Athens, GA - The 22nd-ranked Texas A&M Aggies scored five in the final two innings to defeat Georgia 9-5 and avoid a sweep in front of a sold out crowd of 3,071 at Foley Field Sunday.
Georgia (16-12-1, 3-5-1) used seven total pitchers Sunday, with senior Patrick Boling getting the start and Jared Cheek (4-3) eventually being credited with the loss. Jared Walsh finished the day 3-for-5 with a run scored, while freshman Stephen Wrenn went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and threw out an Aggie runner at the plate for his fourth assist of the season.
Texas A&M (18-11, 4-5) used five pitchers with Tyler Stubblefield getting the start and Andrew Vinson (1-1) earning his first win of the season. Blake Allemand finished the day 3-for-3 with three RBIs and Nick Banks added a 3-for-6, two RBI performance for the Aggies.
“It was a really good weekend for us as a whole when you look at it,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said after the game. “To win two out of three against a top-25 team is a good weekend for us. It’s certainly unfortunate for us to lose today in front of such a great crowd. It would have been such a perfect day to win, and it just got away from us late.”
The Bulldogs got on the board first in the bottom of the first of the first inning as Nelson Ward continued his hot streak with an RBI double into left. Walsh slapped a single into left field to start the inning and later advanced to second on a balk by Stubblefield. Ward then came through with a two-out, two-strike double down the left field line that brought in Walsh and put Georgia on top 1-0 after the first inning.
Georgia didn’t waste much time increasing their lead as the Bulldogs tacked on another run in the second. Wrenn reached on a one-out single and then recorded his team-high ninth stolen base of the season, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Texas A&M catcher Mitchell Nau. Wrenn was then able to score on a wild pitch by Stubblefield to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0 through two.
The Aggies were able to get on the board and cut into the Bulldogs’ lead in the top of the third, after Boling started the inning with three consecutive walks to load the bases with no outs. Boling then forced Cole Lankford to pop out to Cole at third in foul territory to record the first out of the inning. Nau then hit a chopper to third, where Cole was able to get another out on a 5-4 fielder’s choice, but surrendered a run in the process.
Boling’s day came to an end after issuing his fourth walk of the third inning and fifth of the afternoon. David Sosebee came in for the Bulldogs, inheriting the bases loaded with two outs as Georgia clutched on to a one run lead. Sosebee forced Banks to hit a shallow pop up into center and Wrenn looked to make another spectacular catch, however, he was unable to make the play and two runs were able to score to give Texas A&M their first lead of the game. Hunter Cole made a great diving catch at third to end the inning with the Aggies up 3-2.
The Bulldogs tied it up again in the bottom half of the inning thanks to the second error of the afternoon by the Aggie defense. Conor Welton lead off the inning with an infield single, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ward. With two outs Brandon Stephens hit what appeared to be an inning ending ground out to short but Logan Taylor’s throw sailed over first base, allowing Stephens to reach base safely and Welton to score from second to tie the game at 3-3 through three.
Texas A&M regained the lead in the top of the fifth on a RBI single into left field by Taylor to make it a 4-3 ball game. Taylor’s single came on a 3-2 pitch and scored Nau from second, who lead off the inning with a single into center field. The run ended Sosebee’s streak of 16.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, and also ended his day on the mound as he was replaced by Jarett Brown.
Brown inherited runners on first and second with just one out, but was able to end the inning with no further damage as he forced a fly out and a ground out to third to end the inning. Cole made another note-worthy play at the hot corner, snagging a grounder and making a spinning throw to get the runner at first.
The Aggies’ lead was short lived yet again as the Bulldogs were able to tie the game up in the bottom of the fifth. After two quick strikeouts by Parker Ray, Brandon Stephens lined a double into left field to keep the inning going. Stephen Wrenn then battled Ray and lined a two-strike single up the middle, scoring Stephens from second to tie the game at 4-4 after five.
Georgia looked to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh after a leadoff double by Welton and then back-to-back walks to Ward and Jess Posey loaded the bases for the Bulldogs with no outs. Vinson was tabbed to relieve Ray following the walk to Posey.
Vinson came in and struck out Stephens, then forced Wrenn to hit a grounder to short for what looked to be a potential inning-ending double play. Wrenn, however, was able to beat out the throw to first and reach base on the fielder’s choice, allowing Welton to score the go ahead run. Wrenn recorded his second stolen base of the game and tenth of the season before Skyler Weber struck out to end the inning with the Bulldogs clutching to a 5-4 lead going into the eighth.
Texas A&M tied it up again in the top of the eighth as Allemand delivered an RBI single into centerfield to score Krey Bratsen from third. Bratsen lead off the inning with a walk off of Ross Ripple, who was then replaced by Cheek. Cheek then gave up back-to-back singles, including the RBI to Allemand and was then replaced by Pete Nagel with two on and nobody out.
The Aggies took a 6-5 lead later in the inning after Hunter Melton delivered an RBI single with the bases loaded, scoring McLendon from third. The Aggies were looking for two on the play as Allemand tried to score from second, but Wrenn made a great throw from the outfield to gun down Allemand at the plate. Nagel was then able to force Banks to ground out to second to end the inning, with the Aggies up 6-5.
Texas A&M added three more runs in the top of the ninth as Allemand came through with another RBI single for the Aggies. With two outs and runners on second and third, Allemand singled into left field to bring in both runners. Allemand advanced to third on a throwing error by Stephens on a pickoff attempt, and then scored on an RBI single by Lankford to push the score to the final tally of 9-5.
“It was a back and forth game,” Stricklin added. “We had that lead in the eighth and our bullpen was fresh and we thought that we could shut things down, but for whatever reason it just got away from us. It was certainly disappointing to lose this game like that, to have the lead in the eighth and then to lose. We competed really well, and we won a series against a very good team.”
Georgia will have no midweek games before heading to Columbia, Mo. to take on the Missouri Tigers in a three-game SEC series starting Friday, April 4 at 7 p.m. EDT.