The Texas A&M Aggies were unable to take advantage of a strong starting performance by freshman pitcher Grayson Long and dropped a 3-2 decision to the South Carolina Gamecocks in SEC baseball action on Thursday evening at Carolina Stadium.
In his first career conference start, Long did not yield a hit through his first five innings. He ended the game with a no-decision, allowing two runs on one hit and three walks while striking out five over 5.2 innings.
Texas A&M (18-9, 5-2 SEC) owned a 10-5 advantage in the hits column, but the Aggie batters were doomed by 17 strikeouts.
The Aggies drew first blood in the top of the third inning. After Jace Statum was caught stealing for the second out of the inning, Mikey Reynolds drove a double down the leftfield line and scored when Krey Bratsen knocked a single back up the middle for the 1-0 lead.
Texas A&M added to the lead in the top of the fourth. Troy Stein legged out a double on a hit down the leftfield line and Cole Lankford singled through the right side of the infield to put runners on the corners to start the inning. Daniel Mengden knocked Stein home with a fielder's choice groundout to the shortstop and the Aggies staked claim to a 2-0 lead.
With Long cruising through the first five innings, Tanner English took a pitch on the arm to lead off the sixth. With two outs, Joey Pankake singled up the middle to put runners at the corners. The Aggies went to the bullpen and called on AJ Minter. LB Dantzler hit a 3-2 offering from Minter deep into the left centerfield gap to knock in both runners and tie the game at 2-2.
South Carolina (20-6, 3-4 SEC) took its first lead of the game in the seventh. With one out, Connor Bright reached on a single off the glove of Lankford at first base. The Gamecocks go two runners in scoring position when Kyle Martin deposited a single between three players in shallow centerfield for a single and Bratsen's throw to try to retire the hesitating lead-off runner sailed high of second base.
English was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Zach Brashear come in from the bullpen and induced a grounder to short by Graham Saiko, but it was too slow for the double play and Bright touched home for the go-ahead run.
Jason Freeman (1-1) was saddled with the loss. He allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out one over 0.2 innings.
Adam Westmoreland (2-0) earned the win in relief for South Carolina. He scattered three hits and two hit batsmen while striking out seven over 3.2 innings. Tyler Webb retired six of the seven batters he faced over 2.0 scoreless innings, including four strikeouts, two earn his ninth save of the season.
Lankford led all batters with three hits, going 3-for-4. Blake Allemand went 2-for-4.
Dantzler went 2-for-3 with one double and two RBI to lead the Gamecocks.
The Aggies and Gamecocks return to Carolina Stadium for game two of the series on Friday at 6 pm Central.
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