STARKVILLE, Mississippi -- In front of a crowd of 15,078 at Dudy Noble Field, the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies pounded out 17 hits in a 10-6 win against the No. 8 Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.
The crowd was the second-largest ever to see a game at an on-campus venue. The win clinched the series for the Aggies and put Texas A&M atop the SEC Western Division standings with a 9-5 mark in league play.
Boomer White, Hunter Melton and Joel Davis each logged three hits. White went 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI. Melton batted 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Davis batted 3-for-5 with one run, one double, one triple and two RBI.
Jace Vines (6-0) earned the win, yielding three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four in 5.0 innings. Mark Ecker was super in relief, working 4.0 hitless innings. He retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced with one walk and four strikeouts to earn his second save of the season.
Mississippi State (24-11-1, 8-6 SEC) broke the scoring seal in the first inning. With two outs, Nathaniel Lowe gapped a single to left-center and Reid Humphreys followed by launching a 2-1 offering over the left-center fence for a two-run home run.
Texas A&M (28-7) wrangled the lead from the Bulldogs in the top of the third. With one out, Nick Banks poked a single to centerfield and White followed with a slow roller down the third base line that the pitcher was unable to field for a single. The Aggies put on a successful double steal and the catcher's throw to second sailed into centerfield allowed Banks to score, trimming the lead to 2-1.
Melton singled through the left side of the infield to put runners on the corners and Ryne Birk tied the game with a sacrifice fly to rightfield. Michael Barash kept the inning alive with a single to leftfield and Davis gave A&M its first lead of the game when he roped a triple over the head of the centerfielder to plate two runs. Nick Choruby legged out a single on a ball hit to the first baseman to knock in Davis and stake the Aggies to a 5-2 lead.
The Aggies tacked on two runs in the fourth. With Kale Breaux working in relief for Mississippi State, J.B. Moss threaded a leadoff single through the left side of the infield and Banks drew a five-pitch walk. White hit a single to left-center to knock in Moss. Daniel Brown spelled Breaux on the mound and was greeted by an RBI single by Melton to inflate the A&M cushion to 7-2.
Mississippi State trimmed a run off the margin in the home half of the fourth. Gavin Collins was hit by a pitch and Cody Brown reached on a bunt single. Ryan Gridley pushed both runners into scoring position with a groundout to second and John Holland plated Collins with another grounder to second, closing the gap to 7-3.
Things got precarious for the Aggies in the sixth. With Turner Larkins working in relief, Collins poked a single to centerfield and Cody Brown drew a five-pitch walk. Andrew Vinson spelled Larkins on the mound and issued a walk to Ryan Gridley to load the bases. Holland singled in one run with a single and Jake Mangum plated two with a single up the middle, clipping the A&M lead to 7-6. Ecker came in and fanned Elih Marrero, got Lowe to fly out to left and caught Humphreys looking at strike three to get out of the inning.
For the second straight game, the Aggies got a late rally to blow the game open. This time they put up three runs in the eighth. With two outs, Banks slapped a single up the middle and White was issued a base on balls. Zac Houston took the hill for the Bulldogs and gave up an RBI infield single to Melton. Birk followed with a single to centerfield to plate White and Melton came around to score on an error to balloon the A&M lead to 10-6.
Ecker closed out the game by retiring nine of 10 Bulldogs in the last three innings.
The Aggies scored 10 or more runs for the fifth consecutive game and it also marked the fifth straight contest the A&M offense has produced at least one inning with four or more runs.
Texas A&M goes for the sweep Sunday with a 1:30 pm contest at Dudy Noble Field.
Head coach Rob Childress
On the win...
"I'm proud of our guys. They showed a lot of resiliency today, staying in the fight. We had all of the momentum, but then (Dan) Brown comes in for them and retires 11 of 12 and they grab all of the momentum. In the sixth inning they get a two-strike single and two walks and score three runs. But Mark Ecker came in and did the same thing for us. Shut down their offense and grabbed the momentum back."
On the offense scoring at least 10 runs in each of the last five games...
"I couldn't be more pleased with how things are going offensively. Coach Bolt, Coach Seely and Coach Carlson do a great job of preparing them each and every day. The guys come and punch the clock, getting good at bats one-through-nine."
Junior pitcher Mark Ecker
On his outing...
"My changeup is finally working. I kept using that, pounding the strike zone. When I came in coach told me to just focus on getting one out at a time and everything will work out. After I got out of the sixth inning, it all fell it to place."
Junior outfielder Joel Davis
On his day at the plate...
"The guys ahead of me deserve all of the credit today. They wore the pitcher down and he left some mistakes for me. I was able to capitalize on them. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do it without them."
On the series win...
"Getting the series win in an environment like this is huge. To do that here with 15,000 in the stands cheering against us is a big momentum builder."