The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Chris Swann
Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after the final strikeout after Texas A&M’s win against Texas at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park wasn’t doing Ted Burton any favors in Texas A&M’s NCAA Regional matchup with Texas on Saturday, June 1.

The Aggies’ senior first baseman entered the game’s 11th inning at 0-for-4 with a walk despite a pair of well-hit fly outs to the warning track. The two close calls proved even more frustrating in a ballpark that tends to play small to its hitters.

So, with the game knotted at 2, it was only fitting when Burton’s bases-loaded chopper down the third-base line continued down the chalk until bouncing on the bag and off the chest of Texas redshirt senior 3B Peyton Powell. The weak single was good enough to bring home the go-ahead run in A&M’s 4-2 victory and send the Aggies to the regional championship.

“It played like a big-league park today, that’s for sure,” Burton said. “It went both ways, just trying to stick to the game plan. We had a lot of guys hit balls hard at people, and our pitchers did their job. When it came our time, we loaded the bases up and I just tried to do my part to help the team out.”

The game proved that it doesn’t matter how runs are scored as long as they cross home, as the Aggies benefited from a pair of errors by sophomore SS Jalin Flores to score the game’s tying run in the eighth. Following Burton’s RBI single, A&M plated another run with the help of redshirt junior LHP Chase Lummus’ wild pitch.

Burton isn’t a stranger to timely hitting in clutch moments, delivering two walk-offs in SEC play versus Auburn and Arkansas. Sophomore 2B Kaeden Kent was plated by his chopper after leading off the frame with a single up the middle and represented the Aggies’ first lead of the four-hour affair at a ballpark filled to the brim.

“It feels great walking in that batter’s box knowing you’ve got the 12th Man behind you, just 8,000, 10,000 counting Aggie Alley,” Burton said. “Just on your back, your boys you go to practice with and train with everyday. I just have the utmost confidence, whether home or away, I’ve got my boys behind my back, and if it’s not me, somebody else is gonna do it.”

A lack of offensive firepower cast the spotlight on the game’s pitching staff, with redshirt sophomore LHP Ryan Prager matching up with Texas’ redshirt junior RHP Lebarron Johnson Jr. After starting the Longhorns’ 5-2 win over A&M last season, Johnson continued his success in College Station by limiting the Aggies to one run on two hits and eight strikeouts in five frames.

Johnson’s lone blemish came on freshman LF Caden Sorrell’s game-tying solo shot in the fifth inning. The frame ended with two Aggies in scoring position as Johnson punched out junior RF Braden Montgomery.

“Thank goodness we had Prager on the mound,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “The way I’ve always said you beat a good starting pitcher is you have to have a good starting pitcher going against him.”

Prager met Johnson with 6 ⅓ innings of two-run ball with four hits, four walks and seven punchouts. After a shaky start that saw sophomore 1B Jared Thomas send his first pitch to Aggie Alley for a leadoff solo homer, Prager settled in, highlighted by an immaculate fourth inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches.

“[Pitching] coach Max [Weiner] has said to our pitching staff throughout this year that pitching and the game of baseball isn’t a game of perfect, it’s a game of competing,” Prager said. “I thought that kind of summed up tonight. … I thought, this time of year especially, the most important part is helping the team win, and that’s what I’ll look back on and think of what made this outing so good.”

The second mistake of the game for Prager came in the sixth when redshirt junior DH Kimble Schuessler put Texas ahead with another solo home run to left field. Schuessler made his return to Olsen Field after spending his 2021 freshman season with the Aggies, playing in three games.

The efficiency of the starters on the mound was picked up by the relievers, with A&M senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck keeping the Longhorns at bay over the final 4.2 innings. Texas managed just a walk against the Brenham product as he gave A&M enough time to take the lead.

Extended relief outings in close games have become a familiar setting for Aschenbeck, with eight outings this season of three innings or more. Most recently, he kept Arkansas scoreless across four frames before Burton drew a bases-loaded walk for a 1-0 victory on May 16.

“I just try to be myself, it doesn’t matter what the outing is gonna be like,” Aschenbeck said. “You don’t really know what the next pitch holds, so you’ve just got to worry about where your feet are and where your mind is at that point. Just going pitch by pitch.”

In the other dugout, redshirt sophomore RHP Gage Boehm responded with four innings and one unearned run on one hit and three walks. The Aggies did their damage against Boehm thanks to a couple of throwing miscues by the typically sure-handed Flores. 

Montgomery led off the inning with a routine grounder to the shortstop but reached first as the throw sailed over the head of Thomas. Senior C Jackson Appel answered with a four-pitch walk ahead of a flyout and a strikeout. With two down, junior SS Ali Camarillo sent another groundball to Flores, with his throw to first bringing Thomas off the bag to allow Montgomery to score the tying run.

“It just happened, really,” Texas coach David Pierce said. “I felt like we played well. Just a couple of miscues, but I thought we handled the environment really well.”

Aschenbeck’s greatest impact was felt in the bottom of the 10th, when a leadoff walk put the winning run on third with two outs. Flores, who entered the ballgame hitting at a near-.350 clip, flew out to eliminate the threat and wrap up an 0-for-4 night. The Aggies also silenced the bat of Big 12 Player of the Year Max Belyeu, going 0-for-5.

With the victory, A&M now awaits the winner of Sunday’s 2 p.m. elimination game between Texas and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Aggies will take on either the Longhorns or the Ragin’ Cajuns at Olsen Field at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
Chris Swann
Chris Swann, Photo Chief
Chris is a Journalism junior from Winnsboro, TX. Chris served as the Social Media Manager and Assistant Photo Chief prior to becoming Photo Chief for The Battalion’s photo desk. Before transferring to A&M in the Fall of 2023, Chris spent two years at Tyler Junior College, where he was Photo and Design editor for their student media, The DrumBeat. He is expected to graduate in May of 2026.
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