After a delayed opening day due to weather conditions in the Brazos Valley, Texas A&M baseball dropped a doubleheader at the hands of the Xavier Musketeers on Saturday, falling 10-6 and 2-0.
A&M got off to a fast start in the first game of the doubleheader by scoring three runs off a 2 RBI double from Will Frizell and another RBI double from Brett Minnich.
The Aggies continued their fast start, plating two in the bottom of the second after Frizzell hit a sacrifice fly and Kalae Harrison scored on a wild pitch. After two innings, the Aggies had built a 5-1 lead. Starting pitcher Bryce Miller struggled giving up four runs in 3.2 innings pitched.
Ultimately, A&M’s pitching staff let them down as they would go on to give up six unanswered answered runs over the four innings. This put Xavier up 7-5 after six frames.
“We got off to such a great start with a 5-1 lead,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Bryce Miller goes out and loses command a little bit. He walked two guys, hits a guy, and is about to get out of it and just like that we give up three two-out runs and lost the momentum. They took a lot of pitches from him and I had to go to the bullpen. Xavier's bullpens flat out pitched our bullpen, to the tune of six to one and that was the true difference in the game for us, the eight free baserunners.”
The Aggies tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh off of a bases-loaded walk.
The comeback was short-lived after Xavier tacked on three more runs in the next half-inning. Xavier would go on to close out the game 10-6.
A&M was able to compile seven hits in the matchup and the pitching staff struck out 16 of the Musketeers’ batters.
The second half of the doubleheader started off slowly as both teams were held scoreless in the first three innings of the game. Xavier began the scoring in the top of the fourth after first baseman Jonathon Kelly hit a two-run homer off A&M starting pitcher Dustin Saenz.
A&M’s offense was held without a hit in the first seven innings of the game. Designated hitter Austin Bost broke up the no-hitter in the bottom of the eighth with a single.
Strong pitching kept the Aggies in the game with five solid innings from Saenz and four scoreless innings from Mason Ornelas. The two were able to rack up a total of 14 strikeouts while only giving up four hits.
“My fastball and changeup, Coach Childress called really great game,” freshman pitcher Manny Ornelas said. “Taylor Smith was great behind the dish, doing the best he can to give me strikes. There's my fastball and changeup, just changes up speeds and just get them off balance. I think those two pitches really working well for me just keeping them off the plane just changing speeds.”
Ultimately, A&M was unable to put together any consistent offense and Xavier picked up their second victory of the day after Kelly closed the game out. The final score was 2-0.
Childress said the Aggies’ loss came down to their inability to maintain their momentum throughout the game.
“We had some shots from an offensive standpoint, but we had no response once [Xavier] grabbed the momentum,” Childress said. “We were 0 for our last 10 with runners in scoring position in that first game and a quick turnaround in Game 2. Both of our pitchers did an outstanding job and gave us a shot, but we were not able to get anything going from an offensive standpoint. We have a great collection of players, but we had an awful tough time.”
However, senior outfielder Ray Alejo said A&M has a great opportunity to bounce back with the third game of the series at noon on Sunday.
“The Xavier pitchers did a great job, and did what they needed to do,” outfielder Ray Alejo said. “As an offense we learned a lot about ourselves and I think some of the young guys had pregame jitters. There is no excuses there, it's just that we need to go out there and attack more tomorrow.”