Ray leads Texas A&M to blanking of top-ranked Vanderbilt in SEC tourney
HOOVER, Alabama -- Texas A&M handed No. 1 Vanderbilt its first shutout of the season in a 5-0 blanking in the SEC tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Wednesday.
In just his fifth career start, Parker Ray (1-1) earned his first win of the season as he stymied Vanderbilt hitters through a career-high eight innings. Ray scattered three hits and three walks while striking out three. He walked the first batter of the ninth inning, but AJ Minter fanned Conrad Gregor and Jason Jester, inducing groundouts by Zander Wiel and Rhett Wiseman to complete the shutout.
The three pitchers combined to hold the Commodores to their lowest hit total of the season and it marked the first time Vanderbilt (48-8) had suffered a shutout since Mississippi State blanked the Commodores 3-0 in the SEC championship game last May.
On the offensive side of things, the Aggies registered three home runs in the game. Through the first seven games of the SEC tournament, A&M accounted for the only four home runs hit at the cavernous Hoover Met.
In the second inning, Hunter Melton hooked a 0-1 offering inside the left field foul pole for a one-out solo home run. It was Melton’s second home run of the tournament and his team-leading sixth of the season.
Texas A&M (32-25) staked claim to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when Cole Lankford made the score 2-0 of with a hit over the right field fence for a leadoff dinger.
The Aggies inflated the cushion to 3-0 in the fifth inning. With one out, Krey Bratsen bounced a single through the right side of the infield and stole second base. After Jace Statum struck out looking for the second out of the frame, Mikey Reynolds deposited a double into the gap in right centerfield, plating Bratsen.
Troy Stein joined the big-hit party in the sixth inning. With one out, he launched a full-count pitch down the left field line for his fifth home run of the season and a 4-0 lead.
The Aggies got an insurance run in the ninth. With one out, Daniel Mengden reached on an infield single and was replaced at first by pinch-runner JB Moss. A grounder to first base by Brandon Wood pushed Moss to second and he scored when second baseman Tony Kemp made an ill-advised throw on an in field single by Bratsen. The throw went wide of first base for an error and Moss raced home for the 5-0 lead.
The Vanderbilt bats were unable to save Walker Buehler (4-2) as the Commodore starter was saddled with the loss, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out six through six innings.