Freshman’s first start secures rout
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 00:02
Behind a four-run opening inning, the No. 21 Texas A&M baseball team (4-0) defeated the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (2-2) 12-3 before a crowd of 4,066 Tuesday night at Olsen Field.
Freshman pitcher Tyler Stubblefield made his first collegiate appearance with two scoreless innings in Friday’s 10-2 victory over Northeastern. Stubblefield, who was drafted in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves but chose to come to A&M, pitched for 4.1 innings.
“Knowing I was going to get the start was such a great feeling,” Stubblefield said. “To go out and show everyone what I have and just having a good team behind me — knowing they could put up four runs in the first inning — makes you comfortable and gave me a lot of confidence.”
After 70 pitches, head coach Rob Childress pulled Stubblefield with a runner on first in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore relief pitcher Matt Kent picked off SFA’s Will Vest to close Stubblefield’s final line at 4.1 innings pitched, one error, three hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.
Childress said he wanted to get Stubblefield through the fifth inning, but felt like he ran out of gas. Otherwise, Childress said he was pleased with the start he got from Stubblefield.
“I was very impressed,” Childress said. “He was a little bit amped up, you could see that, but after he got that leadoff hitter he settled down and was really good. It was an impressive performance. He’s got good stuff.”
Stubblefield was aided by a big first inning that saw the first five Aggie batters reach base. When the dust settled, A&M scored four runs off Lumberjack starter and College Station native Kevin Bishop.
“I was really impressed with our offense tonight,” Childress said. “We started the game with 10 amazing at-bats and staked Tyler [Stubblefield] to a four-run lead.”
The inning was highlighted by an RBI double from junior third baseman Logan Nottebrok that hit the left field wall.
The Aggies would have another big inning in the fifth, scoring four runs in the frame. With the bases loaded, SFA pitcher Chris Hassold balked in a run. On the next pitch, sophomore outfielder J.B. Moss ripped a pitch down the third base line, bringing in catcher Troy Stein and Jonathon Moroney, who pinch ran for Mitchell Nau.
A&M was led by junior shortstop Patrick McLendon, who finished the night 4-for-6 with two RBIs and a double. McLendon’s speed allowed him to reach base on an infield single in the first inning and let him beat out a throw to first on a suicide squeeze attempt in the fourth.
McLendon’s said his speed surprised him. He said he didn’t think he had a chance to reach base after seemingly giving himself up on the suicide squeeze.
“I was honestly surprised,” McLendon said. “Being down in the count 0-2, I wasn’t expecting that at all. Putting it down, I don’t think the defense was ready for it either. I got a good bunt down and no one was there covering first.”
Junior first baseman Cole Lankford, a preseason All-American, put an exclamation point on the victory in the eighth inning with a two-run home run over the short right field wall.
The win improves A&M’s all-time record against SFA to 22-1, with the lone loss coming in 2010.
The Aggies play Sacramento State (2-2, 0-0 WAC) at 6:35 p.m. Friday at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.