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Texas A&M axes SFA in extras on wild ending, 6-5

Baseball
Photo by Kevin Chou
Baseball

Sometimes sports have wild endings – and that was the case at Olsen Field Tuesday night.

Stephen F. Austin (2-3) freshman pitcher Josh Ponder’s intentional walk pitch-out attempt sailed over catcher Clark Kahawaii’s head into the back net, allowing Braden Shewmake to score from third – giving Texas A&M (4-0) a 6-5 win walk-off win on a wild pitch in 12 innings.

“You think you’ve seen it all until you haven’t seen it all,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said of the game’s ending. “We talk to our pitchers all the time about that. We work on the that in the bullpen – intentional walks, pitch outs. They come in the biggest moments and it certainly was that tonight.”

Before the errant throw, Ponder had thrown two pitches in the dirt, one of which allowed Joel Davis to advance to second. Davis’ advancement put Ponder in a bind with one out and prompted him to begin the intentional walk to load the bases and put SFA in a more manageable situation. His uneasiness though caused Shewmake and the A&M coaching staff to be extra attentive to a potential misfire.

“[Ponder] had bounced the first two [pitches], so we knew he wasn’t very comfortable going to the plate like that. Coach Bolt told me to get a little extra on the bounce, but make sure I could get back to the bag if they tried to pick, so I was off a little more than I normally would be,” Shewmake said. “Once I saw the ball up and above the catcher’s head, I was gone.”

The Aggies had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, but pinch runner Tommy Gillman was stranded at third after Shewmake struck out on three pitches. Yet again, A&M had a chance to end things in the bottom of the eleventh, but Austin Homan struck out swinging to strand Logan Foster at third and Nick Choruby at second.

A&M found itself in a jam in the top of the ninth, as a throwing error by third baseman George Janca advanced runners to second and third with one out, and the bases became loaded after an intentional walk. Closer Corbin Martin did his part, however, striking out the next two batters to end the half-inning – fanning the final hitter with three straight fastballs.

Martin pitched two innings, allowing three hits, but recorded three key strikeouts.

“[Martin] was able to get into some jam with the bases loaded, one out, two big strikeouts. He’s got great stuff, it’s just a matter of executing pitches and he did that tonight,” Childress said. “He gave up two runs last weekend, was disappointed with that. He wanted to redeem himself, and he did tonight.”

Jorge Gutierrez showed why he earned the starting designated hitter spot, blasting a two-run home run off the left field scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth following Janca’s second triple of the game to tie the game at five.

It was Gutierrez’s third home run of the season and the switch-hitter showed his muscle from the right side of the plate after knocking out the first two from the left this past weekend.

“[Switch-hitting] is something we work on every day,” Gutierrez said. “Our approach on both sides, same approach both sides, have the same mentality. Runner on third, just try and get the ball in play and get the run in.”

SFA struck first in the top of the third inning on a close call at the plate. A&M starting pitcher John Doxakis caught a choppy grounder hit back at him and sprinted home in attempt to tag the runner out, but missed the diving swipe. The onslaught continued, with the Jacks scoring another while adding two base runners before Doxakis was pulled in favor of Kaylor Chafin.

Chafin struggled from the get-go, hitting the first batter he faced to load the bases and walked in a run on the next batter. A deep fly ball to left centerfield scored another runner, and SFA took a commanding 5-0 lead after the top half of the third.

A&M cut into SFA’s lead in the fourth, as Janca crushed a stand-up triple over the center fielder’s head to plate two. The Aggies tacked on another run in the fifth as a Walker Pennington single down the left field line scored Shewmake from third – who in the previous at-bat hit a triple to the wall in right center field.

The win may not have been pretty, but after falling behind five runs after one rough inning, Childress was pleased with his club’s ability to find a way to take home a victory.

“Couldn’t be more proud of our guys, found ourselves down 5-0 – got away from us in that inning, kind of compounded several mistakes,” Childress said. “Our bullpen pitched as good as they possibly could pitch, played good defense behind them and gave ourselves a chance. Scratched and clawed to get back into it and found a way to win there in the twelfth.”

A&M returns to action this Friday when it hosts Pepperdine with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.

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  • Freshman second baseman Braden Shewmake scored the winning run in the Aggies’ extra-inning victory over Stephen F. Austin.

    Photo by: Morgan Engel
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