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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

Aggies drop marathon game to Tennessee 5-3 in 14 innings

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Photo by File

Stephen Kolek tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts Saturday against Mississippi State. 

In a near-five hour contest, Texas A&M battled mightily but ultimately fell to Tennessee 5-3 after the Volunteers (20-17, 5-13 SEC) scored two in the 14th to break free of the Aggies (28-13, 10-8 SEC).

“Incredibly disappointing finish to the weekend,” A&M head coach Rob Childress simply put it.

Reliever John Doxakis (2-2) sandwiched a pair of walks around a lineout in the top of the 14th before Luc Lipcius delivered the go-ahead single to left field, bringing home Matt Waldren from second.

After Doxakis was pulled in favor of Turner Larkins, the junior right-hander issued another walk to load the bases. Pete Derkay then worked a full-count walk to plate Justin Ammons – giving the Vols added insurance.

“Certainly disappointing to give it away in the last inning with four walks and one hit,” Childress added.

The Aggies had a golden opportunity to extend their lead in the seventh after getting the bases loaded with no outs. Freshman Zach Linginfelter (3-4) ended any chance of A&M increasing its advantage, however, inducing three straight outs to end the attack.

UT knotted the game up at three in the eighth, as Jordan Rodgers finally found his mojo. After striking out in his first three at-bats, UT’s top hitter stepped up when his team needed it most, sneaking a grounder just fair inside the third base line to score Waldren and Jeff Moberg.

“Our inability to finish there in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, nobody out and our four, five and six, we can’t drive anybody in,” Childress said. “Go back out in the eighth and allow them to tie the game. We had our opportunities throughout the course of the day.”

Linginfelter continued to show his brilliance, tossing seven innings in relief, allowing just three hits while striking out a career-high eight batters to just one walk.

“He just came right at us, honestly, and we didn’t do a good enough job of attacking right back at him,” Nick Choruby said of Linginfelter’s superb outing.

After the fifth inning, the Aggies were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and failed to score another run, two marks that hindered them from building a comfortable lead or breaking through in the end.

“It really wasn’t even that we couldn’t get something going, it’s just that we couldn’t get that big hit to drive everybody in,” Choruby added.

Hidden beneath the frustrating loss and Linginfelter’s exceptional appearance was a spectacular start from A&M pitcher Stephen Kolek. The sophomore right-hander tossed seven innings, allowing two runs on three hits. Kolek also struck out a career-high 11 batters while walking just two.

Despite his stellar start, Kolek was still frustrated with the loss but acknowledged he still had a solid performance.

“Obviously you want to win, but I felt good about my outing,” Kolek said. “Keeping the ball down [was the key to strikeouts.] Try not to leave it above the knees and usually that works out pretty well and I feel like I did that pretty good today.”

Childress added that Kolek has continued to get better each week and has been at his best in his last three Sunday starts.

“For the last three weeks, that’s the best I’ve seen him and I’ve said that each of the last three Sunday’s,” Childress said of Kolek. “Today’s the best I’ve seen him. He was fabulous, deserved a lot better fate than he got today.”

A&M struck first in the second, putting up two runs in the frame. After loading the bases to begin the half inning, Blake Kopetsky dribbled a slow grounder to second, beating the throw to first on a double-play chance, scoring Hunter Coleman. Austin Homan then laid down a perfect first-pitch sacrifice bunt down the first base line on the next at-bat to bring home Joel Davis.

UT inched back in the fourth, cutting the Aggies’ lead in half. Andre Lipcuis ripped a two-out double off the short wall in right field, coming home on Derkay’s double back into the right field corner.

The Aggies pushed their lead back to two in the fifth. After Vols’ starter Zach Warren got two quick outs, Choruby sent a slow, tricky grounder down the first base line, reaching on an infield single, but moved to second on an error by Warren. Two batters later, Braden Shewmake punched a single up the middle to plate Choruby from second after Logan Foster drew a full-count walk on the previous at-bat.

A&M returns to action this Tuesday when it hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. and will be aired on SEC Network Plus.

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