GREENSBORO - The plan was for Brent Moore to pitch five innings on Sunday. Things were going well for the senior left-hander going into the fifth, but that's when the plan ran into some complications. Buffalo scored four runs in the fifth, chased Moore from the game after 4.2 innings and prevented A&T from sweeping the series with a 10-6 win Sunday afternoon at a frigid War Memorial Stadium.
"He just ran out of bullets," said A&T head coach Joel Sanchez. "He got his pitch count up, he ran into too many deep counts and walks, which is not his normal thing."
Moore uncharacteristically lost his control. In his previous two seasons, Moore has walked just 41 batters over 144.1 innings. On Sunday he struck out eight, but also walked five and hit a batter. His pitch count caught up with him with two outs in the fifth.
Tyler Mautner, who went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, doubled to left center. After Ryan Tulloch was hit by pitch, both runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. River McWilliams took advantage with a two-run RBI double that gave the Bulls a 4-3 lead. Sanchez then turned to his bullpen as right-hander Kirby Whicker entered the game.
"We were trying to get him there," said Sanchez about Moore who was one out away from reaching the coaching staff's goal. "He just ran out of pitches, so we wanted to give those young guys a chance to get their feet wet, and see what they had to show. We tried to keep them at bay, but it was tough."
Whicker, a freshman right-hander out of Walkerton, N.C., walked the first two batters he faced and hit the third with a pitch to force in a run. The Aggies then turned to freshman right-hander Joshua Thompson. He walked Jon Mestas to force in another run to give the Bulls a 6-3 lead. Sophomore right-hander Shane Carter did end the inning as he struck out Thomas Richards, the same man who started the inning.
The Aggies (2-1) constantly battled back. But every time they scored a run, the Bulls (1-2) would answer with a run or two. The Aggies scored a run in the sixth on a Stefan Jordan RBI double down the left field line, but the Bulls came back in the home seventh with two more runs thanks to an RBI double by Jason Kanzler and an RBI sacrifice fly by Mestas to give the Bulls an 8-4 lead. The Aggies scored in their half of the seventh, but the Bulls scored in the eighth and the ninth to take a 10-5 lead going into the home ninth.
Aggies pinch-hitter Reggie Washington led off the inning with a walk, followed by Jevoanny Tolentino's infield single to put runners on first and second. After a Luke Tendler strikeout, Kelvin Freeman hit a bloop single into right to load the bases. Cameron Jergens scored Washington on a sac fly to move the Aggies to within four. But the excitement would end there. McWilliams picked up the save by striking out Mark Nales to end the game.
Bulls starter Mike Burke (1-0) picked up the win, while Moore (0-1) took the loss. Freeman went 3-for-5 with three RBI, while Tolentino had a 2-for-4 day with two runs scored. Despite the loss, the Aggies did take two out of three from the Bulls.
"I'm very pleased because we wanted to come in here and win this first series," said Sanchez. "I was a little disappointed because I thought we missed out on an opportunity to sweep today. We didn't have the energy we needed. I know it was cold out here, but it was cold for both teams. But all in all, it was a good start for us."
A&T is in the midst of playing nine straight games at War Memorial Stadium to open the season. Game No. 4 will take place Tuesday afternoon at 3 versus Elon.