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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A&M falls in MCWS finals as Tennessee forces game three
Photo by Chris Swann
Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

By the seventh inning in game two of Texas A&M baseball’s Men’s College World Series championship series against Tenneseee, it looked like the Aggies were on the verge of their first national championship.

Up 1-0 thanks to a first-inning home run from sophomore RF Jace Laviolette, the Aggies held onto the narrow lead through most of Sunday’s game in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Enter Tennessee sophomore LF Dylan Drieling: Drieling sent the first hit of his stint in Omaha soaring to the seats beyond the bullpen in right field, giving Tennessee a 2-1 lead that it would not relinquish.

“Exactly what you’d expect with these two teams,” A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “To think you’re going to roll right through it in two games, that would have been nice, but we get to play — we don’t have to play, we get to play — the last college baseball game of the season, and that’s awesome.” 

The Volunteers were able to seal the deal with another two-run home run in the eighth inning, this time from senior C Cal Stark.

“Every kid dreams about playing at this stage,” Stark said. “Being able to do that late in the game was pretty cool, and something I’ll never forget. And then I feel like it just kept us rolling momentum wise.

The hitters may lay claim to the highlight reel, but the story of the day was the pitcher’s duel that developed between the two rival bullpens.

Bullpen Battle

For the first time this season, senior RHP Zane Badmaev earned the start for the Aggies, recording two strikes in an inning of work as the Volunteers were held scoreless in the first frame before being replaced by junior RHP Chris Cortez on the mound in the second inning.

“Chris admitted he has some anxiety with starting the game,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s awesome once he feels better once he can just get ready quick and jump in the game. So [it] felt like Zane was the best choice just to get us to maybe the first three outs. And then he did, and we were going to go one batter at a time after that.

The middle innings turned into a war between Cortez and Tennessee junior RHP Drew Beam. 

Both teams left runners stranded on multiple occasions. Both pitchers recorded seven strikeouts — in four innings of work for Beam, and 4 1/3 for Cortez. And the scoreline still did not change.

The duel did not last thanks to Drieling’s homer — and the work of junior RHP Aaron Combs on the mound for the Vols.

Combs came in in the fifth inning and held the Aggies scoreless through four innings of work while giving up a mere three hits and adding five strikeouts of his own to Tennessee’s total.

“It felt like he was executing pitches whenever he needed to,” LaViolette said. “Obviously, they have a really good pitching staff, and give a lot of credit to them, but I just feel like [we] make a few better swings and a few balls land and it’s a different game. But that’s baseball, and it happens.”

Meanwhile, the Aggies resorted to bullpen by committee, utilizing a trio of pitchers to close out the final 3 2/3 innings. 

Schlossnagle says the Aggies opted to save closer senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck — who was warming up in the Aggies’ bullpen late in the game after closing out Saturday’s game one — for tomorrow’s finale.

“We took a risk,” Schlossnagle said. “Obviously, Evan was on my mind there when Drieling hit the homer. I just thought it was a lot to ask for him to get seven outs after last night…We’re going into the last game of the season and [sophomore LHP Justin] Lamkin is ready to roll, [junior RHP Josh] Stewart now has a day and Aschenbeck has a day. So I’ll take that.”

The potential storybook moment — senior PH Ryan Targac, the 12th Man, pinch-hitting with two runners on base and two outs — fell just a few feet short, as Targac flew out to the warning track on what would have been a game-tying home run.

“If that ball falls, it’s a different game,” LaViolette said. “And as long as we keep putting good quality at-bats together and keep doing what we’ve been doing this whole tournament [and] this whole postseason honestly, I feel like we can do everything we want. We can win the whole thing.”

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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 
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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