Typically Olsen Magic appears in the ninth inning of Texas A&M baseball games.
This season, it’s the fourth inning that has provided an offensive surprise.
A&M’s seven-run fourth inning provided the offensive spark the Aggies needed to put away Gonzaga 14-2 in Game 2 of their nonconference series at Blue Bell Park on Saturday.
The Aggies have outscored opponents 28-1 this season in the fourth inning, their most productive frame by 11 runs.
“I don’t know. I think it’s a little bit the luck of the draw,” Aggie left fielder Jonathan Ducoff said. “Maybe it has to do with coming around for the second time with the order and seeing the pitcher for the second time. This is the first time I’ve actually noticed that, but it does make sense coming through the order for the second time and getting on the guy a little better.”
Holding a 2-1 lead, A&M (14-3) strung together three straight singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Ty Coleman’s base hit drove in the first run of the frame. Two batters later, Ducoff blasted a three-run home run to left-center field for his first homer as an Aggie.
“I was just trying to stick to our team offensive approach and hit the ball hard to the middle,” he said. “I got an elevated fastball and was able to hit it well that time.”
Ducoff, a lymphoma survivor and graduate transfer, came to A&M from Houston Baptist to earn a master’s in accounting. He got the itch to continue his baseball career and joined the team as a walk-on. In the prior four seasons split between HBU and Baylor, Ducoff hit .250 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. The Kingwood native picked up one at-bat in the Aggies’ 9-3 win over Abilene Christian on Wednesday, his first action since Feb. 24.
“He’s a true blessing to have in our program,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “He stayed ready even though he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. With the one he got today he certainly made the most of it.”
Bryce Blaum continued the fourth-inning fireworks with an RBI single, driving in center fielder Ty Condel. Blaum led off the game with his third homer of the season that came in the Aggie’s first at-bat of the game. After starting every game this year at second base, Childress used him at designated hitter Saturday to let him recover from some minor bumps and bruises.
“He’s got the ability to start the game off with the bang,” Childress said. “He’s a really good player. He’s a little bit banged up right now. That’s why we DHed him today, and we’ll see how he feels [Sunday].”
Junior shortstop Braden Shewmake closed out the fourth-inning rally with a two-run double to center.
The rest of A&M’s runs came across in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a sacrifice fly by Shewmake and a grand slam from Coleman.
In total, A&M posted 15 hits, marking the fourth consecutive game in which the Aggies have reached the 10-hit plateau. However, they managed only four runs Friday in the 6-4 loss.
“Last night I felt like we were all over the barrel and just couldn’t capitalize with runners in scoring position,” Coleman said. “Capitalizing on those opportunities [Saturday] was really huge for us and the difference between putting up four runs and 14 runs.”
A&M left-handed sophomore Asa Lacy (4-0) allowed one run on three hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
The lone run he allowed came on an RBI single by Bulldog center fielder Guthrie Morrison in the third inning, but Lacy worked his way out of a jam as Gonzaga (5-7) had runners on the corners with one out down 2-1.
“He prepares the right way,” Childress said. “I always used the word ‘determined’ with him, because he is determined. When he is out there on the mound he is going to be his very best, and he may bend but he never breaks. If you had told me he’s going to make it to six [innings] after the [first] three innings, I would’ve said you’re crazy, but his last innings were really good.”
Sophomore Dustin Saenz picked up a three-inning save, allowing one run on four hits and striking out two.
A&M will close its final nonconference series of the season against Gonzaga at noon Sunday. The finale was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but school officials moved up the start time because of rain in the forecast.
With Sunday starter Jonathan Childress out for the season due to an elbow injury, A&M will send sophomore righty Christian Roa (1-1, 4.32 ERA) to the mound. Roa has one start in his career at A&M, a three-run, four-hit no decision in 2 1/3 innings on March 7, 2018, against Northwestern State.