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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

A fight for survival: The Cardinal handles the Aggies to set up winner-take-all

The+team+watches+Alabama+practice+before+a+game+vs.+Alabama+on+Friday%2C+May+12%2C+2023+at+Blue+Bell+Park.
Photo by Ishika Samant

The team watches Alabama practice before a game vs. Alabama on Friday, May 12, 2023 at Blue Bell Park.

What a difference a night can make. 

Fresh off of a comeback victory on Saturday night, Texas A&M baseball was pitted against the Cardinal once again after Stanford defeated Cal State Fullerton earlier on Sunday, June 4 to advance to the regional finals from the loser’s bracket. While it was crucial situational hitting that gave the Aggies the advantage in their first matchup, Stanford’s offense came alive in what was an elimination game for the Cardinal to set up a winner-take-all regional final on Monday.

Junior LHP Troy Wansing, who was awarded a save in Saturday’s game after coming into the ninth inning in relief, got the start in the crucial conference final. Despite Wansing going eight innings with only one hit in his last start in the SEC Tournament, the southpaw could not locate the strike zone and was forced into an early exit.

To start off the game, the Kansas City native walked the lead-off batter in junior CF Eddie Park and gave up a single to the two-hole hitter junior 3B Tommy Troy. With still no outs in the inning, junior 1B Carter Graham laced a double to left field to put Stanford up 2-0 early.

The Aggies answered Stanford’s bats in the bottom of the inning. After junior SS Hunter Haas blooped a single to shallow center field to get on base, junior 3B Trevor Werner lined a ball off of sophomore RHP TY Uber’s glove, allowing Werner to reach second and Haas to reach third to put two runners in scoring position.

The runner’s positions ended up having no relevance however, as freshman RF Jace LaViolette blasted a deep shot over the fence in center field, giving A&M a 3-2 lead. The home runs would not stop there, as junior LF Ryan Targac belted a fastball well beyond the trees in right field, stretching the lead to two in the bottom of the first.

The lead would not last very long, as Wansing continued to struggle going into the second frame. Like the first inning, the southpaw started off with a walk, but after a fielder’s choice and a strikeout, it appeared that Wansing may get out of the inning unscathed. 

Park had other plans, hitting a single to put runners on the corners with two outs before another walk loaded the bases. Wansing’s day would be done early after this, only going 1.2 innings with five runs on three hits.

Sophomore RHP Chris Cortez came in for relief, but immediately surrendered a bases-clearing double to left field again off of the bat of Graham, putting the Cardinal up one. Not to be outdone, sophomore DH Braden Montgomery roped a double to the same spot in left field, stretching the lead to two.

All was quiet until the bottom of the sixth inning when senior DH Brett Minnich drove a deep shot to right field to bring the Aggies within one run going into the seventh inning.

Any hope of another late-inning comeback was promptly squashed. After a lead-off Montgomery single, junior LF and PAC-12 Player of the Year Albert Rios doubled to right-center field, getting back the run from the bottom of the sixth. Junior LHP Will Johnston, who started A&M’s first regional game, came in for relief of Cortez in an effort to hold the Cardinal scoring to just one.

There would be no relief in sight, as freshman C Malcolm Moore sent a ball deep to right-center field, ballooning the lead to 9-5. A single from sophomore RF Saborn Campbell, a walk from sophomore SS Temo Becerra and a single from Park loaded the bases with just one out. Sophomore RHP Josh Stewart replaced Johnston as coach Jim Schlossnagle looked for someone to stop the bleeding.

Stewart proved to not be the answer, as Troy sent a no-doubter grand slam to left field, putting Stanford up 13-5 and essentially ending any chance the Aggies had at victory.

A&M will face off on Monday against the Cardinal in a winner-take-all regional final to decide who will face off against the Texas Longhorns in super regionals.

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