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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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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 solve Long Beach State’s Andrews, win series opener 3-1

Junior+Nolan+Hoffman+pitched+for+two+innings%2C+earning+the+save.
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Junior Nolan Hoffman pitched for two innings, earning the save.

Long Beach State starting pitcher Clayton Andrews puzzled Texas A&M’s hitters Friday night at Olsen Field, but the Aggie bats eventually put the pieces together to overcome the short, slender and soft-tossing right hander in a 3-1 win.
“Their starter just did an amazing job, three pitch mix, very competitive, but for us we were able to get to him late and we go to the bullpen and make big pitches to get off the field,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said.
Down 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, A&M second baseman Michael Helman ripped a double down the right field corner, wheeling around third baseman George Janca from first base which tied the game at one. Helman would advance to third on an error by the first baseman.
Long Beach State’s miscue would prove costly, as A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake laced a RBI-single into right field on the next at-bat, giving the Aggies their first lead of the game.
“He’s got a hitter’s heart,” Childress said of Shewmake. “He’s going to keep swinging and he’s going to get his and his one his tonight couldn’t have been bigger and gave us the lead.”
Shewmake credited Janca’s at-bat as the key spark to the Aggies rally though.
“It starts with George,” Shewmake said. “Before both Mike and I, he had two strikes on him and he battled and things haven’t gone his way, but he’s such a competitor and such a good baseball player and everyone in the dugout had that feeling that George was going to do something special and he got us rolling.
“That was 100 percent the key to the rally.”
It was the first time A&M had any success on the Dirtbags starter, Andrews (L, 2-2), who’s outing ended after the seventh, striking out 10 batters.
“He’s such a baseball player,” Childress said of Andrews. “I think any team in the country would be lucky to have him on their team … he’s competitive on the mound, I mean, a change-up you can tell it’s coming and you’re going to have trouble putting a barrel on it.”
A&M’s starting pitcher Stephen Kolek (W, 3-1) tossed a solid game himself, but ran into a pickle in the top of the eighth, allowing a pair of runners in scoring position with one out.
This gave way to right hander Nolan Hoffman to relieve Kolek. The junior right hander worked his way out of the jam in the eighth and came on to close out the night, earning the save (2).
“I was really just trying to go in and pick Stephen up and just happened to get the strikeout,” Hoffman said. “I was just trying to throw it over the plate and luckily I got to two strikes where I get to an approach where I could get a K.”
In the bottom of the eighth, the Aggies added insurance, as left fielder Logan Foster launched a home run deep over the left centerfield fence on the first pitch of the inning.
“I think early in the game, we took too many strikes that were hit-able,” Shewmake said. “I think we got back to our approach and that really helped us in the end.”
Kolek was steady through the middle innings, allowing just four base runners between the second and seventh frames. His only jam came in the fourth, but Shewmake strung together a critical 6-3 double play to strand runners on the corners.
“They did an excellent job tonight,” Kolek said of the defense. “I wouldn’t have made it to the seventh inning without them and they really picked me up.”
The Dirtbags delivered the first punch in the top of the first inning, as Chris Jimenez drove in Jarren Duran on a sharp liner up the middle. Duran led off the game with a first-pitch double to the left field corner.
“Certainly got us on our heels real quick, certainly me as a pitching coach, Childress said. “He hits the first pitch of the game for a double down the left-field line and it was game on … Stephen settled in, couldn’t have been more efficient.”
The Aggies and Dirtbags return to the diamond tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.

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