HOUSTON, Texas - The Texas A&M Aggies caged the Cougars in Monday's Division I Baseball Championship regional title game at Schroeder Park, besting Houston, 4-3. The victory gave Texas A&M its third consecutive regional title and the ninth in program history.
Texas A&M (39-21) will face the Davidson Wildcats in a Super Regional best-of-three series next weekend. Dates, times and site of the Super Regionals have yet to be determined.
Stephen Kolek (4-4) keyed the win with the best performance of his career. He allowed just two runs, one earned, on five hits and one walk while striking out nine in 8.1 innings. He pitched shutout ball over his first eight innings.
The Aggies used three singles to pounce on the Cougars with two runs in the top of the first inning. Nick Choruby started the game by bouncing a ball up the middle off the glove of a diving second baseman. Cole Bedford followed by threading a single through the left side of the infield. After Braden Shewmake lined out to leftfield, Hunter Coleman's high chopper back to the mound pushed both runners into scoring position. Blake Kopetsky slapped a two-run single up the middle, staking the Aggies to a 2-0 lead.
Texas A&M manufactured a run in the top of the seventh. With one out, George Janca punched a single up the middle and, with two outs, Choruby gapped a triple to right-center to inflate the Aggie cushion to 3-0.
Baine Schoenvogel tacked on what would become a fortuitous insurance run in the top of the ninth. He fell behind the count 1-2 before blasting a ball over the leftfield fence for his second pinch-hit home run of the season, ballooning the Texas A&M lead to 4-0.
It looked like the Aggies were going to breeze through the top of the ninth when Kolek got the first batter he faced to fly out on the first pitch. But Corey Julks launched the very next pitch over the leftfield fence to cut the A&M advantage to 4-1.
Houston (42-22) continued the rally with an infield single by Grayson Padgett, driving Kolek from the contest. Reliever Kaylor Chafin entered the game and plunked the first batter he faced to put two runners on. Chafin regrouped to get Lael Lockhart to ground to third base, but Janca dropped the ball running to third, loading the bases with one out.
Cooper Coldiron plated a run with a single to leftfield and Nick Slaughter drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to trim the lead to 4-3. Cason Sherrod spelled Chafin on the mound and got Connor Wong to swing and miss on strike three to earn his fourth save of the season.
Choruby, Bedford and Kopetsky led the Aggies at the plate with two hits apiece. Choruby batted 2-for-4 with one triple, one run and one RBI. Bedford batted 2-for-4 and Kopetsky was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Julks was the lone Cougar with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with one home run, one run and one RBI.
In his first career start, Nolan Bond (2-1) was solid for Houston. He yielded three runs on eight hits while striking out four in 6.2 innings.
The victory was the ninth consecutive win for Texas A&M in NCAA Regional play.