CBB Visit: Kansas at Texas A&M

Caleb Shofner delivered three hits on the day for the Aggies, including the game winner in the bottom of the 9th. (ESPN Photo)
Caleb Shofner delivered three hits on the day for the Aggies, including the game winner in the bottom of the 9th. (ESPN Photo)

The Kansas Jayhawks boarded a plane for College Station, Texas with a perfect 3-0 record, sitting alone at the top of the Big 12 standings. After a 3-0 defeat on Friday and Saturday’s 7-6 loss, the Jayhawks are in danger of making the return trip to Kansas with an even 3-3 record in Big 12 play. Saturday’s game between Kansas and Texas A&M wasn’t short on drama. The Jayhawks jumped out to an early lead, touching Texas A&M starter Alex Wilson for two runs in the first inning behind back-to-back RBI-doubles from Buck Afenir and Tony Thompson.

Kansas starting pitcher T.J. Walz was absolutely dominant the first time through the Aggie lineup. The sophomore right hander struck out six Aggie hitters and allowed no base runners through the first three innings. Kyle Colligan was the first base runner for the Aggies, reaching on a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fourth inning. A one-out single from Caleb Shofner advanced Colligan to third and gave the Aggies runners on the corners. Luke Anders then delivered an RBI-double down the right field line to scratch across the first run of the game for Texas A&M. Kevin Gonzalez then plated both runners with a two-out single to right center field, giving the Aggies a 3-2 lead.

Kansas would knot the game at three in the top of the sixth. After a one-out walk to Jimmy Waters, Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress called senior reliever Kyle Thebeau from the bullpen. Preston Land welcomed Thebeau to the game with a single to right field, giving the Jayhawks runners on first and second. Thebeau then induced a groundball that looked to be a certain double play, but Aggie shortstop Brodie Greene threw wide of first base. The errant throw allowed Waters to come around to score for Kansas.

Texas A&M would answer in the bottom half of the sixth with a run off the bat of Luke Anders. The senior first baseman hit a laser over the right center wall for a solo homerun, giving the Aggies a 4-3 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Nick Anders lead off with a single to right field, and Scott Arthur sacrificed him to second. Anders would advance to third on a Colligan groundout to first base. With two outs and Brooks Raley, Texas A&M’s leading hitter, stepping to the plate, Kansas caoch Ritch Price elected to go with the left-on-left match-up. Raley laced an off-speed pitch from incoming pitcher Travis Blankenship into left center field, scoring Anders from third. Raley would steal second a few pitches later and come around to score on a Shofner RBI-single to left field, pushing the Aggie lead to 6-3.

Kansas wasn’t going down without a fight. After inducing an inning ending double play in the seventh, Texas A&M reliever Shane Minks ran into some trouble in the top of the eighth. Waters lead off the inning for the Jayhawks with a double down the right field line, and advanced to third on a Land single to left field. After a strikeout, Casey Lytle delivered an infield RBI-single to cut the Aggie lead to two. A David Narodowski single down the right field line loaded the bases for Kansas and chased Minks from the game. Estevan Uriegas trotted the the mound for the Aggies and promptly walked the next two hitters to tied the game at six. Childress made the call to the bullpen again, this time handing the ball to Aggie closer Nick Fleece. A subsequent strikeout and groundout ended the Jayhawk threat.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the ninth. Kansas elected to bring in closer Paul Smyth to start the inning. After pinch hitter David Alleman grounded out to start the inning, Colligan was hit by a pitch with one out. Raley hit a grounder off the glove of the first baseman and reached on an error by Smyth, who couldn’t handle the throw from the second baseman. When the throw trickled away from the reliever, Colligan advanced to third. Shofner then ended the game with his third hit of the day, this one an RBI-line drive to left field. Shofner lead the Aggies at the plate on the day with his three hits and two RBIs.

Minks picked up the win for the Aggies, working an inning and two thirds of no-hit baseball. Smyth picked up the loss for Kansas, working one third of an inning and allowing one unearned run off one hit. Both starters worked five and a third innings, Walz allowing four earned runs on six hits for Kansas and Wilson allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits for Texas A&M.

The two teams take the field at noon (CT) for the series finale.