On a weekend that saw the Aggie Men's Hoops team secure its first conference title in 30 years, the Texas Aggie Baseball team swept the Yale Smartypants' in front of 18,652 fans in total, including one Mr. George H.W. Bush. The games weren't always pretty, but the Aggies prevailed in all three contests by a combined score of 35-7 over the Bulldogs.
Runs certainly weren't at a premium for the maroon and white, that much is obvious. The Aggie pitchers, on the other hand, didn't fare as well as they probably would have liked. For example, the four pitchers from Saturday's contest walked a total of eight Yale batters. That being said, the A&M bats more than made up for that. Coming off a series at Pepperdine, where the Aggies had to rely more on their pitching and defense, it was good to see the offense be able to pick up a bit of the slack this weekend.
Now onto the Official GBH Three Gig 'Ems:
: J.B. Moss
Another weekend, another superb series at the plate for the senior outfielder. Friday, Moss went 3-6 with a home run, a double, a steal and 5 RBI. Saturday, he went 1-3, with two walks. Sunday, he went 2-5 with an RBI and a steal. On the year, Moss is hitting .436, with two home runs and 13 RBI. He's been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Aggies at the top of the lineup, and he's currently sitting on an eight-game hitting streak. He's also only struck out four times. The production that Moss is providing right now is absolutely invaluable for A&M. Keep doing the thing, J.B.
: Ryne Birk
Coming into this weekend, Birk had been struggling something fierce at the plate. After starting out at the top of the lineup to open the season, Birk's struggles saw him pushed down to seventh in the batting order against Yale. He was hitting a paltry .200, even though his bat figured to be a major part of the A&M offense for 2016. How did he respond? By going 9-13, with a home run, three triples, a double and six RBI over this three-game set. On Sunday, Birk batted twice in the seventh inning. HIs first at-bat, he put the Ags in front 3-2 with a two-run shot into the visitors' bullpen in right. In his second at-bat, he tripled home Nick Banks. It was just an absolutely unconscious weekend at the dish for Ryno.
: George H.W. Bush, Texas A&M and Yale
This series was scheduled at the request of the Bush family, and both A&M and Yale took the chance to honor the 41st President of the United States. President Bush threw out two ceremonial first pitches; one to Yale, his alma mater, and another to Texas A&M, the university that the President selected to house his Presidential Library. Both teams wore special uniforms in tribute to 41. The Ags wore swanky red, white and blue uniforms that you may have seen in the series preview. Yale wore throwback uniforms in the vein of the uniforms that Yale teams wore when President Bush played for the Bulldogs in the late 1940s. Both were outstanding homages to one of the truly great men of this great country. Both looked very sharp out on the diamond. Gig 'Em, Mr. President.
And now onto the actual recap portion of our program:
Friday: A&M 12, Yale 5
Friday night's game marked the weekend debut for sophomore transfer Jace Vines, and he did not disappoint. Coming into this start, Vines had only allowed three hits in 10.0 innings. He continued that with six innings of no-hit baseball against the Bulldogs to begin his foray into the weekend rotation. Unfortunately for Vines, he threw a five-pitch walk to open the seventh frame, followed by a single up the middle to break up his no-hit bid and an infield single to load the bases. Vines was then pulled in favor of sophomore lefty Kaylor Chafin, who issued a bases-loaded walk to put Yale on the board. Chafin got the next hitter to bounce out to second base, cutting the Aggie lead to 6-2. Andrew Vinson then entered the game and surrendered a three-run home run to the Bulldogs' catcher to make it 6-5. That was all the Bulldogs would get on the night, as Vinson got out of the rest of the inning unscathed. Freshman Stephen Kolek entered the game in the eighth, and threw two perfect innings to end the game.
Offensively, the Ags began the first inning with a bang off of a leadoff home run by J.B. Moss. Two batters later, Hunter Melton drew a walk before moving to second on a wild pitch. Nick Banks then doubled Melton home to extend the A&M lead to two. The Aggies tacked on two more in the fourth, thanks to a Ronnie Gideon sacrifice fly and an RBI triple by George Janca. They added two more in the sixth inning from two RBI singles by Janca and Boomer White. Following Yale's five spot in the top of the seventh, the Ags tacked on four of their own to make it 10-5. They would add two more in the eighth to push the score to 12-5. A truly great response by the Aggie bats when the pitching staff needed it most.
Saturday: A&M 13, Yale 0
Freshman phenom Tyler Ivey drew the start on Saturday for the first time in his young career, but he wasn't as sharp as he had been in his first two starts. In total, Ivey walked five Yale batters and allowed four hits in his 4.1 innings of work, but he also struck out five. He also extended his scoreless innings streak to 16.1 on the young season. Even on a day where he didn't have his best stuff, he was able to keep his opponent off of the scoreboard. Sophomore Brigham Hill came on in relief of Ivey and struck out three over a hitless inning and two-thirds. Corbin Martin came on in the seventh and struck out two over the next two innings. Cason Sherrod then threw a hitless ninth inning to clinch the 13-0 victory for the Ags.
The scoring began early for the Ags, with an RBI single by Boomer White that scored J.B. Moss in the bottom of the first. They added another run in the fourth on the back of an errant pick off attempt to first on which Nick Banks scored. Then in the fifth, the Aggies' offense exploded for seven runs, including the first of Ryne Birk's three RBI triples from the weekend, to push the lead to 9-0. Birk's second RBI triple of the weekend pushed the lead to 10-0 in the sixth, followed by a Walker Pennington single that scored Birk to make it 11-0. The Ags would add a run in each of the seventh and eighth to give them their final margin of victory of 13-0.
Sunday: A&M 10, Yale 2
Senior righty Kyle Simonds drew the Sunday start for the Ags, who gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks in four innings. He also used seven strikeouts to limit the damage by the Bulldogs. The first Yale run scored on an infield single to third in the second. The second run scored in a first-and-third situation in the fourth. The runner at first took off early and was thrown out 1-3-4. Unfortunately for Simonds and the Aggies, the runner at third scored while the defense was occupied with the runner at first. Sophomore Turner Larkins took over in the fifth and proceeded to throw three innings of scoreless baseball, while surrendering only two hits and striking out one. Starting in the eighth, Rob Childress decided to give his two star closers an inning of work apiece, starting with Ryan Hendrix. Hendrix struck out one in a hitless eighth, and Mark Ecker struck out two in a scoreless ninth to preserve a 10-2 victory. It's always nice when the only work your closer(s) get in a series is because they haven't been necessary all weekend, which is exactly what happened with Hendrix and Ecker.
Down 1-0 in the third, Ryne Birk started off the inning with a single and came home on a Ronnie Gideon RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Then in the seventh, down 2-1, Michael Barash led off the inning by reaching base thanks to a wild pitch on the third strike of the at-bat. Ryne Birk then took the Yale pitcher deep to right field to give A&M a 3-2 lead. The Aggies then rattled off eight more runs in the inning, including the third RBI triple for Birk (yes, hitting for the second time in the inning) of the weekend. Sunday started off slowly at the plate for the maroon and white, but the bats finally woke up just when they needed them to. The ability to throw up a crooked number in any game, much less multiple games where the pitching staff is struggling more than usual, is something that will benefit this team as it fights its way through the SEC.
Tuesday (6:30), Wednesday (6:30) - Northwestern State (6-5)
Texas A&M welcomes a Northwestern State team that won three games this past weekend in the Arizona Tournament, including taking down Arizona themselves on Friday night. Look for Corbin Martin, Brigham Hill or Stephen Kolek to toe the rubber for the Ags on either Tuesday or Wednesday.