Aggie Pitchers Dominate Gators On Five Hits

An old fashioned pitchers duel between Texas A&M right hander Kyle Nicholson and Florida ace Bryan Ball gave way in the ninth as the Aggies put up three runs to shut out the Gators 4-0 Friday night before 3,915 at McKethan Stadium. With the loss, the Gators dropped to 8-5.

Aggie pitchers Nicholson, Jason Meyer, and Jordan Chambless kept the Florida hitters off balance for much of the night en route to the game one victory in the three game series. The trio combined for a five-hit shutout.

The Aggies got the only run they needed in the top of the first inning. With one out, Ball walked Blake Stouffer on four consecutive pitches. He moved to third on Jose Salazar's ground ball out of the reach of Florida second baseman Matt Gaski. Stouffer scored on clean-up hitter Austin Boggs fly ball to left.

Ball (2-2) held the Aggies scoreless until the ninth, at one point retiring 15 consecutive batters. He had tremendous movement on his pitches and really made many of the Texas A&M hitters look bad from the latter half of the fourth through the ninth, pitching no-hit baseball.

"The first couple of innings I wasn't real comfortable on the mound," Ball said. "That was probably obvious. I didn't really have good stuff. But, I started settling in getting comfortable."

Texas A&M countered with Nicholson, who did a terrific job early of hitting his spots and mixing the speed of his pitches. He had good movement on his breaking ball and got the Aggies off to a good start for the first three innings.

"He mixed it up real well," Brian Leclerc said. "Right now, we're just not swinging it as well as we are pretty soon. Our pitch recognition wasn't very good. He dominated the strike zone and did what teams have been doing to beat us."

Offensively, Florida began to manufacture some success against him in the fourth. Gavin Dickey ripped his second hit of the game with one out. Two pitches later, he rounded second and attempted to move to third on Brian Leclerc's single just over the glove of shortstop Parker Dalton. However, A&M centerfielder John Infante threw a strike to third baseman Austin Boggs cutting down Dickey for Florida's second out of the inning.

Leclerc moved to second on the play. First baseman Austin Pride worked Nicholson from a 1-2 count for a walk to keep the inning alive. However, Brian Jeroloman hit a ball to center for the third out.

The Gators squandered their best scoring opportunities over the next two innings, leaving runners stranded at third base each inning as the final out was recorded.

Designated hitter Cody Neer led off the fifth reaching on an error by Salazar. David Cash moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt as the Gators played small ball. Neer moved to third on Matt Gaski's ground out but was left stranded when Stephen Barton popped the ball up to third.

Adam Davis and Dickey led off the sixth with pop ups in the infield. Leclerc then singled through the middle of the infield. Nicholson tried to pick Leclerc off first but his throw sailed into foul territory in right field with Leclerc advancing all the way to third. However, Pride struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the Florida threat.

The Gators popped out to the infield six times from the fourth through the eighth inning.

"He was real sharp through like five or six," Leclerc stated. "Later on, that's when we should have taken advantage … when he started losing control a little bit. That's when you've got take advantage, especially when you're struggling offensively."

The proverbial wheels fell off for Florida in the top of the ninth inning. The Gator pitchers surrendered two hits and two walks, one intentional, which produced three runs for the Aggies.

Five pitches into the ninth and Florida was down to its' final out, a fly out to right field on a 3-2 count to Pride.

The teams will play tomorrow at 2 p.m. Texas A&M (12-1) will start freshman right hander Kyle Thebeau (1-0, 1.17) against super sophomore Brian Augenstein (3-0, 1.21).

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