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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies win rematch against Cal, winner takes all Monday night

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Photo by Timothy Lai

Nick Choruby ties up the score against Cal and receives a celebration during the NCAA Regionals game on Sunday, May 31st. 

Coming into Sunday, A&M had to win not one, but two games to keep their season alive. The team came through in the biggest of ways, notching a 4-3 drama-filled, extra inning win over California on Sunday night to force a deciding, winner-take-all regional final on Monday evening. The two went to extra innings for the second time within the last 24 hours.

“Just another heavy weight fight,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “If you’re a fan of baseball, just like I said last night, you could not have asked for anything more tonight from both teams…just proud of our guys for not quitting and continuing to come at them.”

Tyler Stubblefield gained the start, his first one of the season due to tearing his ACL before the season began. It was rocky early, but he would settle in for a solid performance on the mound, pitching five innings, scattering four hits and allowing one earned run.

California took advantage of Stubblefield out of the gate. They tested his surgically repaired knee with a leadoff bunt, hit most of his early pitches fairly hard, and eventually gained a 1-0 lead off a sacrifice fly.

Ryne Birk would respond with his own thoughts on the lead. He would crack a solo moon-shot over the right center field wall, and the Aggies and Golden Bears were tied 1-1 after four innings.

Three innings went by with no score, and it was déjà vu for many in the stands. However, no one could have anticipated how the game would end.

In the seventh inning, A&M would break the deadlock with a Michael Barash single, and the Aggies led 2-1 at the stretch.

California responded immediately, as the Saturday night hero Mitchell Kranson smashed a leadoff solo home run to tie the game 2-2. The Golden Bears would load the bases, but clutch pitching by the bullpen, and a massive strike out by Mark Ecker relieved the Aggies of any further damage.

“It was unbelievable,” said Ecker. “The whole team got me hyped up. Coach just told me to bring the heat. It was nice to just get out there and have a good outing.”

The lead would be regained by California in the eighth inning on one of the wildest plays of the year. Logan Taylor looked to be fielding a routine pop fly, but lost the ball in the lights, allowing a triple. The runner on third would score on a sacrifice fly to give Cal a 3-2 lead.

A&M came up for their last chance in the ninth inning. After a Logan Nottebrok single, A&M would pinch run speedster Nick Choruby and pinch hit Ronnie Gideon for Michael Barash. Gideon did not disappoint, as he enraptured the Olsen Field crowd with an RBI double to score Choruby from first and tie the game 3-3. The game headed to extra innings for the second night in a row.

“They asked me to go. They called my name and I was ready to go,” said Gideon. “He threw it right where I was looking. I was going to put a good swing on it no matter what and I got a big hit out of it.”

After a few back and forth innings, the Aggies’ biggest hit and defensive play came in a wild 12th inning.

The biggest hit of the game came off the bat of all-American Nick Banks, who was 0-for-9 against Cal pitchers before the at-bat. With two on base, Banks ripped a single up the middle to score one, however the third out was made at third base while the runner was touching the plate. After some debate, the run would count and A&M carried a 4-3 lead to the bottom of the 12th inning.

“Baseball will humble you like it did last night,” said Banks. “I was just trying to take what I learned last night and bring it into tonight…I was just craving for the opportunity again.”

In their last chance at the plate, Cal had their opportunity to tie the game. After a single, the Cal runner rounded third base to head for home. The Aggies had the play sniffed out, and caught him in a run down with no one covering home plate. Playing hero for the final time of the evening, Ronnie Gideon made a diving tag on the runner as he was feet away from touching home to seal the Aggie win.
The win sets up a winner-take-all bout between the two heavy weights. Game time is set for 6:35 pm. Winner moves on to the Super Regional, and the loser goes home.

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  • Grayson Long bounces around after A&M’s win over Cal during the NCAA Regionals on Sunday, May 31st. 

    Photo by Timothy Lai

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