Power Surge Lifts Aggies over Tech 7-2
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Senior first baseman Jacob House connected on a pair of home runs Saturday afternoon as the ninth-ranked Texas A&M baseball team powered past Texas Tech 7-2 in front of 4,775 fans at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Junior left fielder Brandon Wood and sophomore center fielder Krey Bratsen also homered for the Aggies who connected on four long balls as a team, the most since hitting five against FIU during the NCAA Coral Gables Regional on June 4, 2010.
The benefactor of the Aggie offense was starting pitcher Ross Stripling (8-2), who more than held his own on the mound. The right-hander struck out 13 batters while walking none in eight innings of work, limiting the Red Raiders to just one earned run on four hits.
Stripling also etched his name among the elite pitchers in program history during the victory as he collected his 300th career strikeout, joining an exclusive group of only three other pitchers to reach the milestone while wearing the Maroon & White. The distinction puts him in a category with Casey Fossum (404 strikeouts from 1997-99), Jeff Granger (401 strikeouts from 1991-93) and teammate Michael Wacha, who recorded his 300th career strikeout on Friday during the opener of the Tech series.
With the victory, Texas A&M (34-13; 13-7 Big 12) moved into a second place tie with Texas in the Big 12 standings. Tech, meanwhile, fell to 26-24 overall with a 5-15 league mark.
After the Red Raiders took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the top of the first, the Aggies quickly responded during their first turn at bat. Junior right fielder Tyler Naquin kick started a two-out rally with a double to left and House followed with the day's first home run, giving the Aggies a 2-1 advantage.
"I was real proud of our team," Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "It was a hot, humid day. They took 30 pitches from Ross in the first inning and got us on our heels but we came right back and answered with a big two-out, two-run home run by Jacob House."
The blast by House over the right field wall traveled an estimated 371 feet.
During the bottom of the second, Bratsen got into the long ball act as he connected on his first collegiate home run with a two-run blast down the left field line.
"I was glad (to finally hit the home run); it's always been a dream of mine," Bratsen said. "The last couple games, I've been struggling so it was good to finally get a hit again ... It's a great feeling. Texas Tech is a good team, but we're trying to win out right now. If we want to host a regional here, we're going to have to keep winning."
Tech cut the lead down to 4-2 during the top of the fourth with a sacrifice fly from first baseman Stephen Hagen, but during the bottom of the inning the Aggies again used the long ball to light up the scoreboard as Wood led off the frame with a solo blast to left.
Senior second baseman Scott Arthur added an RBI single in the inning to give the Aggies a 6-2 advantage.
House notched his second home run of the afternoon and team-leading seventh of the season with one-out in the bottom of the fifth, driving a 2-2 offering from Tech starter Rusty Shellhorn (5-3) over the wall in right field.
It was the first multi-home run game by an Aggie since Matt Juengel accomplished the feat against Texas on May 29, 2010, during play at the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.
"I got some good pitches to hit," House said. "He left some fastballs out over the plate and our guys were attacking the fastballs and were able to get some big hits."
The series concludes on Sunday as the Aggies send Rafael Pineda to the mound in what will be the final Big 12 Conference game on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. The Red Raiders will counter with right-hander Trey Masek (1-4, 3.43) in the contest which is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.