COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Freshman outfielder Krey Bratsen notched a career-high four hits Saturday afternoon at Olsen Field as the No. 6 Texas A&M baseball team won its fifth straight contest and saw its bats come alive in an 11-1 victory over Kansas.
The Aggies, who secured their second consecutive Big 12 series win to open conference play, improved to 18-5 overall with a 4-1 league mark while Kansas fell to 10-12 and 2-3 in conference games.
Sophomore starter Michael Wacha (4-1) was again impressive for the Aggies on the mound as he tossed his second career and second consecutive complete game victory. The right-hander scattered seven hits and notched nine strikeouts while the lone run against his ledger was an unearned tally.
After Wacha hung zeros on the scoreboard during the Jayhawks’ first two turns at bat, the Aggie offense went to work in the home half of the second.
Senior shortstop Kenny Jackson notched a two-out single to give A&M a base runner and brought Adam Smith to the plate. The junior third baseman from Spring, Texas, connected on a pitch from KU starter Tanner Poppe (1-3) and drove the offering beyond the wall in left for a two-run homer.
The long ball was the first of the season for Smith and the 20th of his Aggie career and gave Texas A&M the game’s initial lead at 2-0.
During the bottom of the third, junior first baseman Jacob House collected his first of three RBI on the day with a run-scoring single through the right side. The solid run-producing afternoon gave the Mansfield, Texas, native eight RBI in his last four games and raised his team-leading total to 20.
Senior catcher Kevin Gonzalez also plated a run in the frame when he executed the safety squeeze to bring home junior designated hitter Matt Juengel, pushing the A&M lead to 4-0.
The Jayhawks made their lone impression on the scoreboard in the visitor’s side of the fourth to cut the advantage down to 4-1. KU left fielder Jimmy Waters singled to lead off the frame and scored later in the inning as he stole third and a throw by Gonzalez skipped into left field.
Wacha ensured the run stayed unearned as he fanned KU catcher Alex DeLeon to end the inning. Texas A&M pitching has not yielded an earned run during the last 19.2 innings, lowering the team ERA to 1.63 this spring.
During the bottom of the fifth, the Aggies tacked two more runs onto the lead with a RBI ground out by House and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gonzalez.
The lead swelled to 7-1 in the seventh as House again plated an A&M run, this time with a run-scoring fielder’s choice.
Texas A&M piled on four more insurance runs in the eighth as Bratsen drove in two with a double and then scored in proceeding at bat on a RBI triple by Tyler Naquin. The three-bagger was the team-leading fifth for Naquin, ranking him among the national leaders.
Naquin himself came home to score in the next at bat on a KU wild pitch as he finished up his 3-for-4 afternoon at the plate with his third run of the contest.
The Aggies are back in action Sunday with a 12:05 p.m. contest against Kansas at Olsen Field. Texas A&M will send reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Week Ross Stripling (4-1, 0.96) to the hill to face off against the Jayhawks’ freshman right-hander Alex Cox (0-1, 4.15). Texas A&M will be gunning for its first sweep of a Big 12 opponent at Olsen Field since the Aggies took all three games of a series against Nebraska on April 17-19, 2009.