COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M edged Georgia 4-1 in front of a Blue Bell Park crowd of 5,403 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both clubs Friday.
The Aggies (12-7, 1-0 SEC) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out infield single by designated hitter Mitchell Nau. It scored Krey Batesen who reached on a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. A leadoff walk to Daniel Mengden eventually scored after a hit and a couple of bunts to give the Aggies a 2-0 advantage in the second.
Georgia (8-10, 0-1 SEC) got on the board in the sixth but missed out on a big inning after getting three hits including a double and a walk in the frame. Freshman first baseman Daniel Nichols registered his third hit of the night, a career-high, with a two-out double and came around to score. After a walk to Brett DeLoach, sophomore Jared Walsh lined an RBI-single to left to make it 2-1. Martin then retired Bowers to maintain the Aggie lead. Georgia threatened in the seventh as Texas A&M went to the bullpen.
Sophomore Nelson Ward extended his hitting streak to 11 with a one-out double. After Curt Powell drew a walk, the Aggies turned to Parker Ray to face senior Kyle Farmer. The Bulldog shortstop lined one off Ray, who eventually collected it and retired Farmer as the runners moved into scoring position. It marked the sixth time this season that a Georgia player has lined one off a pitcher who recorded an out on the play. Ray then closed out the frame by getting sophomore Hunter Cole to pop out. Georgia went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position Friday.
“We have to grow up, mature and get better,” Georgia coach David Perno said in a news release. “Texas A&M pitched well and made some really good plays defensively and you have to give them credit. Sean (McLaughlin) really settled in and gave us a chance and Nichols hit the ball really well. However for the second straight game, we left a lot guys on base and could not get any big hits. We’re 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position in our last two games. We missed our chance for a big inning and that’s unfortunate because Sean could’ve gone the whole way possibly if we get him some runs. We almost took him out in the sixth, and he wanted to go one more.”
McLaughlin went a career-high seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts. He dropped to 3-1 while Aggie senior Kyle Martin improved to 2-2, allowing just one run on seven hits in 6.1 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Texas A&M turned to its closer Jason Jester to start the eighth. Nichols reached on an error by the first baseman but then was erased when DeLoach bounced in to a double play. It was the first of the night for the Aggies defense while Georgia turned three to end the fourth, fifth and sixth frames. Jester tossed two scoreless innings for his fifth save.
Friday marked the the inaugural league game for the Aggies. Texas A&M shortstop Mikey Reynolds extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a bunt single in the eighth. The Aggies struck for a pair of runs off senior Blake Dieterich and Palmer Betts. Dieterich had to leave the game in the eighth with an unspecified injury and, according to Perno, will be out possibly a week.
The series continues Saturday with first pitch slated for 3:05 p.m. Georgia will start junior left-hander Patrick Boling (1-2, 4.37 ERA) while the Aggies counter with sophomore right-hander Daniel Mengden (3-1, 2.03 ERA).