Hours after eliminating Seton Hall, Arizona downed host Texas A&M, 7-4, to force a second and deciding College Station Regional Championship game to played Monday at 6:35 p.m. CDT.
June 5, 2011
Arizona 7, Texas A&M 4 (Box Score) | Tournament Bracket
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Playing in its third straight elimination game - and the second of the day - the Arizona baseball team defeated host Texas A&M, 7-4, on Sunday evening at Olsen Field. The victory forces another championship game between the teams to be played on Monday at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).
Arizona (39-20), which knocked out Seton Hall in a 6-0 decision earlier in the afternoon, broke through with three runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh inning to take a 7-2 lead. The Aggies, the designated visiting team, scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning, which set the game at its 7-4 final.
The Wildcats battled adversity early in the game when starter Tyler Hale was knocked out of the game after taking a line drive off his pitching arm in the third inning. Nick Cunningham took over and was masterful, pitching a career-high 5.1 scoreless innings to earn his first victory of the season.
The Aggies struck first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Tyler Naquin doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Matt Juengel followed with a chopper to third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, whose throw to first was in the dirt, which allowed Juengel to reach and Naquin to score.
Texas A&M (44-19) threatened to add another run with two outs and two on. Kevin Gonzalez hit a sharp liner to center field, where Joey Rickard fielded the ball on a hop and fired a strike to home plate. Catcher Jett Bandy fielded the throw on one bounce and tagged out Juengel to end the inning.
Arizona tied the game in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter Josh Garcia launched the first pitch of the inning deep over the wall in left center for his team-leading eighth home run of the season.
The Aggies rallied in the top of the third. Naquin doubled to center field to open the inning, before Krey Bratsen hit a hard line drive back to mound. The liner hit the throwing arm of Hale and ricocheted into foul territory down the first base line.
After being hit by the liner, Hale attempted a warmup toss, but was unable to continue. Cunningham entered the game with no outs and runners on the corners and quickly induced a double play, which brought in Naquin to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead, but also emptied the bases.
The Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the sixth. Robert Refsnyder doubled to left field to open the inning, which ended the outing for starter Derrick Hadley.
Releiver Kyle Martin entered to face pinch-hitter Bobby Brown, who reached on an infield single that advanced Refsnyder to third base. Jett Bandy followed with a double down the left field line that scored Refsnyder to tie the game 2-2.
With one out and runners on first and second, Mejia chopped a ball past the pitcher, which allowed Brown to score to go-ahead run for the Wildcats. Mejias-Brean followed with a two-out run-scoring single to extend UA's lead to 4-2.
The Aggies put the tying run on base with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Andrew Collazo singled and stole second, before Naquin drew a walk that put runners at the corners. However, Cunningham induced an inning-ending groundout that stranded the runners and preserved a two-run lead.
Arizona quickly answered with another three-run rally. Ortega walked and Frenzel was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, before Refsnyder moved the runners with a bunt. The Aggies intentionally walked Brown to load the bases, to face Bandy, who hit a sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Ortega.
With two runners still on, Bobby Rinard ripped a two-out, two-strike double to left center field. Both runners scored to give the Wildcats a 7-2 lead.
Martin suffered the loss after giving up five earned runs over 1.2 innings pitched. He fell to 2-2 on the season.
In the top of the ninth, Matt Chaffee walked the bases loaded with one out. With Juengel at the plate, Chaffee was called for a balk that forced in a run and moved runners to second and third. Chaffee struck out Juengel for the second out, before another balk brought home a run. The left-handed ended the game with a strikeout of Jacob House.
Offensively, the Wildcats rapped out 11 base hits, reaching double-digits for the third straight game. Ortega reached base in all five plate appearances, including three hits and two walks. Bandy and Rinard each had two RBI apiece.
Arizona now one win away from advancing to the Super Regional round. The school's last regional championship came at the 2008 Ann Arbor Regional, before it advanced to the Coral Gables Super Regional.