COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M received a stout pitching performance from starter Daniel Mengden and Jason Jester tied a single-season record with his 13th save as the Aggies posted a 2-1 win over the No. 3 LSU Tigers in Thursday evening’s series opener on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Mengden (6-3) allowed just one run, scattering five hits and two hit batsmen while striking out five over 8.0 innings.
It marked the second consecutive week in which he earned the win in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel. Last Friday, Mengden logged a career-high 10 strikeouts in 8.0 innings against Missouri.
Mengden helped his own cause on defense in the fourth inning of a scoreless contest. With runners on the corners following a one-out double by Alex Bregman, a wild pitch and a hit batsmen, the Aggies’ northpaw snagged a line drive back to the mound by Christian Ibarra and tossed over to first to complete the double play and keep the sheet clean.
The Tigers drew first blood in the top of the sixth. With one out, Raph Rhymes singled up the middle and came around to score when Bregman dropped a double down the leftfield line. LSU (43-7, 19-6 SEC) got two runners on base when Mason Katz was hit by a pitch, but fly outs by Ibarra and Ty Ross snuffed out the rally.
Texas A&M (27-22, 11-13 SEC) left runners on base in five of the first six innings, but finally broke the scoring seal in the home half of the seventh. Brandon Wood pounded a leadoff single through the left side of the infield to start the rally and Jonathan Moroney reached on a fielding error by Bregman at shortstop to put two runners on. Krey Bratsen pushed a bunt single down the third-base line and Wood came around to score on a throwing error by the third baseman Ibarra. With runners at the corners, Mikey Reynolds laced a single through the right side of the infield, plating Moroney and the Aggies staked claim to a 2-1 lead.
Mengden set down the Tigers in order in the eighth, setting it up for Jester in the ninth.
Jester retired all three batters he faced, including a strikeout of slugger Katz, who entered the contest with a team-high 13 home runs, to start the frame. The Hallsville, Texas-native tied the A&M single-season record of 13 saves set by Scott Beerer in 2003.
The game was mired by rain. The first pitch was delayed 1:46 from the scheduled 8:03 pm first pitch and was halted twice with stoppages of 17 and nine minutes in the 10-o’clock hour.
Cody Glenn (5-2) was saddled with the loss for the Tigers. He allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and three walks while striking out four over 6.2 innings.
Bratsen went 2-for-2 with one sacrifice bunt to lead the Aggies.
Rhymes and Bregman each had two hits to lead the Tigers. Bregman was 2-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI. Rhymes went 2-for-4 with one run and one double.
The Aggies and Tigers return to action on Friday with a 6:35 pm contest at Blue Bell Park.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: “I’m really proud of both teams staying ready to play. It was a well-played Thursday night game. I think we’re seeing Daniel Mengden grow up on the job and be the guy that leads us into the weekend. Last week was his best performance in an A&M uniform and he came back and validated that against a great lineup. We played great defense behind him. Mikey Reynolds made two amazing plays. We were able to crack through and score a couple runs. Daniel and Jason Jester made it stand up.”
On spreading out LSU’s hits to prevent a big inning: “We spaced them out. They didn’t string a whole lot of hits together. LSU’s team is like murderers row. A starter going through their lineup three times is a tall task. That just goes to show how good Daniel was tonight.”
On the defensive performance: “All the outfielders made outstanding plays, some of them with driving rain and bats flying around and on the dirt I thought we played good defense as well.”
Sophomore pitcher Daniel Mengden
On the weather: “Mother Nature gave us a little bit of a speed bump there at first. Coach told us to just stay ready. We knew that we had to get it in.”
On his performance: “I had a much better start this weekend than last weekend. An eight pitch first inning is a lot better than a 35 pitch first inning. I used the fastball to set up the breaking stuff. I really just let the defense play behind me. They were outstanding tonight.”
Senior shortstop Mikey Reynolds
On driving in the go-ahead run: “It wasn’t pretty. I really wanted to get that hit because I stranded two runners on base earlier. That pitch was on the outside and I saw it earlier. I just wanted to poke it through.”
Junior pitcher Jason Jester
On the weather: “For us, we just had to stay focused and not get sidetracked mentally. We’ve been playing well. We’re hot right now and we want to keep that going.”
On facing the heart of the order to get the save: “Facing competition like that gets me psyched up. Katz is a great hitter. Their whole team is. That’s a good ball club. You’ve got to tip your cap to them. I just try and do whatever I can to help the team win. Mike got a big hit. I just want to do whatever I can to help and grind for my teammates.”
On tying the team record for saves in a season: “It went smoothly. I was a little nervous. I’m very humbled and very blessed to be in this situation and have this opportunity. I’m a part of something that’s bigger than me: I know that those guys that came before me set this path. I’m humbled and blessed to be able to put this jersey on.”