Texas A&M delivered another strong pitching performance Saturday to beat Arkansas and advance to the championship game of the SEC Baseball Tournament.
The Aggies eliminated the Razorbacks with a 5-4 victory in Hoover, Ala. Texas A&M (36-24) will play for the tournament championship Sunday against the winner of a semifinal game between Florida and Vanderbilt.
Arkansas (41-16) finished the SEC Tournament with a 2-1 record. The Razorbacks did not lose during double-elimination play earlier in the week, but the tournament format changes to single elimination for the semifinal and championship rounds.
Texas A&M is 4-1 at the tournament. The Aggies’ lone loss was 6-5 in 11 innings to Arkansas on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks lost to Texas A&M for the first time in five meetings this season.
Texas A&M left-handers Matt Dillard, Shane Sdao, Brandyn Garcia and Troy Wansing combined to scatter 10 hits and strike out 14.
Wansing, who threw eight scoreless innings Tuesday against Tennessee, pitched the Aggies out of a jam in the ninth inning when the Razorbacks scored three runs and put the tying run at second base with one out. Wansing struck out Jace Bohrofen and Jared Wegner in back-to-back at-bats to strand two runners.
Caleb Cali singled and Peyton Holt was hit by a pitch to start the inning against Garcia. Both scored on John Bolton’s double down the right-field line.
Wansing allowed a 3-2 single to Josenberger after coming in from the bullpen, and Bolton scored as Kendall Diggs reached safely on a fielding error by first baseman Jack Moss. Bohrofen and Wegner both went down swinging.
The Aggies entered the SEC Tournament with a 7.37 ERA in SEC play, but have shut down or limited lineups from four of the league’s top seven seeds — Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and LSU — during their long stay in Hoover. Texas A&M has two shutouts and a 2.74 ERA at the tournament.
Trevor Werner’s two-out double against Arkansas right-hander Brady Tygart in the third inning gave Texas A&M the lead for good. The Aggies scored three runs that were charged to right-handed reliever Will McEntire in the sixth inning. Two runs scored after McEntire exited the game with two outs.
Hunter Haas and Moss drew bases-loaded walks against relievers Gage Wood and Parker Coil to put Texas A&M ahead 4-0.
Arkansas had scoring chances against Sdao in the sixth and seventh innings, but only managed one run. The Razorbacks stranded the bases loaded when Josenberger fouled out and Diggs struck out in the sixth.
Ben McLaughlin’s pinch-hit RBI single scored Cali after a lead-off double in the seventh. Diggs grounded out to strand two.
Arkansas went 5 for 21 with runners on base and 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position. The Razorbacks left nine on base.
Jace LaViolette’s two-out RBI single to right field against Austin Ledbetter in the eighth inning scored Moss to put the Aggies ahead 5-1. It turned out to be an important run.
On a pitch count, Tygart allowed 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 3 in 3 1/3 innings. Tygart also hit a batter. He threw 32 of 64 pitches for strikes.
Dillard threw four scoreless innings in his second start. He faced two above the minimum and struck out six.
Arkansas will play next in an NCAA regional game. The Razorbacks, who are expected to earn a top-eight national seed that will assure home-field advantage, will learn their regional field Monday.