Junior Joe Patterson hit a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning to lift No. 18 Texas A&M to a 6-4, come-from-behind win over Wright State to remain alive in NCAA Regional action Saturday afternoon before 2,201 fans at Lupton Stadium.
Patterson stepped to the plate with pinch runner Nick Anders at first base and one out. He squared up on the first pitch of the at-bat from Raider closer Michael Schum and drove it high over the fence in dead center field to put the Aggies on top for the first time on the day.
Senior Kyle Thebeau then capped off the longest relief outing of his career by striking out the side around a pair of hits to not only end A&M's longest NCAA game in 20 years, but put the Aggies (37-23) into a 2 p.m. game on Sunday afternoon against either TCU or Oregon State. WSU concluded its season at 33-30.
Patterson's dinger was his second clutch hit in as many at-bats. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth, and down to their final two outs of the season and their careers, seniors Luke Anders and Kyle Colligan delivered back-to-back base hits to put the tying run in scoring position. Patterson then stepped to the plate and, after swinging and missing at Schum's first offering, laced a ground ball just to the right of the bag at second and just over the glove of a diving Aaron Fields to score pinch-runner Scott Arthur and tie the game at four.
The game remained deadlocked into the 11th where, with one out, Brett Parsons drove a 3-1 pitch back through the box. One out later, Patterson stepped to the plate and delivered the eventual game-winner.
Thebeau (3-1) was brilliant in relief of Aggie starter Ross Hales, shutting out the Raiders over the final 6.2 innings of the game. He gave up five hits, two coming in the 11th, and did not walk a batter while punching out eight. The senior's performance was critical, as A&M erased a two-run deficit with single runs in the fifth and ninth to force extras.
The Raiders took an early lead with four first-inning hits, two of the infield variety, off Hales. Jeff Mercer drove home R.J. Gundolff with the game's first tally on a one-out RBI single to right field. After moving to second on an infield single, Mercer scored on a base hit to right by Quentin Cate to put Wright State up 2-0.
The Aggies tied the game with two runs in the third off Wright State's Alex Kaminsky. With one out, Brooks Raley beat out a ground ball to short, and moved to second on a single by Luke Anders that was lost in the sun and dropped in front of Ryan Ashe in center. After an out, a hit batter loaded the bases for Kevin Gonzalez. The A&M catcher hit a hard grounder to the left of Fields at second, but the ball scooted under his glove and into right field. The error brought home Raley and Anders to even the score at two.
Gundolff led off the third with a single on the right side of the infield, and moved to second when the throw to try to get him at first by Brodie Greene sailed wide of Hales, who came over to cover the bag. He would score two outs later on a single by Mercer, putting Wright State back on top at 3-2.
WSU manufactured a run in the fourth to regain a two-run lead on a lead infield single, sacrifice bunt and two-out, two-strike RBI single by Ogrinc.
Thebeau would enter in the fifth with two on and one out, and gave up a lead single to load the bases. He coaxed the next batter into an inning-ending double play and then would sit down 15 of the next 18 batters to carry the game into the 11th.
Caleb Shofner began the comeback by launching his second home run in as many days in the sixth, touching Kaminsky for a solo shot to center to pull the Aggies back within one at 4-3.
A&M would threaten in the seventh but would not be able to push across the tying run, setting the stage for the late-inning heroics.
Patterson finished the afternoon 2-for-4 with the three RBIs, while Luke Anders had a team-high three hits. Raley, Colligan and Shofner each had a pair of hits as well, with the Aggies totaling 13 in the game.
Gundolff, McGrew and Cate had three hits each for Wright State.
Hales gave up 10 hits and four runs (three earned) over 4.1 innings. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.
Schum (5-7) suffered the loss, giving up six hits and three runs over 4.1 innings. He fanned two and did not walk a batter. Kaminsky threw a strong 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits, three runs (one earned) and a walk while punching out three.
Texas A&M now awaits the result of Saturday night's TCU/Oregon State game, and the Aggies will face the loser of that contest on Sunday at 2 p.m. Junior Clayton Ehlert (5-1, 5.96 ERA) will get the nod on the mound.
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