COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Robb Paller and Aaron Silbar each went 3-for-6 at the plate, with Paller driving in a trio of runs, but No. 26 Texas A&M rallied from a 7-4 deficit in the eighth inning to steal an 8-7 win in 11 innings Tuesday at Olsen Field and Blue Bell Park.
George Thanopoulos made his first start on the hill for Columbia, going six innings, giving up just six hits, three earned runs and striking out two before leaving the game with a 5-3 lead.
Columbia wasted no time attacking the Aggies, putting up a three spot in the top half of the first inning. It took just two batters for the Lions to plate a run as Jordan Serena led off with a double to right center and Aaron Silbar brought him home with single back up the middle.
Robb Paller made it three straight hits for the Lions, singling through the left side on a 2-2 pitch. Gus Craig provided the sacrifice bunt to move Silbar and Paller up a bag before Nick Maguire walked to load the bases. Catcher Mike Fischer used a strong swing to muscle a 1-1 pitch out to center, plating the two lead runners to give Columbia a 3-0 advantage before A&M was able to get out of the inning.
Logan Taylor cut into the lead in the bottom of the second, recording an RBI double for A&M to make it a 3-1 Columbia lead.
The long ball had eluded the Lions up until the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game when Paller rocketed a 0-1 pitch into the Lions’ bullpen over the right field wall. The homer scored Silbar as well, making it a 5-1 contest.
The Aggies began to chip away at the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a run in each of the next three innings to make it a 5-4 game.
The eighth inning was filled with five runs, two for the Lions and three for the Aggies, tying the game at 7-7. First-year Will Savage earned his third RBI of the year, driving in Fischer who walked to begin the frame. A Serena walk and fielder’s choice on a Serena grounder made it two-on with two-outs for the Lions. Paller came through again, driving in Serena from second with a drive through the left side of the infield, putting Columbia ahead 7-4.
Columbia looked to be in good shape to head to the final inning up three after reliever Thomas Crispi struck out the first two batters, but the Aggies put together a two-out rally that culminated with Mitchell Nau hitting a three-run homer over the left field wall, knotting the score at 7-7.
The bats went quiet for both sides over the next two innings before A&M broke through with the game winning run in the bottom of the 11th. Cole Lankford laced a double to the gap in left field and Blake Allemand scored from first to give the Aggies the win in walk-off fashion.
Columbia is back on the diamond tomorrow, March 19, facing UT-Arlington at Clay Gould Ballpark.