COLUMBIA, S.C. — Texas A&M’s Kasey Kalich pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the sixth inning to help the ninth-ranked Aggie baseball team split a Southeastern Conference doubleheader with South Carolina on Saturday at Founders Park.
Kalich struck out junior George Callil on a full-count pitch to end the sixth in the second game, which like the first was seven innings, and A&M junior Bryce Blaum added a two-run home run in the seventh inning for a 6-3 victory, giving the Aggies (29-12-1, 11-6-1) their fourth series victory of the season. South Carolina won the opener 3-2, but the Gamecocks (23-17, 5-13) lost their sixth SEC series.
A&M, which never led in the opener, took the lead in the second game with three runs in the third inning off freshman right-handed starter Cam Tringali (2-1). Freshman Hunter Watson, Blaum and sophomore Zach DeLoach strung together one-out singles to score a run, and junior Braden Shewmake added a two-run double.
“We knew we didn’t play up to our ability in the first game,” Blaum said. “We knew we had to win the series, just coming out in the second [game] was a big deal for us.”
A&M made it 4-1 in the fourth on junior Cam Blake’s first homer of his career.
South Carolina scored a run in the bottom of the third on a double by Callill, plating sophomore Noah Campbell, who had singled.
In the sixth, South Carolina touched up Kalich, who took over for sophomore right-hander Bryce Miller with two outs. Senior Chris Cullen greeted Kalich with a double, scoring senior Jacob Olson, who had walked. Kalich walked freshman Brady Allen, and junior Quinntin Perez singled to load the bases. A&M second baseman Blaum made a nice play on Perez’s single to keep a run from scoring, but Campbell walked to force in a run and make it 4-3.
Kalich, a sophomore right-hander who earned his 10th save, struck out Callil on a slider in the dirt.
“That was a huge pitch by him getting us off the field,” Blaum said.
Blaum and DeLoach, the first two hitters in A&M’s lineup, each had two hits in the game. Freshman left-hander Joseph Menefee (3-0) pitched a hitless inning for the victory. He replaced sophomore right-hander Christian Roa, who allowed three hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 3 2/3 innings.
A&M coach Rob Childress said the bounce-back win was big after losing “such a disappointing first game.”
In the opener, South Carolina managed but two hits, but needed only one to win the game.
Sophomore Luke Berryhill hit a three-run homer in the first inning off A&M sophomore left-hander Asa Lacy, who hit the first two batters he faced, Campbell and Callil. South Carolina leads the SEC in homers, but that was its first three-run homer in league play.
South Carolina pitchers TJ Shook and freshman right-hander Brett Kerry made the lead stand up, limiting A&M to four hits. Sophomore right-hander Shook (3-1) allowed three hits and two runs in four innings, striking out three and walking two. Kerry allowed only one hit in three innings, picking up his fifth save. He struck out four with no walks.
A&M scored its runs in the second. Junior Logan Foster hit a leadoff homer. Watson added an RBI single, plating DeLoach, who had singled.
Lacy bounced back from the first inning by allowing only one hit in the next five innings. He struck out six and walked five.
NOTES — A&M is in second place in the SEC West behind Arkansas (30-10, 12-6).