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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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Aggie hitting makes up for pitching woes in sweep of Northern Kentucky

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Junior LHP Evan Aschenbeck (53) throws a pitch from the mound during Texas A&M’s game against Louisville at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on Friday, March 3, 2023.

In another Sunday series finale moved up for travel accommodations, Texas A&M baseball looked to finish off the Northern Kentucky Norse to secure its second series sweep of the season before kicking off conference play next weekend against No.1 LSU.
A&M held NKU — who ranked 31st in runs coming into the series — to just two runs on Friday and Saturday. The Aggies could not replicate that production on the mound on Sunday, as the bullpen surrendered seven runs on 10 hits. Despite this, A&M’s bats continued its strong weekend at the plate and rallied late to give the Aggies a 10-7 victory.
Sophomore RHP Chris Cortez, coming off of a solid performance against Texas Tech where he went 5.1 innings with one run, struggled in his fourth start of the season.The right-hander went just 2.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits. Cortez also issued two walks in his short appearance.
“Chris just wasn’t commanding the ball, wasn’t commanding his off-speed pitches,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “[He] had a rough day. He’s been much better than that, and we’ll anticipate him being better than that next week.”
The bullpen also struggled in relief for Cortez, with junior LHP Evan Ashenbeck, senior RHP Carson Lambert and freshman LHP Shane Sdao combining for three earned runs on six hits with two walks.
“We played 16 innings against Tech less than a week ago, then we played two midweeks,” junior LHP Will Johnston said. “It’s tough to win five ball games in less than seven days. I’m really proud of the way we competed. That’s just the way the game works, it’s never going to be perfect.”
A bright spot on the mound for the Aggies was Johnston. Coming in with two outs in the seventh, he struck out four and did not allow a hit in his appearance.
“Willy’s incredible,” junior 1B Jack Moss said. “We have all the confidence in him, and really anybody who comes out of that bullpen. I believe that we have one of the best pitching staffs in the country. All our job is to play behind them and give those guys some confidence.”
A&M, like it had all weekend, struck early and struck often.
In the bottom of the first, freshman RF Kasen Wells drew a walk to get the leadoff batter on base for the Aggies. Junior SS Hunter Haas singled to left in the next at-bat, giving A&M two baserunners with no outs.
Moss followed up Haas with a long single that — without some base running confusion from Haas and Wells — would have ended up as a double and scored both, but instead it only drove in Wells to open the scoring for the Aggies.
The base running error went unpenalized, as senior DH Austin Bost singled to left to drive in Haas.
After a strikeout from junior 2B Ryan Targac and an infield fly from freshman LF Jace LaViolette, the Norse loaded the bases by hitting senior CF Jordan Thompson. Freshman 3B Kaeden Kent made them pay with a single to drive in Moss, stretching A&M’s lead to 3-0.
Despite the early production, a four-run third and three-run top of the fifth inning by the Norse put the Aggies down 7-3 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but A&M responded by scoring at least one run in every inning, scoring two in the fifth, seventh and eighth and one run in the sixth.
“[It is] really easy to panic,” Schlossnagle said. “Really proud of our guys to battle back and score those two runs right after they went up 7-3. I think it says a lot about our team, especially with so many guys down and playing so many young players.”
In the top of the ninth, after striking out two but giving up three free bases, Johnston faced a two-out, bases-loaded jam as Northern Kentucky looked to tie or take the lead. Johnston delivered, forcing a groundout to first base to secure the sweep.
“It’s not how you want to finish it,” Johnston said. “We’re just too good to be doing stuff like that. We pitch behind in the count, bad things are going to happen. We play too good of teams to be doing that.”
Haas, Moss, Bost and Kent all had multi-hit performances, while Thompson led the team with three RBIs. This is also the sixth time the Aggies have scored double digit runs this season.
“We’ve had to plug some guys in that haven’t necessarily been around college baseball a lot,” Moss said. “I think that they’ve done an unbelievable job. My job for those guys is just to remind them that the game is really hard, and do what you can with what you’ve got.”

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