COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Texas A&M Athletics)– The Texas A&M Aggies used late-inning heroics for the second straight day to claim the series win over No. 5 LSU with Sunday’s 4-3 caging of the Tigers in front of 6,325 fans on at Blue Bell Park.
Sunday’s success on a sun-soaked Olsen Field came one day after Cole Lankford hit a walk-off single for the 3-2 win. A SportsCenter Top Play by LSU leftfielder Jared Foster in the Tigers’ 10-inning, 5-4, win on Friday was the only thing standing between the Aggies and the series sweep.
Texas A&M (30-19, 12-12 SEC) was aided by a strong performance on the mound by starting pitcher Grayson Long. The sophomore threw 6.0 innings, giving up seven hits and two runs while walking two and striking out three. Andrew Vinson (2-1) earned the win in relief, facing just six batters in the eighth and ninth innings, with the only base runner getting caught stealing.
Ronnie Gideon (3-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI) and Nick Banks (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) paced the offense with three-hits apiece.
Gideon provided the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning. With the game knotted at 3-3, the freshman led off the frame facing LSU closer Joe Broussard. Gideon gave Broussard’s first-pitch offering enough of a jolt to clear the leftfield fence by a foot, with the ball finding the glove of a leaping leftfielder Jake Fraley before hitting the pavement of Aggie Alley for the 4-3 advantage.
Pinch-hitter Chris Sciambra hit a lead-off single to start the bottom of the ninth, but he was gunned down at second by Troy Stein in a theft attempt. Andrew Vinson closed out the game with strikeouts of Conner Hale and Tyler Moore to cap off the conquest.
LSU (35-13-1, 13-10-1 SEC) was aided by the sun for the second-straight game in rightfield, en-route to an early lead. Andrew Stevenson led off the first with a triple that Banks lost in the sun. Mark Laird hit a sacrifice fly to center to knock in Stevenson and give the Tigers a 1-0 edge.
The Aggie freshman redeemed himself in the bottom of the first, however. Blake Allemand led off the inning with a single to left field and advanced to second on a groundout by Patrick McLendon. Lankford drove a ball to centerfield, allowing Allemand to move from second to third before Banks belted a ground-rule double to straightaway center, pushing across the equalizer.
LSU threatened again in the top of the third after Moore led off the frame with a double into the rightfield corner. Christian Ibarra grounded out to the right side of the infield to push more to third. A shallow popup by Stevenson and a groundout to first by Laird quelled the rally.
The Aggies put runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Lankford drew a leadoff walk an went first-to-third on a single through the right side by Banks. Ryne Birk struck out and Lankford was thrown out on a failed safety squeeze attempt. Stein flew out to center to end the frame.
LSU reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth on a leadoff home run to left by Hale for the 2-1 advantage.
The Maroon and White wasted no time in knocking over the cats' saucer of milk, however, scratching across the tying run in the bottom of the fifth off LSU reliever Cody Glenn. Gideon doubled down the leftfield line to open the inning and scored two pitches later when Jace Statum singled up the middle to knot the game at 2-2. Bratsen reached via an error by the Glenn on a grounder back to the mound, before Allemand lined out sharply to short for the first out of the inning. McLendon worked a walk to load the bases before the Tigers brought Zac Person on in relief. With the bases loaded, Lankford drove a ball to deep left field, scoring Statum on the sacrifice fly to give the Aggies their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2.
The Tigers clawed back to knot up the game at 3-3 in the top of the seventh. Hale led off the frame with a single up the middle to chase Long from the game. Ty Schlottmann entered in relief and made a diving catch on a bunt of the first batter he faced. Ibarra banged a double off the wall in left, allowing Hale to score the tying run. The lefty induced back-to-back groundouts to first to get out of the inning.
LSU nearly used all the king’s men on the mound with seven pitchers toeing the rubber. Starter Alden Cartwright allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out two over 4.0 innings. Broussard (3-1) was saddled with the loss, allowing one run on two hits in 1.1 innings of work.
Texas A&M will be in action again on Friday when it travels to Arkansas to conclude its SEC road slate. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 in Fayetteville. To learn more about the baseball team, visit AggieAthletics.com and follow @Aggie_Baseball on Twitter.