With only three hits and a 9-1 deficit in the seventh, Texas A&M’s season seemed doomed a game short of the Morgantown Regional final.
However, two grand slams, including a walk-off by second baseman Bryce Blaum, extended the Aggies season over West Virginia in an 11-10 NCAA tournament victory Sunday.
The Aggies (39-22-1) play again at 6:30 p.m. against Duke (33-25) in the Morgantown Regional final two days after the Aggies fell to the Blue Devils 8-5 in the opener. Childress said he will start sophomore left-hander Chandler Jozwiak in Sunday's nightcap.
With a 3-2 count, two outs and a three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, Blaum sent a pitch from Mountaineer closer Sam Kessler over the left-field wall, ending West Virginia’s (38-22) season. The game-winning blast was set up by a Logan Foster double and walks by Aaron Walters and Braden Shewmake.
"That’s why we’re still playing because, offensively, we’ve stepped up in a big way," Texas A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress said.
The four-run blast came two innings after Foster belted his own grand slam in the bottom of the seventh. The Aggies also had to wait out a 1-hour and 56-minute weather delay during the bottom of the fourth after falling behind 4-0.
"It was all just about trying to set up an inning," Childress said. "One guy wasn’t going to do that from the word go. Even after we had the rain delay, one guy wasn’t going to hit us back into the game. We had to do it as a collective group and take some free bases and take advantage of some mistakes, if any were going to be given to us."
Aggie closer Kasey Kalich picked up the win in 2 1/3 innings of work.
A&M used starters Christian Roa and Chris Weber in the win over the Mountaineers, though Weber faced just six batters in one inning of work and could be an option out of the bullpen against the Blue Devils.
"Chandler Jozwiak will start for us and we’re going to need a lot out of him, but you may see some of the same guys we used out of the bullpen in this game again," Childress said.