No. 19 Texas A&M offense took charge in the fifth and never look back in the 6-1 win over No. 4 Arkansas to close out the regular season with a series win.
Aside from their offensive power, the Aggies also pitched well against a powerful Arkansas lineup. After allowing a home run in the first inning to Casey Martin, starting A&M pitcher Christian Roa shutout the Razorbacks and earned his third win of the season. The sophomore pitched six innings allowing just one run on five hits and tied his career-high seven strikeouts.
"With the wind blowing out 25 miles per hour, against the left-handed bats that they have in their lineup and what they've done to every team in the Southeastern Conference this year, it was certainly a special performance,” A&M head coach Rob Childress told 12thman.com.
Freshman Joseph Menefee took the mound in the seventh and sat down all seven batters he faced. Sophomore pitcher Kasey Kalich entered with one out in the ninth, striking out the final two batters to seal the win for the Aggies.
Over the course of the series A&M's pitchers recorded 44 strikeouts and allowed only five walks. Arkansas scored a combined three runs in the last two games.
The Aggies reached the 600 strikeout mark for the second time in school history and sit only 10 behind the school record set in 2010.
“Just kind of attacking the zone and trusting Mikey [Hoehner] behind the plate and coach in the dugout was a key part to today,” Roa said in a video on Twitter. “Our offense getting going in the fifth really boosted us throughout the game. I’m really proud of our team. The resilience of coming back after the loss on Thursday night and coming back to take two is a big deal.”
The Aggie bats were quiet through four innings before Jonathan Ducoff singled up the middle in the fifth inning to score Hoehner and tie the game at one. A&M took the lead later that inning, as Foster scored on an error by shortstop Martin. Braden Shewmake then put Ducoff across the plate on a sacrifice fly to right field to extend the Aggie lead to 3-1.
The lead grew to 4-1 in the sixth inning, as Blake flied out to right field allowing Zach Deloach to score from third.
Ducoff doubled to left center to get things going in the seventh inning and later managed to score off a Ty Coleman single to right field. With a 5-1 ballgame, Coleman found his way around the bases after a wild pitch from Kevin Kopps and throwing error by Arkansas.
"We made them pay,” Childress told 12thman.com. “We haven't had a lot of those go our way this year. When we needed them most they made a few mistakes, and we were certainly able to capitalize on them.”
In total, the Aggies managed six runs on nine hits and forced the Razorbacks to use five pitchers in the game. Coleman ended the game with two RBI, one hit and one run, while Ducoff managed one RBI, two hits and two runs.
“This was a really big series for us,” Ducoff said in a video on Twitter. “Nothing but credit to Arkansas, they’re a really good team. I’m glad we were able to snatch the momentum early and take care of business at home. I think that’s exactly what we needed. We know we’re right on the bubble for being able to host, and that’s something we want for us and our fans. These were two big wins for us.”
With the result, The Aggies climb to 36-19-1 on the season and 16-13-1 in SEC action, while the Razorbacks fall to 40-15 on the season and 20-10 in conference play.
“Feeling like we’re playing our best baseball and our best baseball is ahead of us definitely helps,” Roa said in a video on Twitter. “We’re excited going to Hoover, and we’re ready to get out there and try to win a ring.”
The Aggies will be back in action early next week as they travel to Alabama for the SEC Tournament.