Shaun Cooper drove in the game-winning run.
March 4, 2011
HOUSTON - The Utah baseball team started the 2011 Houston College Classic off with a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Texas A&M, picking up their first win of the season and defeating one of the best college pitchers in the country.
Utah starter Rick Anton, who spent most of the game locked in a pitchers duel with A&M All-American John Stilson, allowed one run on five hits over eight innings to pick up his first win of the season, striking out eight. Tyler Wagner pitched the final two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two.
"We did the little things to win the game," head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "We got the outs when we needed them and got an opportune hit from Shaun Cooper, but it was Rick and Wagner who really pitched outstanding. We also played very good defense.
"Stilson's great, but our guys had a good approach at the plate because we've seen such good pitching over the last two weeks. They had good swings at the plate."
Utah got to Stilson early, giving him his first earned run of the season in the first inning. James Brooks led off the game with a double to center field, moving to third on Michael Beltran's sacrifice bunt on a hit-and-run play. C.J. Cron sent home the first run of the inning with a single to left center for a 1-0 lead.
Utah left a pair of runners on in the third and the fifth and the Aggies had a runner reach third base with one out in the fourth, but Anton got out of the jam with a pop up and a ground out.
The Aggies made a pitching change in the seventh inning, bringing in Nick Fleece to pitch. Green got things started off for Utah in the inning when he reached on an error. He moved over on James Brooks' sacrifice bunt. After Beltran struck out for the second out of the inning, Cron was intentionally walked. Cooper made them pay with his single up the middle to score Green for the game-winning run.
Although Smith led off the top of the seventh with a single for A&M, Anton again got out of the inning with no damage. The Aggies again put a scare into Utah when Kevin Gonzalez doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and pinch runner Scott Arthur advanced to third on a passed ball before Wagner struck out the next two batters and forced a ground out to pick up his first save of the season and clinch the win.
"It really felt good," Anton said after the game. "We played real well. We played really good defense and everyone got key hits when they should."
"It was great to get a win, especially against a team like A&M."
Cron, Cooper and Brooks each had a pair of hits for the Utes.
Texas A&M is ranked as high as No. 9 in the polls.
Utah continues at the Houston College Classic on Saturday against Baylor at noon CT.