COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M Baseball squad opened the 2013 season with a 2-0 loss to the UIC Flames on Friday evening on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Despite getting saddled with the loss, Texas A&M's pitchers put in a strong performance. Kyle Martin (0-1) had a solid outing in his first career start. He allowed two unearned runs on five hits while striking out 10 over 6.2 innings. Entering the contest his career-highs were 5.0 innings pitched and five strikeouts. In his first college appearance, Matt Kent retired both batters he faced in 0.2 innings of work and Jason Freeman allowed one hit while striking out one in 1.2 innings.
Tomas Michelson (1-0) earned the win for the Flames. He worked 7.1 shutout innings, scattering four hits and two walks while striking out five. Ian Lewandowski retired all four batters he faced in 1.1 innings, including one strikeout. Alex Posey picked up the save by recording the last out of the game.
UIC scored both of its runs in the third inning. Joe Betcher hit a single to rightfield to start the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Jurich and advanced to third on a passed ball. John Coen was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Alex De Larosa hit a ball into the gap in left centerfield where Krey Bratsen made a valiant dive but was unable to come up with the ball and Betcher scored on the RBI single. A fielding error by Blake Allemand on a grounder by Ryan Shober allowed the second run to score.
The Aggies put a runner in scoring position in three innings, but were unable to break the scoring seal. Jonathan Moroney got a leadoff infield single and moved to second on a one-out walk by Mikey Reynolds in the third inning, but Bratsen bounced into an inning ending double play. Troy Stein hit a two-out double in the fourth, but Cole Lankford hit a grounder to third to close out the frame. Moroney hit a leadoff double in the eighth, but a strikeout, groundout and pop foul down the leftfield cut the rally short.
Moroney went 2-for-3 with a double and Stein batted 2-for-4 with a double for the Aggies. De LaRosa paced the Flames going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Aggies and Flames return to action on Saturday with a 2:05 pm contest at Blue Bell Park.
Texas A&M Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: "It was a typical Friday night game. Michelson came in and pitched outstanding. He did a great job of keeping the ball down in the zone. We hit a couple of balls hard, they were just right at them. When we put the ball in play, they made all the routine plays and a couple of nice plays. In the third inning, we hit a guy; we give up an 0-2 hit; we had a chance to make a play defensively and we don't. Mistakes are going to happen. They didn't make one today. We had one and they made us pay for it. Give Coach Dee and their team a lot of credit
On Kyle Martin: "I was really proud of him. I couldn't have asked for anything more out of Kyle tonight. After that [third inning], he battled back and found a way to get us to the seventh inning. I thought he was fantastic. Every time he got into trouble late in the game he found a way to get out of it. The bullpen did an outstanding job as well. Our focus tomorrow will be coming out and evening the series."
On holding the runners: "Once Illinois-Chicago gets a lead, they're going to pressure you on the bases. You saw that tonight. Once they had the lead, they tried some hit and runs, some squeeze bunts to try and extend the lead. I thought we did a good job defending it aside from the one physical mistake. That's part of it."
On Illinois-Chicago's Tomas Michelson's performance: "He did a really good job of being above the baseball and keeping the ball down in the zone. He got a lot of groundballs. The second and third time through, he started establishing his secondary stuff. He wasn't overpowering, but he didn't have to be. It doesn't matter how hard you throw if you can change speeds and locate. That's exactly what he did tonight and he pitched great."
On Illinois-Chicago: "They've got an older bunch. They didn't have the kind of success they wanted last season so they came out this year with a chip on their shoulder. We had addressed it with our team all week. We knew what to expect. We got exactly what we expected out of Illinois-Chicago tonight."
On Jonathan Moroney: "I'm really proud of Jonathan. He's been fantastic for us the last three weeks. That's why he got the start tonight and he definitely didn't disappoint. I was really proud of him tonight."
On the bullpen: "Matt Kent came out, making his first career appearance tonight, and got both the guys he was supposed to get. Jason came in and gave us a shot."
On the matchup tomorrow: "I can't wait to get to the field tomorrow. I wish we were playing two right now. I'm looking forward to the challenge. Our whole focus is trying to even the series."
On the message to the team: "I wanted to go 56-0 but now that's not going to happen. Now our goal is to go 55-1 and that starts tomorrow."
SOPHOMORE CATCHER TROY STEIN
On Illinois-Chicago: "They're a great team. Their pitcher was outstanding. They made every play they needed to make. They stuck with it offensively, kind of like we did. It wasn't a great night to hit. They played great. We're going to play better tomorrow."
On Kyle Martin: "He had great stuff tonight. He was down in the zone. We're going to score more runs for him. We've got to be better offensively. He showed really good composure on the mound. There were times he got into trouble, but he kept his composure and was able to get out of jams."
SENIOR PITCHER KYLE MARTIN
On his performance: "I was just trying to throw strikes. Coach was calling a great game. Troy caught a great game. I was just trying to throw down the middle and let my defense work."
On battling nerves: "It's hard not to be a little nervous. I've been through just about everything here at A&M and even so I was still nervous."