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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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Aggies walk off South Carolina in 13-12 comeback win

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Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior right fielder Brett Minnich (23) eats Pringle after hitting walk-off home run  to beat South Carolina 13-12 on Saturday, May 7.

“I’ve seen ‘em lose and I’ve seen ‘em win, but I’ve never seen ‘em quit.” 

Written over 70 years ago, this excerpt regarding Texas A&M athletes from the poem “The Last Corps Trip” still holds true today, and on Saturday, May 7, the Texas A&M baseball team was as good an example as you’ll find. 

The Aggies found themselves trailing 9-0 as they entered the fifth inning of their contest versus South Carolina at Olsen Field after a quick offensive attack by the Gamecocks. However, the team’s potent offense stepped up, amassing 16 hits en route to a 13-12 victory over the Gamecocks, capped off by junior right fielder Brett Minnich’s walk-off two-run homer.

“Holy cow, what an awesome game,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “[We have] super competitive kids, the ballpark played small today, and the guys just kept battling.”

South Carolina jumped on junior starting pitcher Micah Dallas in the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single by senior first baseman Kevin Madden. The Gamecocks’ offense then exploded in the second inning, tallying seven runs on seven hits to take an 8-0 lead. The inning’s scoring began with an RBI single by freshman shortstop Michael Braswell, followed by a throwing error by Dallas that allowed a run to score. South Carolina then rattled off three RBI singles, and a wild pitch by sophomore relief pitcher Wyatt Tucker allowed the inning’s final run to score. 

Dallas’ recent struggles continued, as he was removed from the game after lasting 1.1 innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

The Gamecocks bolstered their lead to 9-0 in the fourth inning with a solo homer by senior designated hitter Josiah Sightler. After the longball, the South Carolina bats cooled off with just four hits and one run until the ninth inning. 

The Aggies got on the board in the fifth inning after Minnich drew a one-out, bases-loaded walk to plate a run. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Targac then gave A&M fans a glimmer of hope with a grand slam just over the left field wall to make it a 9-5 ballgame. 

“[We realized] that we don’t always have to play to what the score is,” Targac said. “We were down 8-0 in the second, so at that point we weren’t playing to score, we were playing our game. It showed too because we came back and we walked it off.”

The Gamecocks added an insurance run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly from junior catcher Colin Burgess that allowed Braswell to score, making it a 10-5 ballgame. Tucker was removed from the game after the run, having lasted 5.1 innings while allowing two runs on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. 

The Aggies inched closer in the seventh inning, as Targac continued his hot streak with an RBI single to score graduate catcher Troy Claunch from second and bring the maroon and white within four at 10-6. 

Much like the temperatures in the mid-90s, the A&M bats heated up in the eighth inning. Graduate infielder Rody Barker, with just two at-bats on the season, entered as a pinch hitter for graduate shortstop Kole Kaler and doubled for his first hit of the season. Sophomore third baseman Trevor Werner then blasted a no-doubt home run to left field, proving that the now-10-8 ballgame was far from over.

“I was just going up there just thinking, ‘Be me and find a good pitch to hit,’” Barker said. “I wanted to put a good swing on it and try to give our team a little spark to give us the best chance to win.”

Not skipping a beat, sophomore first baseman Jack Moss and graduate designated hitter Dylan Rock each roped base hits, while junior left fielder Austin Bost worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. Minnich, batting with the bases loaded for the second time, promptly hit an easy infield grounder that allowed Moss to score, bringing A&M within one. Then, three innings after trailing by nine, the Aggies took the 11-10 lead after Claunch hit a grounder just beyond the glove of Braswell for a single that scored Rock and Bost.

“I was one out away from taking [Troy] Claunch out of the game because I wanted to get him out to be able to play tomorrow,” Schlossnagle said. “I told myself that if we scratch for a run [in the fifth inning] I will leave him in. There were just a lot of crazy things in that game, especially in this heat.”

South Carolina refused to go down without a fight, though, as junior second baseman Braylen Wimmer silenced the Olsen Field crowd of 5,806 with a solo home run to knot the contest at 11 all. The Gamecocks would then score the go-ahead run when fifth-year left fielder Brandt Belk tapped a dribbler down the third base line that went foul before rolling back into fair territory. Graduate reliever Jacob Palisch, despite reaching the ball in time, made an error on the throw to allow the runner to score.

At the start of the ninth inning, it seemed as if the Aggies’ comeback attempt would fall just short when Moss and Rock were quickly retired. However, sophomore pinch hitter Logan Britt kept the team alive by drawing a walk on a full count offering from freshman pitcher Matthew Becker. Minnich, already with two RBIs on the day, then blasted a 1-0 pitch into straightaway center field to seal the Aggies’ 13-12 victory in a game for the ages. 

“I hit it and I knew I got it,” Minnich said. “I just looked at the center fielder to see what he was doing, and when he started jogging back, I knew that it had gotten in that Olsen Field wind, so it felt good. It’s great to be a part of that win. This team is so resilient. We have a ‘next man up’ mentality, and I just think that it is so fun to play with these guys.”

The Aggies will look to complete the series sweep tomorrow when they take on the Gamecocks at Olsen Field at 1 p.m.

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