Three weeks ago, the Aggie baseball team looked like they had been left for dead. They managed to stave off their second consecutive sweep to start their conference season, taking the series finale from Vanderbilt 6-4. They were 1-5 in the SEC at that point, and they seemed like they were just falling apart. Fast-forward to April 15, Mitchell Kilkenny punches out Tide 1B Cody Henry to cap off a three-game sweep of Alabama, and all of a sudden the Aggies are a game over .500 in conference play at 8-7.
This team has been resilient. Since the 17-3 drubbing they took in Game Two of the Vandy series, they’ve rattled off eight wins in their last 10 conference games, and 11 of their last 13 overall. It would be easy to look at this weekend’s series and think that A&M merely took care of business, which is exactly what they needed to do if they want to put themselves squarely back in the thick of the SEC West race. But the importance of sweeping an SEC series on the road cannot be understated. They’re now just three games back of Arkansas in the division at the halfway mark of the conference season, with series still to against two teams ahead of them in the standings (Arkansas and Mississippi State). If they can hold serve against their two remaining eastern opponents, the Ags are very much within striking distance of the division crown.
Thursday: Texas A&M 9, Alabama 5
- The Aggies jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Nick Choruby tripled to open the game, and scored on a failed pickoff attempt. Then the floodgates opened. Joel Davis followed with an RBI single, and an error by the Bama CF allowed an extra run to score. Walker Pennington then singled Davis home to cap off the four-run opening frame.
- Brigham Hill was not sharp. In just three and two-thirds innings, he allowed all five Bama runs on eight hits and a walk. The bullpen, however, was excellent. Cason Sherrod and Kaylor Chafin combined for five and a third innings of one-hit, shutout baseball that kept A&M from completely giving the series opener away on a silver platter. Fantastic effort by Sherrod and Chafin.
- The Tide committed five errors on the night, including three from their usually-sure-handed shortstop, Chandler Avant. Only four of the nine A&M runs were earned.
Friday: Texas A&M 8, Alabama 2
- Corbin Martin was very, very good in this one. In seven innings, he allowed one run on just four hits and two walks, while punching out five. It really looks like the junior right-hander is starting to put it all together on the mound.
- After drawing first blood in the top of the first for the second consecutive game, the Aggie offense exploded for four runs in the third. Already a run home in the frame, Cole Bedford blasted a no-doubt shot over the wall in left, extending the lead to 5-0. In total, Bedford tallied four hits on the night.
Saturday: Texas A&M 3, Alabama 2
- Alabama struck first in this one, when RF Chandler Taylor doubled home the first run of the ballgame in the first inning. From there, the Aggie pitching staff went to work. Stephen Kolek grinded out 5.2 innings of one-run ball, giving up eight hits, no walks, and striking out seven. Kaylor Chafin, still doing his very good Matt Kent impression, posted two hitless innings, before giving way to Mitchell Kilkenny, who picked up his fifth save of the season.
- Alabama starter Nick Eicholtz pitched a whale of a game. In six innings, he allowed just one Aggie hit and struck out six. But he also walked four hitters, and threw 109 pitches, leading to his exit from the game.
- Once Eicholtz left the game, things got much better for the Aggie hitters. With two outs in the seventh, Blake Kopetsky singled and Austin Homan walked to bring up George Janca. Janca then blasted his fourth three-run homer of the season to left, giving the Ags a 3-1 lead.
The Aggies will travel up the road to Arlington tomorrow night to take on UT-Arlington at 6:30 pm. The Mavericks are 19-17 on the season, but have won five of their last six games.