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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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Aggies squeak out nail-biting victory over Army

Photo by Photo by Megan Cusick

The third pitcher for the Aggies was junior Bryce Miller from New Braunfels, Texas.

In the top of the ninth, Texas A&M right-handed pitcher Bryce Miller stalled an Army comeback, recording two outs with runners in scoring position, as the No. 21 Aggies managed to hold on and defeat the Black Knights 6-5 Saturday afternoon at Olsen Field.
With the victory, the Aggies keep their perfect start to the season alive, moving to 7-0 and securing their second weekend series win. For the Black Knights, the team continues their early season struggles with their fourth consecutive loss.
Being able to see how the team responded to a close game scenario at the end of the game was something the team needed, said A&M coach Rob Childress.
“I told our team after the game, we needed that,” Childress said. “As we continue to grow as a team, we’ve got to play with pressure on us late and they certainly answered with that. Their starter had a great performance last week against Duke and I thought he got them off to a great start, he was very efficient. We finally got to him in the fifth and got him out of the game and had a chance to throw the knockout blow in the sixth, seventh and eighth [innings]. We couldn’t capitalize on that, but yet we still handed the ball to our guys at the end of the game with a 6-3 lead and they made it stand up. It wasn’t clean and pretty but it was certainly a job well done.”
Entering the top of the ninth, the Aggies were attempting to maintain a one-run lead over Army, after allowing two runs in the top of the eighth. Miller, who ended the eighth inning for right-handed pitcher Joseph Menefee, started off the ninth by hitting Army shortstop Kevin Dubrule before a single by pinch hitter Hunter Meade allowed two runners to get on base with no outs. A sacrifice bunt by Army center fielder Carter Macias that was nearly a single moved runners onto second and third base, with A&M facing leftfielder Andre Walden. With no margin for error, Miller struck out Walden swinging to record the second out of the inning. With the end of the game in sight, Miller forced third baseman Anthony Giachin to fly out to A&M centerfielder Ray Alejo, securing the Aggie victory. Miller ended the game with a save on two innings pitches, two hits and no earned runs.
Starting the game on the mound for A&M was Christian Roa (2-0), who recorded another double-digit strikeout performance on saturday. After giving up two runs in the top of the first, Roa retired the side for the next four innings, including eight strikeouts to end his day. Roa finished with 95 pitches thrown through five innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, zero walks and recording 10 strikeouts in 17 at-bats. His ability to shut down the Army offense in the second through fifth innings was a big reason for the Aggies success, allowing them to keep the score close despite not scoring often.
After struggling in the first inning, being able to calm himself down was a big contributor in the victory, said Roa.
“I threw myself into a hole in the first inning,” Roa said. “Coach Childress came out to calm me down and do a little damage control. From there on, everyone was making great plays behind me. Hunter [Coleman] caught an amazing game. In the fifth, the bats were rolling, and the bullpen made it stand up in the end.”
Facing Patriot-league pitcher of the week Logan Smith on the mound, the Aggie offense struggled to score all game, leaving 11 runners on base while only scoring six runs. After securing a run in the first inning off of a single by designated hitter Will Frizzell, the Aggies closed the Army lead to one after the first inning. Through the next three innings, A&M couldn’t close the gap, with Smith retiring the side for both the fourth and the fifth innings.
Then in the fifth inning, the Aggies capitalized on Army errors to build a four-run lead. With the bases loaded and no outs, a sacrifice fly by shortstop Trevor Werner allowed rightfielder Zach DeLoach to score, tying the game at 2-2. One batter later, a throwing error by Giachin as he tried to throw home allowed Alejo to score from third base, giving the Aggies their first lead of the game. Giachin committed another error on the next batter, as a fielding error allowed first baseman Zane Schmidt to score, extending the A&M lead to two. A double by left fielder Cam Blake allowed Ty Coleman to score, before a third Army error, this time by Dubrule, allowed third baseman Bryce Blaum to score, giving the Aggies five runs in the inning off of two hits and three errors.
Over the last three innings, the Aggies were unable to capitalize on loading the bases, failing to drive in runners in scoring position and extend their lead. In the bottom of the sixth, the Aggies left two runners on base after a double play ended their inning. In the seventh, a Werner hit in the infield resulted in an out at second base, leaving the Aggies with three runners on base. Then in the bottom of the eighth, after Army cut the A&M lead to one in the top frame, the Aggies had runners on second and first with no outs. After loading the bases on a walk of Blaum, Logan Britt ended the inning with a ground out, leaving the Aggies with a combined eight runners on base through these three innings.
With the strength of the pitching staff, the team is able to lean on their bullpen to secure victories when offense is struggling, said Blaum.
“A win like this speaks volumes to our pitching staff,” Blaum said. “I’ve said this before, I personally believe we had the best pitching staff in the country. Guys like Dustin Saenz, Justin Menafee, and then you have Bryce Miller who’s just electric at the back of the bullpen. To be able to lean on those guys and trust them when we don’t have the day we want, it’s an incredible feeling, to know that we have him at the back end.
The Aggies finish their weekend series against the Black Knights Sunday afternoon looking to secure a sweep. Left-handed pitcher Chandler Jozwiak is slated to start for A&M. First pitch is scheduled for noon, with the game being A&M’s military appreciation game.

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