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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Aggies can’t overcome five-run second inning, fall to Louisville 8-4

Photo by By Heath Clary

Blake Kopetsky went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in the Aggies’ 8-4 loss to Louisville. 

OMAHA, Neb. — In both games of Day One of the College World Series, the team that won got behind by multiple runs early only to consistently chip away and come out on top.
Texas A&M appeared on its way to becoming the third such team to do that when the Aggies scored twice in the sixth to make it a one-run game, but Louisville answered with two of its own in the bottom-half of the inning and used a dominant relief outing by Sam Bordner to vanquish the Aggies 8-4.
“I was thinking about that,” senior outfielder Walker Pennington told me after the game. “I knew that when we ended the fifth we were down 5-4 and we had the top of our lineup up. Honestly our whole dugout believed we were still going to win and it didn’t happen but with the way those other games went it seemed like it was going to be our day.
“Credit to Louisville, they pushed some runs across late and that was the difference.”
The Cardinals (53-10) jumped out to an early lead off A&M starter Corbin Martin in the second inning. After Martin needed only 13 pitches to retire the side in order in the first, the second was an entirely different story. The first four Louisville batters of the inning all singled to make it 2-0 and, after a sacrifice bunt, a walk and a strikeout loaded the bases with two outs, Colby Fitch roped a full-count two-run single to right that chased Martin from the game.
Brigham Hill, the Aggies’ usual No. 1 starter, entered the game in relief of Martin and promptly surrendered an RBI single to Devin Mann.
In all, Louisville notched six singles and five runs in the decisive second inning.
“We were fighting uphill the rest of the game,” Pennington said.
Hill recovered to turn in a gutsy relief effort for the Aggies (41-22). He lasted 3.2 innings, pitching into the sixth, and at one point retired nine straight hitters.
“Brigham is awesome — Brigham was Brigham today,” said freshman second baseman Braden Shewmake. “There’s not another guy that we have on our pitching staff that I trust more than Brigham Hill.”
Said Pennington: “He pitched great. He just came out, started attacking the zone and got them off balance. He gave us a bunch of zeroes in a row and that gave our offense a chance to get back in the game. Without him doing what he did we probably wouldn’t have had a chance.”
Meanwhile the Aggie offense, which got the leadoff man aboard in each of the first three innings but couldn’t push him across, came alive in the fourth.
Cole Bedford led off the inning with a walk and Blake Kopetsky followed with a double into the right field corner to put runners on second and third with no outs. Then Walker Pennington drove in Bedford with a sacrifice fly to deep center and George Janca plated Kopetsky moments later with an RBI single.
After Hill threw two scoreless frames, A&M did similar damage in the sixth.
Bedford again reached base to lead it off and Kopetsky again followed with a double, this time of the RBI variety as Bedford scored from first. Pennington then singled home Kopetsky to make it a one-run game and chase Louisville starter Brendan McKay from the game.
All that did was bring Bordner out of the bullpen for Louisville, though, and he proceeded to retire all nine batters he faced.
Janca moved Pennington into scoring position with a sac bunt, but Bordner induced consecutive flyouts by Austin Homan and Nick Choruby to end the threat. After that, Bordner was lights out for two more frames as he extended his hitless streak to 8.2 innings this postseason.
“He’s got good downhill tilt to his ball, he throws hard and he throws strikes,” Shewmake said of Bordner. “When you throw hard and hit spots, it’s tough to hit.”
McKay was controlling the inner-half of the plate against the Aggies when he was on the mound, while Bordner pounded fastballs away, and A&M did not adjust.
In the end, it was a lack of execution with men on base that cost the Aggies, as they left six men on base in the contest.
“We had good at-bats the whole game,” Pennington said. “In the end we just couldn’t drive runs in when we needed to and at this level that’s the difference between winning and losing.”
The Aggies found a bit of solace in the fact that they made McKay, the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft, uncomfortable for the duration of his start and scored four runs off of him.
“Texas A&M was not going to fold,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said in the postgame press conference. “You put up a 5-spot with Brendan McKay, you know some teams will cave. They were not going to do that and battled back.”
Louisville tacked on another run in the eighth on an RBI fielder’s choice, but Kaylor Chafin came in for the Aggies and got out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation with no runs allowed.
The Aggies will return to TD Ameritrade Park on Tuesday and face the loser of Sunday night’s TCU-Florida matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
“It’s about going out there playing the game like it’s your last one because now it could be,” Choruby said. “We say that throughout the year, ‘Try to play your heart out, play like it’s going to be your last game’. And now since it really could be our last game, I think that might be easier for us to do.”

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