HOOVER, Alabama – The Texas A&M Aggies gave up four unearned runs in a 6-4 loss to the No. 13 Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday evening at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Texas A&M was haunted by three errors in the contest. Starter Rafael Pineda (5-5) was saddled with the loss. He allowed five runs, two earned, on six hits, one walk and two hit batsmen while striking out five. Matt Kent retired three of the four batters he faced, all three with strikeouts in a scoreless inning of relief. Kyle Martin closed out the game by allowing just one unearned run on three hits over 3.1 innings.
Both teams benefitted from errors on potential double plays to put runs on the board in the first inning.
In the top half of the first inning, Mississippi State Adam Frazier bounced a lead-off single up the middle. After Adam Detz struck out looking for first out of the frame, Hunter Renfroe hit a sharp grounder to the hot corner. Third baseman Hunter Melton scooped it up and threw to second base where Blake Allemand was unable to corral the toss and runners ended up on the corners after the error. The Bulldogs staked claim to a 1-0 lead when Brett Pirtle knocked in Frazier with a slow groundout between the mound and first base.
Texas A&M (32-26) got some help of its own in the bottom half of the first. Mikey Reynolds hit a leadoff single off the glove of Mississippi State first baseman Wes Rea. Allemand followed with a grounder to Frazier at short. Frazier threw to second, but Pirtle was unable to keep the ball in his mitt, putting runners on the corners. Cole Lankford knocked Reynolds in with a fielder choice grounder to second base, knotting the score at 1-1. For the fourth time in the tournament, a Hunter Melton hit gave the Aggies the lead in a game. This time he roped a single to leftfield, plating Lankford for the 2-1 advantage.
The Bulldogs tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth. Pirtle was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to third with one out when Demarcus Henderson singled through the left side of the infield on a hit-and-run play. Nick Ammirati tallied the equalizer with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, driving in Pirtle.
Mississippi State (43-16) captured its first lead of the game in the top of the fifth. Frazier stroked a leadoff single to right field and Detz followed with a single through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners. After Renfroe struck out for the first out of the inning, Pirtle snuck a ball under the glove of Pineda to knock in Frazier for the 3-2 lead. With two outs, Henderson drew a walk to load the bases. It appeared as though Ammirati ended the inning with a grounder to first, but it scooted under the glove of Lankford for an error, allowing Detz and Pirtle to come home for the 5-2 lead.
Texas A&M offered an immediate response with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Chance Bolcerek laced a single to the gap in left centerfield and Krey Bratsen poked a single to right field to start the inning. Jace Statum pushed both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. After Reynolds popped up for the second out of the inning, Allemand roped a single to rightfield to drive in two runs and trim the Mississippi State lead to 5-4.
The Bulldogs got the help of an error to add an insurance run in the eighth. With two outs, Derrick Anderson reached on a bunt single. The mercurial Anderson stole second and moved to third when Troy Stein and Allemand were unable to connect on the putout attempt. Frazier sent Anderson home with an infield single to shortstop for the 6-4 cushion.
Mississippi State starter Kendall Graveman didn’t factor in the decision. He allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits while striking out two. Ross Mitchell (11-0) earned the win out of the bullpen, allowing just one walk while striking out one over 3.1 scoreless innings. Jonathan Holder retired all three batters he faced in the ninth inning with one strikeout to earn his 16th of the season.
Melton was the lone Aggie to register multiple hits going 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Frazier paced Mississippi State at the plate going 4-for-5 with two runs, one double and one RBI. Pirtle went 2-for-4 with one hit-by-pitch, two runs and two RBI.
The Aggies return to action on Friday evening when they face the No. 1 Vanderbilt Commodores in an elimination game at the Hoover Met. The contest will start 30 minutes after the completion of the 3 pm contest between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 2 LSU Tigers.