No. 12 Texas A&M baseball looked to end their recent losing streak Friday against SEC rivals No. 19 Auburn. Despite a slow start, A&M bounced back and defeated the Tigers 3-0 at Blue Bell Park in game one.
With the win, the Aggies improve to 26-9-1 overall and 8-4-1 in conference play. The win comes with a little extra meaning as Auburn is directly behind A&M in the SEC standings. Auburn's conference record is now 23-11 overall and 7-6 in the SEC.
The game began as a defensive stalemate. Both starting pitchers came to play as they shutout the opposing offense in the first three innings.
Auburn pitcher Tanner Burns began particularly hot, providing A&M a limited amount of on-base opportunities. A&M junior pitcher John Doxakis allowed few runners on base in the first three innings but maintained his shutout longer than Burns would with A&M's offense getting started in the fourth inning.
The Aggies were kick started by senior designated hitter Chandler Morris. Morris notched a base hit and then stole second following an Auburn error.
Junior shortstop Braden Shewmake came up to bat and was walked, as the crowd in Blue Bell began their legendary ball count chant. Ultimately forcing an infield timeout by Auburn.
Immediately following the timeout, junior catcher Mikey Hoehner hit a ball deep into left field, bringing home both Morris and Shewmake and providing the Aggies a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth.
With one run and one RBI on the night, Morris said preforming for your team when they need it most is part of the job.
"You just got to have faith in your teammates, that they are going to get it done, and when they are not getting it done, you pick up the slack," Morris said. "It's pretty simple, as long as you are getting work done, everyone is picking each other up at some point of the year."
In the fifth inning, sophomore infielder Will Frizzell was an offensive catalyst for the Aggies.
Frizzell began the inning with a double deep into center field. Once on second, he stole third after an Auburn error. A pop fly from outfield Zach DeLoach allowed Frizzell enough time to steal home. This gave A&M a 3-0 lead they would carry into the seventh inning.
The Aggies would build onto their lead in the eighth inning. Bryce Blaum started off the order with a double into left field at his first at bat. Morris brought him home in the next at bat with a base hit. This built the lead to 4-0 — the score that ended the game in A&M's favor.
Doxakis had a tremendous performance pitching all the way into the ninth. Despite allowing a few hits, Doxakis maintained a shutout until Bryce Miller was called in to close. Miller allowed two runners on but closed the game with strikeouts.
A&M head coach Rob Childess said Doxakis' performance was a display of competitiveness and talent setting the tone for the rest of the team.
“You cannot be a Friday night guy if you are not on a mission SEC,” Childress said. “He’s just so competitive and leads us into the weekend the right way each and every time.”
Doxakis said his success was in part due to the defense making double plays and limiting the pitch count.
“It was just fastball command and getting those ground balls, our defense was outstanding,” Doxakis said. “Mainly double plays that kept me deep into the game and saving the bullpen for the rest of this series.”
The Aggies return to action on Saturday in game two at Blue Bell Park. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.