With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore outfielder Zane Schmidt hit a walkoff single down the third base foul line, allowing junior outfielder Zach DeLoach to score the winning run, as the No. 24 Texas A&M baseball team defeated the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 5-4 at Olsen Field on Tuesday night.
With the victory, the Aggies have snapped their three-game losing streak, moving to 11-3 for the first time since 2015. For the Islanders (6-7), a team that had entered this contest winners in six of their last eight games, fell back to under .500 before returning home to face Incarnate Word in a weekend series.
With how they played in the Frisco Classic, being able to finish a resilient win like they did against Corpus Christi is important for team morale, said A&M coach Rob Childress.
“I think it’s incredibly important, especially with the weekend that we had, to play a tight close game like that,” Childress said. “After scoring early, we made some mistakes there in the next couple of innings and allowed them to come back and take the lead. We had to fight, scratch, and claw to find a way to get back. Tying the game and then walking them off in the ninth and experiencing Olsen Magic can swing the momentum of the season. Sometimes it takes four or five games before you get to experience that, and for us to do it in the first opportunity is huge, and it’s something we’ll be able to take with us for a while.”
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Aggies knew they had an opportunity to break a 4-4 tie and secure a victory. Facing Islander right-handed pitcher Henry Bird, the Aggies started the inning with DeLoach getting hit before a throwing error by Corpus Christi catcher Drake Osborn allowed DeLoach to reach second base and third baseman Logan Sartori to reach first. After a sacrifice bunt by infielder Ty Coleman moved DeLoach and Sartori both into scoring position, Bird walked first baseman Hunter Coleman to load the bases with one out.
With the Aggies in a key scoring opportunity, Schmidt replaced outfielder Logan Britt at the plate, hoping to drive in the winning run. After filling the pitch count, Schmidt capitalized on a fastball from Bird, sending the line drive alongside the left field foul line and recording a walk-off RBI single.
Given a warning from assistant coach Justin Seely that he was about to pinch hit, Schmidt said he capitalized on being in that situation.
“Coach Seely gave me a warning,” Schmidt said. “He said, ‘Hey, we’re going to get this bunt down. They’ll probably walk Hunter and you’re going to be hitting if it comes up.’ I came in, got a 2-0 count off the bat, and got a little bit of time to see a couple of pitches. Eventually I got a full count, there was a fastball away, and I took it the other way.”
To open the contest, the Aggies started off well in the first inning, capitalizing first over the Islanders. After not allowing a run in the top of the first, the Aggies got into scoring position early with singles by DeLoach and Sartori. An RBI single up the middle by Hunter Coleman drove in both DeLoach and Sartori to give the Aggies a two-run advantage. They extended this lead late in the first inning, when a single by centerfielder Ray Alejo drove in Hunter Coleman from third base. Overall, the Aggies scored three runs off of five hits in the bottom of the first.
Trouble started brewing for the Aggies in the top of the second inning, when the Islanders matched the Aggies with three runs of their own. They opened the inning with a solo homerun from Corpus Christi centerfielder Tristan Welch. After recording two outs, an error by Aggie shortstop Trevor Werner allowed Osborn to score from third base, while a single by Islander rightfielder Itchy Burts evened the game at three runs a piece. The third run ended the night for starting pitcher Jonathan Childress, who ended having thrown 32 pitches in 1.2 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run.
Replaced by left-handed pitcher Dustin Saenz, Saenz got A&M out of the top of the second before facing more trouble in the third inning. After allowing a runner to reach third base, a single by Osborn drove in Islander designated hitter Trevor Beard, giving Corpus Christi a one-run lead. After getting out of the third, Saenz finished the game very well, throwing 62 pitches in 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and one earned run while finishing with four strikeouts.
While the Aggie bullpen was able to keep the Islander offense at bay, the offense struggled to retake the lead. From the second through the sixth innings, the Aggies struggled to gain any offensive momentum, leaving five runners on base while failing to even the ball game. The Aggies finally responded in the bottom of the seventh, as a single by Hunter Coleman allowed DeLoach to score.
Right-handed pitcher Bryce Miller (1-2) recorded his first win of the season in his relief effort, totaling 1.1 scoreless innings while allowing only one hit.
The Aggies’ Wednesday contest against Abilene Christian was cancelled, so the Aggies will next take the field against the New Mexico State Aggies for a three-game weekend. First pitch for Friday’s game is set for 6:30 p.m.