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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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Bye bye, baseballs

Olsen Field turns into home run derby as Aggies take Game 1 from Bulldogs
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Texas A&M infielder Ted Burton (27) hits a home run during A&M’s game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

For Texas A&M baseball, there has not been a point this season where the best batter was not wearing Maroon and White. Junior RF Braden Montgomery is hitting .370 with 22 home runs and as a team, the Aggies are No. 15 in team batting average and tied for fifth in total home runs.

However, on April 26, for the first time this year, the best batter to step into the box came from the opponent’s dugout, donned in Red and Black. And he made his presence known in his first at-bat.

Sophomore 3B Charlie Condon has been on a historic tear this season, raking a jaw-dropping .477 with 26 home runs. That didn’t last long, as 26 turned to 27 in the first inning after Condon ripped a pitch from sophomore LHP Ryan Prager deep into the stratosphere, and all freshman LF Cade Sorrell could do was watch it sail over the scoreboard in left field to give Georgia the early lead.

Despite the star-studded top of the order for A&M — who have combined for 172 runs batted in this season — it was the rest of the lineup that challenged the expected future No. 1 pick.

The next victim of the steady wind to left field came in the second inning, as senior 1B Ted Burton blasted his own shot to the Rec Center roof, tying the game at 1.

The Huntington Beach, California native didn’t stop there, smashing his second home run of the evening, once again, to left field. Coming into the matchup, Burton had four home runs on the year.

So far in the game, it was three total runs, three home runs all to Aggie Alley. Graduate Georgia RF Dylan Goldstein quickly turned that into four runs, four homers quickly, hitting yet another solo shot, this time to right field, to tie the game once more in the top of the fifth.

Both offenses were feast-or-famine, and in the bottom of the sixth, the Aggies came back for their third serving of the evening, as after Montgomery drew a walk, senior C Jackson Appel hit a smoking line drive to left-center field for the game’s fifth home run and A&M’s fourth run to grab the lead back.

In the top of the seventh, Burton continued his stellar night, as after senior Georgia 1B Corey Collins hit a smoking line-drive to first base, he snagged the ball, throwing to second for the inning-ending double play.

Through six innings, the top of A&M’s batting order had been held quiet, going hitless with six combined strikeouts. Despite this, freshman 3B delivered in the seventh, smoking a home run to Section 12 in right field for the team’s fourth home run, tacking on another run to push the advantage to three.

This would end up being the final run of the night, as senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck closed the door on any chance Georgia had of a comeback, finishing off the final three batters in order to give the Aggies the 5-2 victory in Game 1.

“It was a very well-played baseball game by both teams,” Schlossnagle said. “We happened to get a few more swings than they did. I thought both teams pitched really, really well, especially considering the conditions. And when a few mistakes were made, they were hit. They made maybe one or two more than we did.”

On the night, a runner made it to third once per team, and neither scored. Both teams combined for six home runs, half of the game’s combined 12 hits.

Grahovac, Montgomery and sophomore CF Jace LaViolette only tallied one hit, striking out seven times.

“A lot of the games it’s Jace, Braden, Gavin, even Jackson Appel, they’re just unbelievable, but one through nine, you just never know who’s going to play the best and who’s going to be the player of the game,” Burton said. “That’s what makes us special.”

Despite the hot start, Condon finished 1-4 with his solo shot in the first inning as his only hit.

“[Condon’s] a good player,” Prager said. “It’s just like the wind. You know who you’re playing against, but it doesn’t change how you play. We still have full belief in ourselves and that self confidence in what we’re able to do so, just go be us. Hit the home run in the first, it is what it is … They get their one run and we move on. I thought we did a great job tonight of responding to adversity.”

Prager worked a relatively clean six innings, only giving up two earned runs on five hits. Aschenbeck secured his seventh save of the year, going 2.2 innings while only allowing a lone hit.

“I thought [Prager’s outing] was really important, given the last start,” Schlossnagle said. “I thought he made really good pitches, he kept balls down. He made two mistakes. He tried to run back-to-back fastballs in on Charlie [Condon] and that didn’t turn out great, and then he hung a breaking ball to [Charlie] Goldstein and he made him pay for it.”

With the win, the Aggies have yet to lose a season opener this season, and with a Kentucky loss to South Carolina, are only one game behind for a three-team tie for first in the SEC with the Wildcats and Arkansas.

A&M will be back in action with a double header starting at 1 p.m., with Game 3 slated to start at 5 p.m.

 

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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