COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies scored in each of the first five innings and cruised to a 12-2 win over the UTPA Broncs in Tuesday evening’s run-rule shortened, seven-inning affair on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies registered eight extra-base hits on the evening, including six doubles, one triple and one home run. A&M notched a season-high with 17 hits as the first six batters in the order recorded multiple-hit games and all nine starters registered at least one hit.
Cole Lankford went 3-for-4 with three doubles, two runs and two RBI to lead the hit parade. Hunter Melton also logged three hits, going 3-for-4 with one double, one triple, two runs and two RBI. Mikey Reynolds scored four runs, going 2-for-3 with his first home run of the season and his first career dinger at Blue Bell Park. Blake Allemand, Troy Stein and Daniel Mengden each added two hits.
The Aggies pounced on the Broncs early with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Reynolds followed with a double to the gap in right centerfield to put two runners in scoring position. Lankford plated Reynolds with a sacrifice fly to centerfield and A&M staked claim to a 1-0 lead.
The Maroon and White tacked on another run in the second inning. Mengden came up inches shy of a home run with a wall-banger to leftfield for a leadoff double, moved to third on a groundout by Mitchell Nau and scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Krey Bratsen for the 2-0 advantage.
The cavalcade of runs continued with four runs in the third inning. The frame was highlighted by an RBI triple by Melton and an RBI single by Bratsen.
Texas A&M (28-24) busted the Broncs with three runs in the fourth to inflate the cushion to 9-0. Lankford hit an RBI double, Stein tallied an RBI single and Melton scored on a passed ball to account for the runs.
Reynolds launched a 2-0 offering over the leftfield fence for a solo home run and a 10-0 lead.
UTPA (24-27) broke the scoring seal in the sixth inning when Alberto Morales sent a 2-1 pitch over the leftfield wall for a solo home run. The Broncs added a run in the seventh when Will Klausing scored on a groundout by Shane Klemcke, trimming the Aggie lead to 10-2.
The Aggies ended the contest in the seventh when they scored two runs to invoke the predetermined 10-run role. Melton plated a run with a single and Stein ended the contest with an RBI single of his own.
Pitching for the first time since April 16, Grayson Long (4-1) earned the win, allowing one run on two hits and three walks while striking out three over 6.0 innings. It marked the longest outing of his career.
Matt Daniels (1-6) was saddled with the loss for UTPA. He allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits and one walk over 2.2 innings.
Texas A&M returns to action with a three-game series in Knoxville against the Tennessee Volunteers starting Thursday at 5 pm Central.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Rob Childress
Opening Statement: “We played really well tonight. I’m proud of the guys. We showed up ready to play. Grayson Long had a great start. We were able to score early and continue to extend the lead. We seized the momentum and never gave it back. This was just what the doctor ordered.”
On the challenge ahead of the team: “This is a great way to head to Tennessee. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves. We have a tough challenge ahead of us, but this was exactly what we needed tonight.”
On pitching: “We’re going to need all our pitching the rest of the way. The guys that we’re taking, we’re going to need them all. It’s all about taking them one game at a time and preparing for Thursday night against Tennessee.”
On the offensive performance tonight: “We swung the bats really well tonight. Even some of our outs were loud outs. I’m really proud of our guys.”
On playing to make the postseason: “I think we’ve been playing that way for the last two weeks. I see it in our guys. They show up ready to get after it. I’m really proud of them.”
Senior shortstop Mikey Reynolds
On scoring so many runs tonight: “Runs are fun. When it’s fun, you’re confident. You believe in yourself. We’re just out there having fun and it ended up good for us tonight.”
On his home run: “I saw two pitches out of the zone and I knew he had to come with a fastball in the 2-0 count. The wind was howling out of here. I was able to get it up and the wind pushed it out. I didn’t think it was gone, but the wind carried it.”
On the team’s momentum: “We’re just playing some good baseball. We had a great series against LSU. We would’ve liked to win two out of three. We have the momentum right now and we’re looking to build that into the Tennessee series.”
On Grayson Long’s performance on the mound: “That’s what Grayson needed tonight. He’s a big-time pitcher and hopefully tonight was a big confidence boost for him.”
On getting into the postseason: “We have to play our butts off to get into a regional and that’s what we plan to do because we want to get there, especially me as a senior.”
Sophomore first baseman Cole Lankford
On getting three doubles in the game: “It feels great. I got lucky and found some holes. I think everyone hit the ball well and hit the ball hard. It’s just a good team win. It’s awesome when everyone’s crushing the ball.”
On getting the offense rolling: “I think it’s huge for us to get the ball going. We played well this past weekend. Guys battled all weekend. Everyone’s swinging the bat well. We’re excited to get to Tennessee. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and see what happens.”
On Grayson Long’s performance: “Grayson competed well all night. He let one get away from him but that’s baseball. You’re going to have ups and downs, but he came back and got the next guy. He did an unbelievable job tonight. He deserves all the credit.”