HOOVER, Ala. – The No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies pounded out 14 hits in a seven-inning 'run-rule' win over the No. 6 Vanderbilt Commodores, 13-3, in SEC Baseball Tournament action Friday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The victory sends the Aggies to a semifinal contest against No. 10 Ole Miss at noon on Saturday.
Michael Barash led the Aggie hit parade, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Austin Homan batted 2-for-3 with one double, one run and three RBI. Nick Banks batted 2-for-4 with two runs, one home run and one RBI. Ryne Birk batted 2-for-4 with one double, two runs and one RBI.Kyle Simonds (9-3) earned the win for Texas A&M. He yielded three runs, just one earned, on six hits while logging a career-high with 10 strikeouts. He pitched his third complete-game of the season, the most for an Aggie since Ross Stripling logged five in 2012.
The Commodores pounced on the Aggies for a run in the top of the first inning. With one out, Jeren Kendall poked a single to right field and stole second base. After Bryan Reynolds swung and missed at strike three for the second out of the inning, Alonzo Jones gapped a double to right-center, knocking in Kendall for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies responded with their largest first-inning haul of the season, putting up seven runs in the home half of the frame. J.B. Moss and Banks started the inning with singles. After Boomer White flied out for the first out of the inning, Birk broke the scoring seal by slapping a single to leftfield. Barash followed by bouncing a single up the middle to score Banks, handing the Aggies a 2-1 lead.
After Jonathan Moroney swung and missed at strike three for the second out of the inning, Joel Davis laced a single through the left side of the infield, knocking in Birk. Hunter Melton followed with a wall-banger to right-center for a two-run double and Homan dropped a double down the rightfield line as Texas A&M's lead ballooned to 6-1. The scoring in the frame was capped off when Homan moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when the catcher's throw sailed down the leftfield line.
Texas A&M (43-14) tacked on two more runs in the third. Barash knocked a single back up the middle and Moroney reached on an infield single to start the inning. After Davis pushed both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, Barash scored on a wild pitch. Homan faked a squeeze bunt and slapped a ball down the leftfield line. Walker Gristanti made a heroic diving catch to rob Homan of an extra-base hit, but Moroney pranced home on the sacrifice fly to stake the Maroon and White to a 9-1 lead.
The Aggies mounted a two-out rally in the fourth. After two Texas A&M strikeouts, Birk roped a double to left-center and Barash followed with an RBI single to left as the gulf widened to 10-1.
Vanderbilt took advantage of an Aggie error to score two unearned runs in the top of the sixth. Jason Delay was hit by a pitch and Ethan Paul struck out swinging. First baseman Melton pounced on a grounder in the hole hit by Kendall, but his throw to second base sailed past the glove of shortstop Homan for an error. Reynolds made the Aggies pay for the miscue with a single through the right side to plate Delay and put Kendall on third. Jones knocked in Kendall with a sacrifice fly, cutting the Texas A&M lead to 10-3.
Banks hit a leadoff home run in the home half of the sixth, his seventh dinger of the year, to stretch the Texas A&M lead to 11-3.
The game ended in less than suspenseful walk-off fashion when the Aggies scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to invoke the tournament 10-run rule. Moroney reached on a throwing error by shortstop Connor Kaiser to start the inning and Walker Pennington followed with a single through the left side of the infield. Moroney moved to third on a fly out by Melton and scored on an infield single by Homan.
An ill-advised throw to first by the Kaiser after the ball caromed off the pitcher allowed Homan to move to second and Pennington advanced to third. The game ended on a fielding error by leftfielder Ro Coleman on a liner by Moss, who was credited with a sacrifice fly.
Kyle Wright (8-4) was saddled with the loss for Vanderbilt. He allowed 10 runs, nine earned, on 11 hits and one walk while striking out seven over 5.0 innings.