HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies erased an 8-1 deficit, but were unable to get over the hump in a 9-8 loss to Sam Houston State in 11 innings at Don Sanders Stadium.
Aggie freshman Hunter Melton sent the game to extra innings with a clutch hit in the ninth inning. Trailing 8-7 with two outs in the ninth, Brandon Wood reached on a fielding error by Bearkats third baseman Kevin Miller and Mitchell Nau followed with a single up the middle to put a pair on. Melton roped a first-pitch offering to right field to drive in Wood with the tying run and put pinch-runner JB Moss on third. The go-ahead run was snuffed out when Moss was thrown out at home on a double-steal attempt.
A&M got two runners on base in the 11th inning, but were unable to score the go-ahead run. Krey Bratsen was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Blake Allemand. The Bearkats intentionally walked Troy Stein to set up the potential double play. Wood struck out looking and pinch-hitter Daniel Mengden popped up to the third baseman to end the inning.
Sam Houston State (21-15) took advantage of a free out to score the winning run in the 11th. Hayden Simerly beat out a bang-bang play at first to start the frame. Wyatt Powell pinch-ran for Simerly and stole second base. Luke Plucheck swung at a pinch in the dirt for strike three, but it got away from Aggie catcher Stein to put runners on the corners. The Aggies intentionally walked Greg Olson to set up the force play at home, but it was to no avail as Plumlee lifted a 1-1 pitch to rightfield, scoring Powell on the sacrifice fly and the 9-8 victory.
Trailing 8-1, the Aggies slowly began chipping away at the lead in the fifth when Melton hit a moon shot to leftfield for a leadoff home run, cutting the Bearkats lead to 8-2.
In the sixth, Allemand was hit by a pitch and Stein singled to leftfield to start the inning. Brandon Wood was issued a six-pitch walk to load the bases and Mitchell Nau followed with a single through the right side of the infield to plate two runs and cut the lead to 8-4. Jason Simms came in to relieve Bearkats starter Tyler Eppler and recorded two strikeouts and a groundout to avoid further damage in the inning.
The Aggies harvested three more runs in the seventh to cut the Sam Houston State advantage to 8-7. Jace Statum drew a four-pitch walk and Bratsen doubled down the rightfield line to put two runners in scoring position. After Allemand drew a seven-pitch walk to load the bases, Simms uncorked a wild pitch to allow Statum to score. Stein followed with an RBIN single to rightfield and Nau hit a grounder to third to plate Allemand and deflate the Bearkats cushion to one run, setting up Melton’s heroics in the ninth.
In the top of the second inning, Texas A&M jumped out the an early lead when Troy Stein launched a first-pitch offering over the leftfield wall for a leadoff home run, staking the Aggies to a 1-0 lead.
Sam Houston State responded with three runs in the home half of the second. Simerly was issued a six-pitch walk and Luke Plucheck was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Ryan O’Hearn put the equalizer on the board with a single through the right side of the infield to plate Simerly. Romeo Cortina laced a double down the leftfield line to drive in Plucheck for the go-ahead run, chasing Aggie starter Grayson Long from the game. Jessie Plumlee capped off the scoring in the frame, threading a single through the left side of the infield to push O’Hearn across for the 3-1 lead.
The Bearkats kept the momentum going with a four-run third inning. Carter Burgess reached on a fielding error by Aggie third baseman Logan Taylor to start the inning. Miller followed with a single through the left side of the infield and a throw to third allowed both runners to get in scoring position. Simerly hit a 0-1 pitch over the rightfield fence to give the Bearkats a 6-1 lead. Plucheck doubled down the leftfield line and scored when Colt Atwood singled through the left side of the infield, giving SHSU a six-run margin.
In the bottom of the fourth, Sam Houston State tacked on what would become an important insurance run. Burgess reached on an infield single and Miller singled through the right side of the infield to start the inning with runners on the corners. With one out, Plucheck put down a perfectly placed squeeze bunt resulting in an RBI single, giving the Bearkats an 8-1 lead.
Stein and Melton each had three hits for the Aggies. Stein went 3-for-5 with two runs, one home run and two RBI. Melton went 3-for-5 with one run, one double, one home run and two RBI. Mitchell Nau went 2-for-5 with three RBI.
Simerly and Plucheck led the Sam Houston State attack with three hits apiece. Simerly went 3-for-5 with two runs, one home run and three RBI. Plucheck went 3-for-5 with one double, one run and one RBI. Atwood, Miller and Cortina each logged two hits.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Long worked 1.0 innings plus three batters in the second, yielding three runs on two hits and three walks. Eppler worked 5.0 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five.
Jester (2-2) was saddled with the loss despite the valiant effort. He allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out three over 2.2 innings.
Alan Scott (1-0) earned the win in relief. He worked 2.1 scoreless innings with one walk and one strikeout.
The Aggies return to action Friday when they travel to Fayetteville for a three-game SEC series against the Arkansas Razorbacks.