four hitless innings – his longest outing of the season and tied for the longest of his career – striking out four and walking one in suffocating fashion.
The Aggie offense rewarded Ecker for his efforts in the eighth inning, adding valuable insurance by scoring three runs. After two quick outs, Banks singled to center and White walked to bring up Melton. MSU yanked Daniel Brown from the ballgame after he had stifled the A&M bats for 4.2 innings, and last week’s SEC Player of the Week welcomed Zac Houston to the game with an RBI single.
Birk followed with a single to center, scoring White easily from third. The ball proceeded to get by Jake Mangum in center field, allowing Melton to score all the way from first and give the Aggies ten runs for the fifth consecutive game.
A&M will go for the sweep Sunday at Dudy Noble Field, with first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Saturday’s win came in front of 15,078 fans, marking the second-largest on-campus attendance for a college baseball game in history. After struggling on the road at Florida two weeks ago, it is a positive sign that the Aggies were able to play so well in a raucous atmosphere like Starkville.
“Getting the series win in an environment like this is huge,” Davis said. “To do that here with 15,000 in the stands, cheering against us, is a big momentum builder.”

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  • Joel Davis went 3-for-5 at the plate Saturday for the Aggies, including a two-run triple in the third inning. 

    Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel

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