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 launch by Claunch

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Head coach Jim Schlossnagle (22) accepts the celebratory chip on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Friday, April 8, 2022.

Little League at the Wayne Smith Complex, Opening Day in the Major Leagues and the Aggies at Olsen Field — it is officially baseball season.

On April 7, Texas A&M kicked off its three-game series against Kentucky at Olsen Field with a 3-2 walk-off win. 
From April 8-10, Aggie families will be pulling into College Station to witness a weekend full of ring dunks and A&M baseball. How else could you kick off a Family Weekend without bubbles, ball chants and balancing acts from the Amazing Tyler?

Baseball is one of the only sports where you can witness true player and fan interaction in the heat of the competition. When ‘Pepas’ by Farruko blared from the speakers, Aggie players were clapping with their fans in the student section. 

As the moon continued to rise, the temperature continued to drop, yet the 12th Man proceeded to cheer on their Aggies. Junior pitcher Joseph Menefee’s three strikeout inning in the top of the seventh and graduate catcher Troy Claunch’s two RBIs in the fourth and sixth was enough to keep the fans warm throughout the nine innings.

As each pitcher exited the game, they were given a standing ovation from the 12th Man when they stepped off the mound until they stepped into the dugout. 

Sophomore pitcher Nathan Dettmer had a long night on the mound as he threw 100 pitches and formulated five strikeouts, eight groundouts and five fly balls. Menefee followed up right after the maroon and white ace and sat down four Wildcats on only 22 pitches.

“[Menefee] made a mechanical adjustment about 10 days ago,” A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Now, his velocity is in the low 90s, throwing breaking balls for strikes and striking some good hitters out.”

Minus Chris Cortez’s one pitch in the eighth inning — which resulted in a groundout — each pitcher had at least one strikeout, and by the end of the night, they combined for 14 total. 

Despite having overthrown the pick-off man twice, Claunch made sure to make up for the errors he had behind the plate when he stepped in the box. The former All-Pac 12 catcher hit two singles and can be thanked as the individual who kept the Aggies alive throughout the game with the first RBI of the game and the second to tie it at two in the sixth inning.

As the 10th inning rolled around, the stands were just about empty and quiet enough to hear a book drop at Evans Library in the middle of A&M’s campus.

It wasn’t until the California-native stepped up to the plate one last time and put the game away for good that he had Olsen Field sounding as loud as Kyle Field on a Saturday night in the fall.

With the count even at two, no outs, Claunch stepped up to the plate and skyrocketed the ball to right-center field to secure Game 1 of the weekend series and a 3-2 win at home.

“First walk-off home run in my life,” Claunch said. “The guys in this dugout have been giving me a hard time about not having a home run yet. I hear about it everyday, and for that to be the first one of the season, it feels good.”

Claunch ended the night with three hits at four at-bats and three RBIs, the only runs the Aggies scored all game. The walk-off by the graduate marked his first one for the season and joins the seven other Aggies who’ve hit one this season.

“Just feel relaxed and be loose,” Claunch said. “Try not to think about it too much. Try to keep it as simple as possible and good things happen.”

Game 2 of the three-game series will start Friday, April 8 at Olsen Field at 6:30 p.m.

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