Aggies Drop Regular-Season Finale at Tennessee, 7-5
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Texas A&M Aggies were unable to sustain a 5-1 lead and dropped a 7-5 decision to the Tennessee Volunteers in the regular-season finale at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Aggies roughed up Volunteer starter Dalton Saberhagen from the get-go. Mikey Reynolds legged out a double on a hit to the right centerfield gap and Blake Allemand laced a single through the left side of the infield to put runners on the corners. Cole Lankford launched a first-pitch offering over the rightfield fence for his second home run of the season and a 3-0 lead just three batters into the game.
Tennessee (22-30, 8-20 SEC) bounced back to trim a run off the lead in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, AJ Simcox singled to rightfield and stole second base. A groundout by Will Maddox pushed Simcox to third and he scored when Scott Price threaded a single through the right side of the infield, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Texas A&M (30-25, 13-16 SEC) claimed the run back in the top of the second when Krey Bratsen launched a 1-2 pitch over the leftfield fence for a lead-off home run, his first dinger of the season and the second of his career.
The Aggies increased the advantage to 5-1 with a run in the fourth. Daniel Mengden bounced a leadoff single up the middle. With one out, Kratsen doubled down the rightfield line to put two runners in scoring position. Jace Statum drew a walk to load the bases and driving Saberhagen from the game. Allemand lined a ball off the glove of reliever Eric Martin to plate Mengden for the four-run lead.
The Volunteers trimmed two runs off the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Price was the catalyst of the rally hitting a leadoff single to the gap in right centerfield. Ethan Bennett followed with a single to rightfield. A fielder’s choice grounder by Christin Stewart forced Bennett out at second and put runners on the corners. Taylor Smart drove in Price with a double down the rightfield line. After Jeff Moberg was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Parker Wormsley smoked a ball to the hot corner where Hunter Melton made a heroic stab to prevent a multi-run double. Melton got to his feet to make the putout at third, but Stewart scored to cut the lead to 5-3.
Tennessee claimed its first lead of the game in the seventh. Moberg and Wormsley singled to start the inning and Zach Luther put down a sacrifice bunt to push both runners into scoring position. Simcox tripled to the gap in right centerfield to tie the score at 5-5 and scored the go-ahead run on a single through the left side of the infield by Price.
The Vols tacked on an insurance run in the eighth. Bennett was hit by a pitch to start the inning and replaced at first by pinch-runner Heath Loyd. Stewart followed with a five-pitch walk. A sacrifice bunt by Smart pushed both runners into scoring position and Loyd scored on a wild pitch, inflating the cushion to 7-5.
Bratsen paced the Aggies offense hitting 3-for-4 with one double, one home run, one run and one RBI. Allemand went 2-for-5 with one run and one RBI.
Price led the Volunteers at the plate going 3-for-4 with one run and two RBI. Simcox batted 2-for-4 with one triple, two runs, two RBI and one stolen base.
Jason Freeman (1-2) was saddled with the loss, yielding three runs on four hits in 1.1 innings of relief. Starter Rafael Pineda worked 5.0 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out three over 5.0 innings.
Eric Martin (1-0) picked up the win out of the bullpen for Tennessee. He pitched 4.0 scoreless innings, scattering four hits while striking out four. Trevor Charpie earned his second save of the season, with one strikeout in 1.2 scoreless innings.
Texas A&M moves on to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The Aggies, who enter the fray as the No. 9 seed, will play No. 8 seed Florida in a 4:30 pm contest on Tuesday.