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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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One step away
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Sixth inning offensive explosion propels Aggies to Regional opening win over Baylor, 8-5

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Photo by By Heath Clary

Texas A&M celebrates after the final out is recorded of Friday’s 8-5 win over Baylor. 

HOUSTON – A bit of a gloomy feeling fell over Schroeder Park in the third inning as Baylor first baseman Aaron Dodson’s fly ball traveled over the fence in left field for a go-ahead grand slam. It was the first blemish on ace Brigham Hill’s pitching line and it blew the two-run lead the Aggies manufactured in the first inning.
And considering the walk-off home run the Bears hit when the two teams met in early March, the round-tripper this time around seemed like a bad omen.
The Aggies overcame all that and a 42-minute rain delay, though, as Braden Shewmake came through with a home run of his own to spark a five-run sixth, Nick Choruby recorded a four-hit day and Kaylor Chafin pitched 3.2 innings of stellar relief to propel A&M to an 8-5 win over Baylor in the opening game of the Houston Regional.
“All 27 guys gave everything they had today, they were energetic and enthusiastic in the dugout,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said after the game. “There was no head hanging, they were into every pitch and they pulled for each other.”
A&M held a 2-0 lead and starter Brigham Hill had registered two scoreless frames on the mound when consistent rainfall and a few strikes of lightning stopped the game. Hill was not sharp when he returned and, after he got two quick outs in the third, loaded the bases with a single, a walk and a hit-by-pitch to set the stage for Dodson’s blast.
He quickly recovered from the rough third, however, as he proceeded to retire the next seven batters he faced to get the game to the sixth and allow the Aggie offense to pick him.
It did just that in the top of the sixth. Jorge Gutierrez began the frame with a four-pitch walk and Shewmake followed up by crushing a 3-2 pitch from Baylor starter Montana Parsons off the scoreboard in right field to tie the game at four.
“We put seven or eight hard-hit balls back-to-back, so we knew we were on the baseball and we knew good things were going to happen eventually,” Shewmake said. “I was just fortunate enough to be the one to get the big hit.”
After Parsons walked Hunter Coleman on four pitches, Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez opted for setup man Kyle Hill, who entered the contest with a 2.79 ERA, out of the bullpen. Kopetsky welcomed him with a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Hill fielded and threw past the first baseman into right field. With runners on second and third, Coleman scored on a wild pitch and then Cole Bedford plated Kopetsky with a sacrifice fly.
“You leave with a tie game and we go to our bullpen, which has been phenomenal for us this year and one of the biggest reasons why we are here,” Rodriguez said. “We just weren’t able to execute.”
Baylor responded in the bottom-half of the inning with one run as the Bears loaded the bases on Hill once again. After two singles and a walk, Hill induced an RBI fielder’s choice by Josh Bissonette. A&M head coach Rob Childress then called for Chafin out of the bullpen to face the right-handed hitting Steven McLean, who promptly grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Chafin went the distance after that, allowing just one hit over 3.2 innings of dominant relief to collect his first save of the season. The length he and Hill were able to give the Aggies out of the bullpen sets Childress’ pitching staff up nicely for the rest of the weekend, as he has all of his bullpen except for maybe Chafin at his disposal after Corbin Martin starts Saturday.
“For Brigham to get it back together after the third was huge,” Childress said, “and Chafin being efficient throwing only 46 pitches was huge as well.”
The Aggies tacked on another insurance run in the eighth as Austin Homan reached base on an error with two outs, and then Choruby stroked a double into the right-center field gap for his fourth hit and second RBI of the afternoon.
With the win, the Aggies will wait to play the winner of Friday night’s Houston-Iowa game on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be nationally televised on an ESPN network.

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