A no-hit bid by Texas A&M starter Chris Weber had all the makings of a Rob Childress special, but it ended minus the victory.
Weber took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Georgia before giving up a one-out single to nine-hole hitter Randon Jernigan on Wednesday to open the double-elimination portion of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Weber handed the ball to reliever Joseph Menefee, who got the Aggies to the brink of extra innings before Bulldog shortstop Cam Shepherd hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-0 victory.
“I didn’t even feel it,” Shepherd said on the SEC Network.
Menefee, who recorded two outs in A&M’s 8-7, 10-inning victory over Florida on Tuesday, hung a breaking pitch high in the strike zone, and Shepherd pulled it over the left-field wall with a runner on first base. Left fielder Cam Blake missed catching it by inches as he jumped into the fence attempting to send the game to the 10th inning.
“I saw him jump, and my heart just dropped,” Shepherd told the SEC Network. “I couldn’t tell. I thought there was a shot [he caught it].”
Weber kept the Bulldog bats at bay in his second SEC start. His 7 1/3-inning stint is the longest no-hit outing by a single pitcher in SEC tournament history.
“I knew it, but it wasn’t my focus,” Weber said when asked if he knew he had a no-hitter going. “My focus was to make sure that zeroes kept showing up on the board each inning. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed when they got a hit, but I know we’ve got [Menefee] behind me, so I’m not worried about anyone scoring, and I know he’s going to help us get a chance to win.”
A&M head coach Childress took the ball from Weber after the hit in favor of Menefee. The freshman reliever induced a ground ball out and struck out Riley King to close the eighth.
Weber (4-1) allowed one hit with two walks and four strikeouts over a career-high 106 pitches.
Childress says quality baseball lies in pitching and defense, and he got both of those things Wednesday.
“[But] I certainly like to be on the winning end of that 1-0, 2-0 game,” Childress said.
Menefee (3-2) took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits with two strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings.
Bulldog reliever Zac Kristofak (5-0) earned the win after throwing two no-hit innings with one strikeout.
After a leadoff double by Aggie shortstop Braden Shewmake and a second-inning single by Will Frizzell, A&M didn’t manage another hit.
Two walks and a hit batter set a bases-loaded, one-out table for the Aggies in the sixth, but Bulldog reliever Justin Glover induced Zach DeLoach to hit into a groundball double play.
“Certainly the sixth inning was huge, especially the way Chris was pitching,” Childress said. “For us to break that game open ... it probably was the difference in the game.”
A&M (37-20-1) ended the day 1 for 10 with runners on base and 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, stranding six on the base paths.
The morning routine continues Thursday for sixth-seeded A&M as it will face seventh-seeded Ole Miss (34-25) at 9:30 a.m. The Rebels are the only team to sweep the Aggies this season, taking all three late-April contests in Oxford, Mississippi.
Aggie ace John Doxakis (7-3, 2.01 ERA) will start. He allowing three runs (one earned) on five hits over seven innings in a no-decision against Ole Miss on April 25. A&M lost the game 5-4 in 11 innings.
NOTES — Georgia pitchers threw their first two-hit shutout since March 30 last season when they shut out A&M 3-0. ... A&M fell to 12-8 all time in the SEC tournament and 9-4 overall against Georgia.