Claunch sends Texas A&M past Louisville 5-4 in series opener

Texas A&M's Troy Claunch, center, is swarmed by teammates after driving in the winning run with a single against Louisville during an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament game early Saturday, June 11, 2022, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft) (Sam Craft, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Catcher Troy Claunch singled with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and No. 5 overall seed Texas A&M stranded 17 runners on base before posting a 5-4 victory over No. 12 seed Louisville in the first round of the College Station Super Regional on Friday night.

Texas A&M (41-18) and Louisville (42-20-1) will play again Saturday. A win by the Aggies would send them to the College World Series for a seventh time. A win by the Cardinals, aiming for their sixth CWS appearance, would force a winner-take-all game on Sunday.

Claunch gave Texas A&M a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs.

The Cardinals got a two-run single from Logan Beard and a sacrifice fly from Ben Bianco in the top of the second to grab a 3-1 lead.

Brett Minnich doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Jordan Thompson in the third to pull the Aggies within a run.

Ben Metzinger doubled in a run in the fifth to put the Cardinals up 4-2, but Thompson tied the game with a home run in the seventh — after Claunch led off with a single.

Claunch's game-winning hit came after Louisville reliever Michael Prosecky loaded the bases on a single, walk and a hit batter. Prosecky (2-1) came on in the eighth with one out and one on via a walk and walked two more before striking out Kole Kaler to end the threat.

Jacob Palisch (6-3) pitched two scoreless innings in relief to get the win. The Aggies finished the game with 11 hits, 10 walks and had four batters hit by pitches.

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