COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M Aggies, with the help of two eighth-inning long balls, extended their perfect season with a 4-3 victory over the Dartmouth Big Green Friday night on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
The Aggies trailed the Big Green 3-0 going into the bottom of the eighth, the largest margin they've faced all season. But, with the help of a couple two-run blasts by Hunter Melton and Logan Taylor, the streaking Aggies took the lead and eventually the victory from Dartmouth.
The win gave Texas A&M the 12th 10-0 start in the 113-season history of the program.
AJ Minter came into the game with a 2-0 record and a spotless 0.00 ERA. He was impressive again tonight as he worked a career-high 6.0 innings only allowing one earned run and striking out seven. The errors behind him cost Minter as Dartmouth was able to plate two unearned runs and Minter registered his first no-decision on the season.
Dartmouth (0-1) started the scoring in the top of the first. Matt Parisi led the game off with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. With two outs clean-up hitter Nick Lombardi squeaked a double down the left field line to plate Parisi, giving Dartmouth an early 1-0 lead.
Things looked promising for the Aggies in the top of the second They were able to load the bases via three walks but were unable put runs on the scoreboard as JB Moss popped up to end the inning.
The team from New Hampshire extended their lead with a two-out rally in the third inning. The Big Green had a runner on first and two outs when the inning was extended due to an error by third baseman Ronnie Gideon. A single by Kyle Holbrook plated the lead runner Nick Ruppert, but a throwing error by Nick Banks allowed the bases to clear. Lombardi's run extended the lead to 3-0 giving the Maroon and White their biggest deficit of the young season. Minter was able to stop the bleeding by striking out Michael Ketchmark to end the inning.
Dartmouth would make things interesting for the Aggies in the fourth as they advanced Matt MacDowell to third with a sacrifice bunt. Bo Patterson, with two outs, would pop one up into left field. Taylor came up empty on a sliding grab and seeing the ball on the ground MacDowell took off for the plate. Taylor was able to quickly react and connected with catcher Michael Barash to nab MacDowell at the plate. Minter would fan Parisi to quash the Big Green threat.
Duncan Robinson, the starter for Dartmouth, worked an impressive 6.0 scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits to an Aggie team that came in hitting .351. Robinson also fanned four batters and left the game with Big Green leading 3-0. He would ultimately get a no-decision due to the late inning lead change.
In the eighth inning, Nick Banks extended his hitting streak to nine games as he worked a one-out single. Melton, who had replaced Gideon earlier in the game, came to the plate and brought the Olsen Field crowd to their feet with a towering shot that hit high off the scoreboard in left. The bomb was Melton's first since the 2013 campaign and brought the Aggies to within striking distance, trailing 3-2. Blake Allemand stepped to the plate next and was able to find his on base via the rare catcher's interference. He would continue to be a nuisance to Dartmouth as an overthrow on a pickoff brought him from first to third. However, he wouldn't need extra bases as Taylor would make the Aggies lead a reality with the second two-run homer of the inning. It was his fourth dinger of the season and gave Texas A&M their first lead of the game 4-3.
In the top of the ninth Ty Schlottmann, who was now in line for the win, was brought back in to face the Big Green. But after a leadoff double, Schlottmann was pulled in favor of right-hander Ryan Hendrix. The northpaw fanned the first batter and then forced Dartmouth's hot-hitter MacDowell (2-for-4) to pop up to center. A lineout to first ended the game and completed the Aggie comeback. The save was Hendrix second on the season.
Chris Burkholder (0-1) took care of business in the first few innings of relief but was the loser on the night giving up both home runs in the eighth. Ty Schlottmann (1-0) notched his first victory of the season for the Ags in his seventh appearance. He had now worked 6.0 innings on the season and has yet to allow a run.
The Aggie bullpen was dominant again tonight as they worked 3.0 scoreless innings and kept the Dartmouth lead in check to give the offense the chance to make up the runs. The stint tonight brings the bullpen to 15.1 innings without giving up a run. Also, the runner left stranded in the ninth marks the 12th runner inherited in a row that the pen hasn't allowed to score.
The Aggies were aided again by the long-ball as their two home runs would bring their season total to 15. The A&M hitters have still yet to hit in a ninth inning.
Ryne Birk, who had been previously finding his offense through hits (15 hits and one BB), worked himself a couple of walks to extend his on-base streak to 15 (dating back to the 2014 season). Birk also slapped a single to bring his hitting streak to 8 which added to his career high.
Melton, whose clutch home run brought the Aggies within a run, went 2-for-3 off the bench and improved his batting average to .429 on the season and logged his first two RBI on the season.
The Aggies will face Dartmouth again on Saturday with first pitch set for 2:05 pm on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.