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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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Aggies taken to doghouse by Mississippi State, walked off in Game 1

Photo by A Nguyen

Junior UTL Ryan Targac (16) hits the home run RBI during Texas A&M’s game against Ole Miss at Olsen Field on Sunday, April 2, 2023.

23 combined walks and a walk-off sure does sound like a lot of strolling for a Thursday night.
After falling apart in the final home series of the season against Alabama last weekend, Texas A&M baseball hit the road for the final conference series of the year. Coming into one of the country’s toughest road environments in Dudy Noble Field, the Aggies continued to stumble. After holding a lead for most of the game, a ninth-inning collapse gave A&M a 10-8 series-opening loss and, more importantly, put its postseason aspirations into question.
Junior RHP Nathan Dettmer was in his usual starting position for the Thursday, May 18 matchup, facing off against Mississippi State sophomore RHP Colby Holcombe.
Both pitchers worked clean first frames, but the Bulldogs drew first blood in the second inning. After Dettmer walked freshman LF Dakota Jordan, junior RF Kellum Clark hit a single up the middle that landed in front of senior CF Jordan Thompson. Thompson attempted to throw out Jordan as he headed for third base on the hit, but the ball got away from junior 3B Trevor Werner, sending Jordan home and giving Mississippi State the one-run lead.
The Aggies answered right back in the top of the third, as Targac led off the inning with a double to right field to put the leadoff man in scoring position. Freshman C Max Kaufer and junior SS Hunter Haas both drew walks to load the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly brought Targac home to tie the game at 1, but a Werner groundout and a Thompson strikeout saw the Bulldogs get out of the third frame with minimal damage.
The bottom of the third inning was not friendly to Dettmer’s ankles. Leading off the inning, junior Mississippi State 2B Amani Larry struck a hard-hit ball right back to the right-hander, striking it directly off of Dettmer’s ankle. In a scary situation, the San Antonio Native immediately dropped to the ground in pain as the ball went careening into shallow right field, eventually being chased down by junior 1B Jack Moss.
After a visit from the medical staff, Dettmer appeared to be OK, much to the relief of not just Aggies, but everyone in attendance, drawing an applause from the crowd.
A sacrifice bunt from freshman C Ross Highfill sent Larry to third in the next at-bat, and another single back towards Dettmer by freshman SS David Mershon drove in a run to put the Bulldogs back on top.
After a walk to junior CF Colton Ledbetter, the right-hander had to endure yet another ball to his ankles from an infield single by sophomore DH Hunter Hines, loading the bases with only one out. Despite the jam, Dettmer managed to only allow the one run in the inning, forcing a lineout and a flyout to get out of the inning only down one run and two hit ankles.
The Aggies led off the fourth with another set of walks, this time from seniors DH Brett Minnich and 2B Austin Bost, putting two on base with no outs. Targac quickly turned runners into runs, blasting a 3-run shot 379 feet to right field to put A&M up 4-2.
Holcombe continued to struggle finding the strike zone for the Bulldogs, and Aggie hitters continued to not chase bad pitches. After the home run, Kaufer drew his second walk of the game, and a Moss walk and Werner single loaded the bases with one out. LaViolette kept up with the trend, walking in a run in the next at-bat to stretch the lead to three. Thompson brought in Moss on a fielder’s choice, and the Aggies took a 6-2 lead to the fifth inning.
A&M came into the weekend ranked fourth in the country in base on balls, and Game 1 showed just why. The Aggies drew 15 walks against a Bulldog pitching staff that ranked 274th in walks allowed per nine innings.
Going into the bottom of the fifth, A&M held a 7-2 lead thanks to Haas scoring on a passed ball in the top of the inning. Despite the five-run lead, Mississippi State did not let sleeping dogs lie, as the Bulldogs drew within two runs thanks to a bases-clearing double from sophomore RF Slate Alford.
Mississippi State then tied the game in the sixth inning, with Larry leading off with a first-pitch drive over the left-field wall to cut the lead to one. A sacrifice fly scored Mershon after he walked to get on base and a single from Ledbetter sent him to third.
7-7 would not be on the board for much longer, as Targac — who showed why he is nicknamed “The Halletsville Hammer” — hit another home run to the right field concourse to put the Aggies back in front all the way to the bottom of the ninth.
That is where it all went wrong for A&M.
After failing to get insurance runs with bases loaded in the top of the ninth, the Aggies took a slim one-run lead to the bottom of the inning. Junior LHP Brandyn Garcia, who had pitched two solid innings, immediately put the pressure on A&M with a four-pitch walk, but a flyout from Clark appeared to calm the southpaw on the mound. This was until Mississippi State sophomore DH Bryce Chance drew the second walk of the inning, putting a runner in scoring position with only one out.
Coach Jim Schlossnagle went to junior LHP Will Johnston after this in an attempt to close the game out with a victory. A chopper up the middle in the next at-bat gave the Bulldogs two in scoring position, but with two outs.
After holding the lead since the seventh inning, a wild pitch from Johnston scored Jordan to tie the game at eight.
If that was the right hook, the knockout punch came from the man who had done it all for the Bulldogs in Game 1. Not content with extra innings, Larry blasted a pitch to left field, deep over the fence. Down to their final out, the Bulldogs shocked the Aggies, who led for most of the game but fell 10-8.
Now sitting at 30-23, A&M’s postseason contention is beginning to come into question.
“Aggies will need to win the next two, or go on a massive run in Hoover to make the NCAA Tournament,” Kendall Rogers, managing editor for D1Baseball, said in a tweet.
Game 2 is set for 6 p.m. Friday and can be streamed on the SEC Network+.

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