Texas A&M narrowly escaped being on the wrong end of a series sweep as the Aggies defeated Georgia 9-5 on Sunday.
Georgia (16-12-1, 3-5-1 Southeastern Conference) was in for a battle early as it continued to change leads with Texas A&M (18-11, 4-5 SEC) throughout the final game of the three-game series. Looking to avoid a sweep following losses on Friday and Saturday, the Aggies put the game away in the ninth inning. Texas A&M held only a 6-5 lead prior to that.
“It’s certainly unfortunate to lose today,” Georgia coach Scott Stricklin said. “(We) had such a great crowd and a great day to win and it just got away from us late.”
The Aggies made their mark in the top of the ninth as Jonathan Moroney led the charge with a double to center with one out, followed by a single from Krey Bratsen. Bratsen then reached second on a steal as Patrick McLendon struck out for the second out. Blake Allemand stepped to the plate to single to center and knock in Bratsen and Moroney. Allemand later scored as Cole Lankford singled to left.
Up until that point, neither team held a clear advantage in terms of momentum.
“Hitters did a good job working the counts,” Stephen Wrenn said. “Pitchers just need to make more pitches and they will, and they showed that they can.”
Redshirt senior Patrick Boling started on the mound for Georgia and pitched an efficient, scoreless first two innings. However, the third inning presented more of a challenge for the Winder, Ga. native when Texas A&M loaded the bases with no outs.
He forced Lankford to fly out to third baseman Hunter Cole for out one. Next, Mitchell Nau reached first on a fielder’s choice. Cole threw Allemand out at second for the second out of the inning. However, Bratsen scored the Aggies’ first run from third.
With two outs and a 3-2 count against Hunter Melton, Boling loaded the bases back up with a walk. That was Boling’s last pitch. He allowed one hit and three earned runs through 2.2 innings. Sophomore right-hander David Sosebee entered the game in relief duty.
Wrenn made a diving effort on a Nick Banks fly ball to center and it initially appeared to be out three. However, the inning wasn’t over. Banks landed a single to center, scoring Nau and McLendon to put the Aggies ahead 3-2.
With the game tied at four in the bottom of the fifth, Conor Welton doubled to center and as Nelson Ward reached base on a walk the following at-bat. Sophomore Jess Posey stepped to the plate to pinch hit for Bowers, and was walked.
With the bases loaded and no outs, this was Georgia’s chance to do irreversible damage.
Brandon Stephens struck out swinging for the first out, followed by a grounder to shortstop from Wrenn that scored Welton, advanced Ward to third, got Posey out at second and put Wrenn safely on first. The Bulldogs ended the bottom of the seventh with just one run scored, but took a 5-4 lead.
It was their last of the game.
“It’s disappointing, certainly to lose like that; to have a lead in the eighth and then to lose,” Stricklin said. “At the end of the day I’m proud of the way our kids fought.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday as they travel to Columbia, Mo. for a three-game series with SEC Eastern Division foe, Missouri.
CORRECTION: The headline has been changed to reflect Texas A&M’s victory.