Texas A&M and Georgia were locked into a pitcher’s duel all morning, but it was the Bulldogs who outlasted the Aggies with Cam Shepherd hitting a walk-off 2-run home run to give No. 7 Georgia a 2-0 win over No. 13 A&M in the second round of the SEC tournament Wednesday morning.
The Aggies’ pitching was fantastic, allowing just two hits in the first 8.2 innings, but Shepherd’s homer snuck just behind the leaping glove of A&M left fielder Cam Blake to win the game.
"[Blake] laid it all on the line for us and tried to make a play," A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake said. "It just didn't happen for him."
With the loss, A&M will face the loser of Arkansas-Ole Miss in an elimination game Thursday morning again at 9:30 a.m.
Freshman pitcher Chris Weber had a special start, throwing 7.1 hitless innings before giving up a single thru the left side of the infield to end his no-hit bid. Weber was then lifted in favor of fellow freshman lefty Moo Menefee.
"I knew it, but it wasn't my focus," Weber said of his no-hit bid. "My focus was that zeros kept showing up on the board each inning. Obviously a little disappointing when they got a hit, but I knew we had Moo behind me … I know he's going to help us get a chance to win."
Weber only struck out four batters and walked two, but was able to keep the Bulldogs at bay by keeping them from barrelling balls after throwing a career-high 106 pitches.
"Georgia's had a great year, they have a lot of veteran hitters in their lineup and they've done a great job against left-handed pitching," A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "For Chris to go out there and do that makes you understand how special that is. Chris has been, for the last eight weeks, as good as anybody we have on the mound. And that's a bold statement when you talk about the guys we've been running out there."
Menefee kept pace in the eighth, but allowed a two-out single in the ninth because of a defensive shift, setting up Shepherd’s heroic homer.
At the plate, A&M’s offense was stagnant, going 2-for-26. Braden Shewmake roped a double into right field on the first pitch of the game, but the Aggies managed just one hit after that -- a single by first baseman Will Frizzell in the second.
Still, A&M had ample scoring chances throughout the game, but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Aggies left six men on base, with five of them in scoring position.
A&M’s best chance to score was in the sixth when it had the bases loaded with one out, but Zach DeLoach hit a grounder to first base with the corners up, grounding into a 3-2-3 double play to end the inning.
"We certainly had a lot of opportunities to score," Childress said. "The first inning, a lead-off double we weren't able to move and score. Load the bases with one out in the sixth, can't cash in. We're 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, can't get a big hit."
The Aggies will face the loser of the Razorbacks-Rebels in an elimination game Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.