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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

9-6 loss caps A&M’s rocky weekend in Rocky Top

A Nguyen

Freshman Batter Kasen Wells (20) runs to first base at Olsen Field on Friday, March 17, 2023.

After a weekend series versus No. 12 Tennessee that would hopefully provide answers to the No. 21 Texas A&M baseball team, the Aggies were instead left with more questions as they lost to the Volunteers 9-6 to complete a sweep on Sunday, March 26, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
What changes need to be made for more effective starting and relief pitching?
How can the offense get back to producing at the level it did last season?
How will the team respond to a series loss and sweep in two straight weekends?
After dropping two of three games to No. 1 LSU last weekend, the maroon and white looked to pick up some momentum against Tennessee in its first road series of the season as junior 3B Trevor Werner returned to the field after being out for over two weeks with a hamstring injury.
Instead, the Aggies saw their SEC record drop to 1-5, tying them with Georgia for second-to-last in the conference standings as Mississippi State and Ole Miss, the Aggies’ next SEC opponent, have yet to capture a win.
“It’s just super disappointing, obviously,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Faced a great pitching staff, felt like we competed at home plate, hit a lot of balls hard today. Had 10 hits, six runs, but can’t overcome free bases.”
Thus far, A&M’s season bears resemblance to the 2022 campaign that culminated with the Aggies winning their division and reaching the College World Series. That squad dropped its second series of the season to Penn, much like how this year’s team lost a series to Portland in the second weekend. It also lost two of its first three conference matchups, falling to Auburn and Alabama on the road. Those Aggies later came together to roll through the SEC and postseason, something the 2023 edition looks to replicate.
Schlossnagle sought to answer the first question above with the start of freshman LHP Justin Lamkin on the mound in place of usual Sunday starter sophomore RHP Chris Cortez. Despite successful appearances operating out of the bullpen this season, Lamkin faced a challenge against a lineup collectively batting .297, surrendering six runs on eight hits, a walk and six strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Cortez was brought in to relieve his replacement but struggled with command, giving up a run on three walks, a hit, a hit batter and a strikeout in one frame.
Junior LHP and Quinnipiac transfer Brandyn Garcia made his sixth appearance of the season, with the Volunteers tagging him for two runs on two hits, two walks and a pair of strikeouts in 1.2 innings. Sophomore RHP Robert Hogan was the only one of four A&M pitchers to not surrender a run, allowing a hit and striking out two in the eighth inning.
“I thought Lamkin did a nice job keeping us in the game given the conditions, but we just don’t have enough coming out of the bullpen to help us win ballgames,” Schlossnagle said.
On the other hand, the Aggies did their job at the plate with ten hits against nine Tennessee pitchers, although that number may be deceiving given that six of them pitched less than a full inning. Freshman LF Jace LaViolette had one of his best games of the season with a 3-for-4 showing featuring a run batted in, double and sacrifice fly, while junior SS Hunter Haas continued his reign as A&M’s top hitter with two hits and an RBI.
Yet the Aggies are only hitting .268 as a team as much of last season’s lineup has yet to hit its stride in the batter’s box. Senior DH Austin Bost and Werner finished the weekend with just one hit, while junior 2B Ryan Targac didn’t register a knock.
“It just tells you why every single run’s important,” Schlossnagle said. “When you give up one, you can’t give up two. We gave up a bunch of free bases in the middle of the game, and that’s what changed the game.”
As it did in the other two games this weekend, A&M got on the board in the first inning, but the lead didn’t last for long. This time, Moss belted a towering flyball to left-center field that hit a bleacher and back into the field of play. Initially ruled a double, the call was overturned to a solo shot, traveling 383 feet.
The Volunteers responded in the bottom of the third, as senior 3B Zane Denton smashed a no-doubter 410 feet to left field for a two-run blast and 2-1 lead. In the next half inning, LaViolette doubled before reaching third on a wild pitch, while Werner hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home and knot things up.
Soon after, in the bottom of fourth, two Tennessee singles put runners on the corners with two outs for senior RF Christian Scott to lace a single of his own, plating a runner and making it a 3-2 game. The Aggies continued the seesaw affair in the fifth, as Haas knocked a sacrifice fly to score junior C Hank Bard and even the score at 3 apiece.
The Volunteers continued the action in the bottom half while building their final lead of the game, as Denton led off with his second round-tripper of the day, this one soaring 396 feet. Denton’s dinger was contagious, as two singles and a hit batter loaded the bases for freshman PH Dylan Dreiling to punch a double to the left field corner, scoring two and putting Tennessee up 6-3.
An RBI single by sophomore 1B Blake Burke in the sixth and a 2-RBI base hit from Denton, capping a 3-for-3, five RBI performance, in the seventh added to the home team’s advantage at 9-3. A&M had its most productive frame in the ninth when the game appeared to be all said and done, with a walk and two singles loading the bases for an RBI groundout by Moss. The Aggies picked up their final runs on an error and sacrifice fly by LaViolette.
“Whether you’re at home or away, you can’t give up free bases,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s disappointing, stings, hurts. We’ll find out how we react.”
A&M returns to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, March 28, for the 160th meeting between the Aggies and Texas Longhorns, who are riding a 14-game winning streak following a sweep of Texas Tech. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

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