COLLEGE STATION, Texas — For a fourth time in four conference road starts, walks doomed freshman starter Jared Poché.
Poché walked four batters in his first four innings, and he allowed leadoff hits in the first and second — both of which led to runs — in Texas A&M’s 3-2 win over LSU.
The Aggies (29-19, 11-12 Southeastern Conference) evened the series against the Tigers (35-12-1, 13-8-1). Game 3 is at 1 p.m. Sunday and is set for an ESPNU broadcast.
“Poché didn’t have great command, didn’t have great stuff, but he battles,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “He battles hard.”
While Poché got out of a host of jams, the rookie from Lutcher had another tough time with walks away from Alex Box Stadium.
He’s now walked 17 batters in 27.1 innings in road starts and is 0-4 in league games away from home. He settled in Saturday, though. He walked one after the fourth inning and pulled himself out of some messes.
“I was just able to throw a few more strikes. Was able to figure out pitches I was struggling with early,” he said. “My defense helped me out a lot.”
Poché got out of jams and the fifth and seventh. The Aggies had the bases loaded twice in the fifth but didn’t get a run home as Poché and the defense put on a pressure-packed show.
He stranded a runner on third in the seventh.
“Seemingly, every inning there were runners all over the bases,” Mainieri said. “(We) turned double plays and kept getting out of innings.”
The biggest escape came in the fifth.
The Aggies had the bases loaded twice. Christian Ibarra threw home on a bases-loaded grounder for the second out, and Conner Hale scooped up a hopper, flipping to Alex Bregman for the final out of the inning.
“Feel like we had a really good defensive game. Just couldn’t get enough runs,” said Hale, who had two of the Tigers’ five hits in the game.
Ibarra made another sparkling play in the eighth with Kurt McCune on the mound. The Aggies had another rally going before he scooped up Hunter Melton’s grounder, stepped on third base and slung to first for an inning-ending double play.
A sore shoulder will keep freshman reliever Parker Bugg from pitching in Sunday’s rubber match, Mainieri said after Saturday’s loss.
Bugg, a San Diego native and the only signee last year who was drafted, has been a go-to late-inning guy out of the bullpen. He would have likely had a large role in Sunday’s game, as LSU is without a solid No. 3 starter.
Bugg has a 1.53 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched.
He began feeling soreness in his shoulder earlier this week, Mainieri said. He had to stop throwing during warmups before Saturday’s game.
“Started bothering him earlier in the week, but he didn’t tell anybody,” Mainieri said. “We don’t think it’s anything serious.”
Two steps closer
A two-step shift put outfielder Jared Foster in position to make his game-saving catch Friday in the win over Texas A&M.
Volunteer assistant Will Davis motioned for Foster to slide about two steps closer to the left-field foul line before lefty Blake Allemand sent a line drive soaring near the line.
Foster, running toward the left field corner, made the diving grab with the bases loaded — a catch that ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s “SportsCenter” top 10 plays Friday night. The play made sites such as Deadspin, CBS Sports and USA Today.
With a signal from the dugout, Davis moved Foster before the play “based on the fact that it was a lefty hitting,” Davis said.
“I knew the ball would slice away from (Foster),” Davis said.
Freshman left fielder Jake Fraley is 0-for-7 in the two games at Texas A&M. He’s struck out five times. He had three Ks in Friday’s win. ... Conner Hale extended his hitting streak to five games with a double he smoked to the left-center wall in the second inning. ... In the top of the ninth inning, Davis was thrown out while arguing with the third-base umpire, Damien Beal. Beal, a former Southern baseball player, called a third strike on a check swing from Jake Fraley to lead off the frame. Per NCAA rules, Davis will have to miss Sunday’s game.