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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
June 8, 2024

Texas A&M leans heavily on bullpen for first home SEC win, 6-3

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Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel

Hunter Coleman went 1-for-2 Tuesday including a solo home run in the seventh inning. 

It’s usually an inauspicious sign when your starting pitcher gives up three runs and throws more than 30 pitches in the first inning.
But Corbin Martin managed to right the ship with zeroes in the second and third, and then Kaylor Chafin and Mitchell Kilkenny combined for six scoreless innings of relief en route to a 6-3 victory over No. 11 Auburn. The victory, which came in front of 7,165 fans on a sunny day at Olsen Field, marked the Aggies’ first home SEC win of the season.
A&M head coach Rob Childress has been shuffling his bullpen all season long, but the Aggies (21-11, 4-7 SEC) relieving core has settled into their roles of late and has pitched at a high level. Including Cason Sherrod’s three innings of relief in Friday’s loss, the A&M bullpen has thrown a complete game shutout in the first two games of the series.
“I feel like for the last couple weeks our bullpen has been a strength, and we’ve certainly gone to it in a big way the last two days,” Childress said after the game.
The Aggies got on the board in the second courtesy of an RBI double by Jorge Gutierrez. Hunter Coleman, who got the start behind the plate for A&M, led off the frame with a sharp single up the middle, Cam Blake followed by reaching on an error and then Walker Pennington advanced both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Gutierrez came through moments later with a double that hugged the line into the right-field corner and plated both Coleman and Blake.
The Aggies put up another two-spot in the third inning with Coleman once again playing a pivotal role. Immediately after Austin Homan was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice, Coleman punished a fastball from Keagan Thompson (4-1) that caught too much of the plate over the fence in right-center field for his first collegiate home run.
“He left it over the plate and I put a good swing on it,” said Coleman, who reached base all four times on the day with two RBI and two runs scored. “I didn’t know if it was getting out, I just remember seeing the outfielders turn around without the ball so that’s when I knew it was over.”
In the game’s opening frame, Martin quickly retired the first two Tigers (24-9, 8-3) of the game and then appeared to strike out Jonah Todd on a 3-2 fastball at the knees. The home-plate umpire ruled it a ball, though, and two batters later Blake Logan crushed a round-tripper to deep left.
He then proceeded to load the bases, but limited the damage by picking off a runner at second base for the third out. Martin picked off another one in the second inning, and in all surrendered six hits, three runs and five walks in three innings.
“It looked like they saw his secondary stuff and laid off,” Childress said of Martin. “We were very fortunate to get some free outs on the bases, none bigger than the bases-loaded pick in the first — that one might have been a big number instead of three.”
Chafin relieved Martin in the fourth and worked 3.2 innings, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth with some help from his catcher. Bowen McGuffin hit a swinging bunt in front of home plate and Coleman pounced on it, touched home for the force out and then threw to first to complete the double play.
“I’ve never seen a double play like that,” said Chafin, who improved to 3-1 on the season. “It came at a very much-needed time.”
After the Aggies tacked on a run in the fifth and another in the sixth, closer Mitchell Kilkenny entered the game in the seventh and finished the game with a seven-out save. He allowed two hits but struck out four to notch his third save of the season.
Kilkenny, who has adjusted to the closer’s role after beginning the season in the weekend rotation, touched 98 mph on the radar gun and overpowered most of the Auburn hitters he faced.
“I think he’s getting comfortable in that spot,” Childress said of Kilkenny. “He likes that spot. You don’t know what kind of response you’re going to get when you ask a starter to go to the bullpen, but he was excited to go do that for us and certainly makes us better.”
The Aggies will go for the series win Sunday at 1 p.m. Stephen Kolek will be on the mound for A&M and Auburn will give the ball to Davis Daniel in the rubber match. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network +.
“We’re doing all the things that it takes to win,” Coleman concluded. “We’re getting good defense with a good offensive approach and good pitching.” 

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