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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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United they fall

A&M rally comes up short as Tennessee wins MCWS title
Texas+A%26M+outfielder+Jace+Laviolette+%2817%29+reacts+in+the+dugout+after+Texas+A%26M%E2%80%99s+game+against+Tennessee+at+the+NCAA+Men%E2%80%99s+College+World+Series+finals+at+Charles+Schwab+Field+in+Omaha%2C+Nebraska+on+Monday%2C+June+24%2C+2024.+%28Hannah+Harrison%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Hannah Harrison
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)

No one involved with Texas A&M baseball ever believed they were going to lose. 

Despite being down 6-1 to Tennessee by the end of the seventh inning in game three of the Men’s College World Series championship series, the Aggies fought back. 

They scratched and clawed their way to cut it down to a one-run deficit, and never had a doubt that they’d dogpile and party the night away when they hoisted the trophy.

“There’s no panic, man,” graduate DH Hayden Schott said. “Down 6-1, we have full belief in whoever’s up. And if you strike out, alright, I’m high fiving [senior 1B Ted Burton] to go pick me up…The belief never faded, not until that final strike.”

How different the story would be if things didn’t end 6-5. If A&M was able to muster just one more run. If freshman LF Gavin Grahovac’s and senior C Jackson Appel’s ninth-inning scores could have been joined by just one more joyous Aggie. 

Or if there was just one more Volunteer mistake. One more wild pitch, like the ones that scored Appel and moved Grahovac to third in the ninth. 

For that matter, what if the season-ending injuries to junior OF Braden Montgomery and sophomore LHP Shane Sdao don’t occur in the Aggies’ super regional against Oregon?

What if, what if, what if? It’s a question that has to be asked, in the aftermath of any game with a national championship on the line. That doesn’t make it any less painful. 

“Everybody could say ‘if if if, if we would have done this, if we would have done that,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I mean, Tennessee was without [sophomore RHP] A.J. Russell, who is a great pitcher, but they still won a national title. Everybody’s got to fight through something. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just another example that I can use as a coach and players can remember that your time can come and it can change in an instant.”

One last rally

For a moment, it looked like an A&M comeback — and a story for the ages — was on the horizon. 

After Tennessee backed the Aggies into a corner thanks to a three-run seventh inning, the Maroon & White began to rally in the eighth inning. It started with an Appel single that prompted a pitching change from the Vols. 

And after a couple of timely wild pitches moved Appel around the bases, Schott was able to drive Appel home with his third single of the night.

That got the flame of hope within the hearts of Aggie fans — or at least those whose belief in victory wasn’t quite as strong as that of the Aggies’ on the field — flickered to life. 

Then freshman RF Caden Sorrell scored Schott on an RBI double, and the flame grew. As the runs slowly came in through the ninth inning, the flame burned and it burned until the last strike of the night — and of the Aggies season. 

Lasting legacy

In mere moments, thoughts of an eminent national championship are so cruelly turned into questions about the legacy this team will leave behind.

What’s the big takeaway? What will the thoughts of this team — and the thoughts of Aggies everywhere about this team — look like five, ten and thirty years from now?

Is this just Battered Aggie Syndrome-induced pain and agony, as A&M’s national title drought in the “Big Three” men’s sports of football, men’s basketball, and baseball continues for yet another season after the closest the Aggies had been to the mountaintop in decades? Perhaps. 

How can anyone possibly know?

“It’s just tough to think big picture when literally 20, 30 minutes ago we were battling,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s been a special team. I don’t know. There’s never been an A&M team play this far…But this is an incredible team. Not just because of its record, but because of their character, how fun they are to be around.”

This isn’t a Disney movie. There’s no happily ever after. For Appel — who was inches away from a tag at home plate that would have stopped Tennessee’s sixth run — and Burton, who struck out swinging to end A&M’s season — there are plenty of sleepless nights and years of mental purgatory ahead.

Just like the rest of this season, the Aggies will go through it together. 

“I’m grateful for those guys in that dugout and those guys in that clubhouse,” Schott said. “They made it the best year of my life, as far as the whole year. We just lost the last game. So I’m not exactly thinking of the whole year, but I’m thinking of those guys. I’m sure I’ll get back to baseball in a little bit. But I’m just grateful for those guys, and the 12th Man.”

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About the Contributors
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
Hannah Harrison
Hannah Harrison, Photographer
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  • T

    Terrence FrostJun 25, 2024 at 3:26 pm

    Ian Curtis, Sports Writer for The Battlion, expresses well the “Agony of Defeat” in his article “United they fall.” But these young men didn’t fall. Instead, they rose and climbed to the mountain top of the College World Series. They were not defeated. They showed the fans and viewing audience; their grit, determination, and fighting spirit to the end. That is the Aggie Spirit. Thank you guys for a fabulous baseball season.

    Reply
  • J

    Jeanette LeeseJun 25, 2024 at 8:23 am

    It was an awsome 3 days for us as well as thousands of Aggies in Omaha. Withh 300 teams in Division 1 baseball, second place is a great accomplishment. The team should hold their heads up high. Thank you all, players, coaches and Coach Schonogle. What a year!!!!

    Reply
  • D

    Dean '68'Jun 25, 2024 at 8:00 am

    Who was the asshole that did that to coach at the post game conference?

    Reply