MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Texas A&M baseball’s season ended with a 4-1 loss to Duke in the Morgantown Regional final Sunday night, but the Aggies went down swinging for the fences.
Two grand slams, including a walk-off by Bryce Blaum, pushed the Aggies (39-23-1) past West Virginia 11-10 in an elimination game early Sunday, setting up the region final matchup with the Blue Devils.
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 season at 38-22. The game-winning blast was set up by a Logan Foster double and walks by Aaron Walters and Braden Shewmake.
“We knew if we were going to keep finding the barrel like we had the whole game that it would eventually fall,” Blaum 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, 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 after the victory. “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 (3-1) picked up the win with 2 1/3 innings of work.
The Aggies leaned on lefty Chandler Jozwiak, A&M’s fourth starter of the weekend, in the regional final after he threw 19 pitches in relief Friday.
The sophomore from Brenham set a new career high in strikeouts with 12, but one mistake in the bottom of the first made the difference.
Duke left fielder Kyle Gallagher drove a 1-0 pitch from Jozwiak (4-5) into the right-field bullpen for an opposite-field, three-run home run.
“Give him two pitches back and we’re still playing,” Childress said of Jozwiak. “[I’m] very proud of him. When we needed him most, he was at his very best.”
Gallagher went 3 for 4 with the home run, two doubles and four RBIs. The performance came two days after a 3 for 5 showing in an 8-5 win against the Aggies in the regional opener.
A&M’s bats remained active after a roller-coaster two weeks, posting nine hits on the night, but the Aggies continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-7 against the Blue Devils.
First baseman Hunter Coleman drove in the Aggies’ lone run on a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Blaum. The junior second baseman went 5 for 9 through both games Sunday, including the grand slam and two doubles.
Duke reliever Jack Carey (4-1) replaced starter Bill Chillari with two outs in the fifth and allowed one hit while pitching through the seventh to pick up the win. Matt Dockman earned the save with two scoreless innings.
The Blue Devils advance to their second consecutive super regional with the win.
“Give Duke a lot of credit,” Childress said. “They played the best out of all four teams here this weekend.”
NOTES — A&M’s All-American shortstop, Shewmake, could have made his final at-bat as an Aggie Sunday. The latest MLB.com mock draft has Shewmake going 29th overall to the Oakland Athletics in the 2019 MLB Draft, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday.