MORGANTOWN — Texas A&M came into this weekend’s NCAA baseball tournament Morgantown Regional on a bit of a skid at the plate, and that continued Friday in the Aggies’ opening-round loss to Duke.
On Saturday, the A&M bats finally broke out in a big way as the No. 2 regional seed Aggies beat No. 4 seed Fordham 11-2 at Monongalia County Ballpark to knock the Rams out of the tournament and extend their own season for at least one more game.
Texas A&M now advances to a Sunday elimination game, where it will play the loser of Saturday’s late West Virginia-Duke game.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Sometimes when you lose the first game of a regional there is a disappointed feeling and I could sense that a little bit this morning at breakfast. I’m really proud of the way our guys responded after losing a tough game to Duke [Friday] by coming out and grabbing the momentum right away from an offensive standpoint.”
After plating four runs in the ninth inning Friday during the loss to the Blue Devils, the Aggies wasted little time Saturday putting a crooked numbed on the scoreboard.
Second baseman Bryce Blaum smacked a one-out home run in the top of the first to open the scoring, but the damage against Fordham starting pitcher Anthony DiMiglio was far from finished.
Right fielder Logan Foster singled to bring in catcher Mikey Hoehner before Aggie first baseman Hunter Coleman hit a three-run homer to left to make put Texas A&M 5-0 before Fordham had a chance to bat.
“[Scoring early was important] when you consider what we did the last two games of the SEC tournament and [Friday] with runners at second and third in the first inning and not to cash in,” Childress said. “It was like, ‘Here we go again.’ Maybe the ninth inning [Friday] we grabbed some momentum and taking something away from Duke in that game made us feel a little better about ourselves offensively. When you lose that first game in the regional, there is a sense that this could be over real quick. One bad day you can recover from. Two bad days and your season is over. For us to start fast allowed us to breathe and play a little bit looser, and certainly [starting pitcher] Asa [Lacy] didn’t allow them back in the game.”
DiMiglio settled down for a few innings, retiring eight consecutive batters starting in the second inning. That streak ended with a walk to Hunter Coleman in the fourth, then a two-run home run by third baseman Ty Coleman made it 7-0.
The Aggies tacked on another run in the sixth when center fielder Zach DeLoach singled to drive in Hunter Coleman. Then in the seventh it was Hunter Coleman again, this time with a two-run home run to left.
Lacy cruised against the Rams, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven with one walk issued in seven innings.
A&M was at it again in the eighth when shortstop Braden Shewmake singled and later scored on a ground ball by left fielder Cam Blake. Fordham did battle some in the bottom of the ninth, scoring a run, but there was no coming back from the hole the Rams were in.
“We faced these guys early [in the season] and their pitching is very good,” Fordham coach Kevin Leighton said. “Spotting them a five-run lead is a big hill to climb for us. They’re a very good team. [They’re] well-coached, and they have some talented guys on their roster. Lacy was very impressive.”
The Aggies’ Sunday game is scheduled for noon against either the Mountaineers or the Blue Devils. The winner of Saturday’s late game advances to play the winner of Sunday’s early game at 6 p.m. Sunday.