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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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Mississippi State uses three-run seventh to take rubber match from A&M, 4-3

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Stephen Kolek tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts Saturday against Mississippi State. 

For the fifth week in a row, Stephen Kolek gave Texas A&M a fantastic start in a series finale, but the Aggies wasted his outing Saturday as they fell to No. 11 Mississippi State 4-3.
The Bulldogs (32-17, 16-8 SEC) used three hits and two A&M errors to score three runs in the decisive seventh inning to take the rubber match of the three-game series and end the Aggies’ streak of five consecutive SEC series wins.
“Every game in the SEC is tough, that’s why it’s the best conference in baseball,” senior first baseman Joel Davis said after the game. “We’re a great team, they’re a great team — there’s a fine line between winning and losing and they were on that line.”
The Aggies (34-15, 14-10 SEC) jumped out in front in the bottom of the first inning. After Kolek struck out the side in the top-half of the first, Nick Choruby worked a walk, advanced to second on a groundout, moved over to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI groundout by Braden Shewmake.
As Kolek continued to miss bats and keep the Bulldogs off the bases, Davis added a run to the Aggies’ ledger in the fourth with a solo home run to right-center field.
Mississippi State got on the board in the top of the sixth with three straight hits to start the frame, but Kolek preserved the Aggies’ lead by inducing a Brent Rooker flyout that was not deep enough to bring home the run from third and then getting Ryan Gridley to ground out to shortstop for the final out.
In all, Kolek allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings, striking out 11, walking none and only surrendering five hits. He threw exactly 100 pitches on the afternoon and lowered his ERA to 3.31 in the process.
“Really just trying to fill up the strike zone with all my pitches,” Kolek said of his approach on the mound. “Really just attacking with the fastball, cutter and changeup. Just trying to throw them all for strikes at the bottom of the zone.”
Blake Kopetsky extended A&M’s lead to 3-1 with his second solo home run in as many days in the sixth, but then the wheels came off for the Aggies in the seventh.
Kolek started the frame by striking out Cody Brown looking and, after a single by Elijah MacNamee, prompted a groundball to second that looked like it would be an inning-ending double play. Braden Shewmake, who had made only two errors all season entering Saturday’s game, threw wide of Austin Homan at second to prolong the inning.
With runners on the corners and one out, Kolek struck out Luke Alexander looking for the second out and, with catcher Josh Lovelady — who was 2-for-2 against Kolek in the game — due up, Rob Childress called on closer Mitchell Kilkenny out of the bullpen to get the final out of the inning.
Kilkenny could not shut the door, though, as he allowed back-to-back RBI singles to tie the game and then threw a wild pitch past catcher Hunter Coleman with a runner on third to let Tanner Poole scamper home with the go-ahead run.
“When you’re not scoring a lot of runs, every little mistake gets magnified,” Childress said. “Certainly a couple got magnified for us today and cost us dearly.”
Shewmake made two errors in the seventh inning, but the Aggies have nothing but confidence in him moving forward.
“He’s the best second baseman in college baseball,” Davis said of the freshman infielder. “Ten times out of ten he makes that play. Shewmake’s a great player and he’s going to make that play every single time.”
The Aggies could not muster any offense after falling behind and went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.
They struck out eight times in the contest and did not get any hits with runners in scoring position. In the second inning they got runners to second and third with one out and could not push any runs across. Two more times they got two runners on base and failed to score.
“We left some guys on the bags that we shouldn’t have,” Davis said. “We have to take advantage of that. They took advantage of it and that was a big part of the game.”
Kaylor Chafin relieved Kilkenny in the eighth and tossed two scoreless innings. Reliever Riley Self pitched the final 3.1 innings for the Bulldogs, allowing no runs and striking out three en route to his fifth win of the season.
The Aggies will travel to Ole Miss next week for another three-game series. First pitch of the series is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday in Oxford. The game can be seen on SEC Network +.

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