Aggies finish strong to split weekend series

The first seven innings was a good old-fashioned pitchers dual at Olsen Field, but with one swing of the bat, Dane Carter changed that. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp recaps the weekend and visits with head coach Rob Childress, and players after the game.

COLLEGE STATION — Pitchers from both Northern Colorado and Texas A&M engaged in an old-fashioned pitchers dual for the first seven and a half innings on Sunday. The teams had combined for nine hits during that span and the Aggies led 3-2.

But A&M third baseman Dane Carter put an end to that with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that gave the Aggies a 5-2 win in front of 3,461 fans on a picturesque afternoon at Olsen Field.

Carter finished the day 1-for-3 and tied a career high with three RBI and a run scored.

But the story of the day for the Aggies was on the mound, which is just the way head coach Rob Childress likes it.

Aggie right hander Scott Migl got things started by throwing five innings of shutout baseball before getting into trouble in the sixth inning. He loaded the bases with nobody out, hitting two of the first three batters he faced. But he stood tall, getting out of the jam with only one run scored against him.

Migl returned to the mound in the seventh, but was forced out of the game after an RBI double to left center by Sean Zyer.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Cravey came in with a runner on second and just one out but performed like a seasoned veteran, striking out the first batter he faced with three pitches and forcing a ground ball back to the pitcher to end the inning. Thanks to an RBI by Darby Brown in the bottom of the seventh, Cravey earned his first career win.

Travis Starling came in for his third appearance of the weekend, and he was just as effective as he had been in his first two outings, forcing a fly ball to center field and striking out the final two batters that he faced to end the game.

Starling allowed zero hits, zero runs and struck out five batters in 2.1 innings of work this weekend, and earned his first save of the year on Sunday.

The Aggie bullpen as a unit was the highlight of the weekend for the Aggies, who didn't plan on splitting a series with Northern Colorado out of the gate.

Starling, Cravey, Shane Minks, Hank Robertson and Brooks Raley did not give up a single run in four games, and allowed a total of three hits in 10 innings of work, striking out 15 and walking just three hitters.

Clayton Ehlert was the only Aggie reliever to allow runs in 12 combined innings of work, giving up two in his appearance on Saturday, which earned him the loss.

The A&M bullpen has an ERA of 1.46 and Northern Colorado hit just .125 against the six relievers who made appearances this weekend.

The Aggies didn't fare as well at the plate in the season opening series and senior All-American Blake Stouffer may have had the roughest go of it, failing to record a single hit, going 0-for-12 at the plate. He hit the ball well all weekend, but couldn't seem to hit it anywhere except right into the gloves of Northern Colorado.

Brian Ruggiano and Dane Carter were the two brightest spots at the plate this weekend for A&M, but freshman Brooks Raley—whom Childress has praised since fall practice—hit .333 for the weekend as well with an RBI.

Ruggiano led the team with seven hits on the weekend in 13 at bats (.538) and Carter added another five hits in 13 at bats of his own (.385). Carter and Ruggiano each had one home run for the Aggies as well—the only two long balls of the weekend for A&M.

Shortstop Jose Duran started the weekend off with a bang, going 3-for-4 at the plate, with two RBI, two stolen bases and two runs scored, but was 0-for-7 in Saturday's double header and finished the weekend with four hits in 14 at bats (.286).

The Aggies will hope to regain some confidence at the plate with two games against McNeese State scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Shane Minks (0.00 ERA, .143 vs. avg) will get the start on Tuesday night and Carson Middleton will make his first appearance of the year on Wednesday.

Visit THE TAILGATE for more analysis and comments from opening weekend of Aggie baseball.




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