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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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The Battalion May 4, 2024

A&M baseball lays claim to its first SEC West title

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior OF Brett Minnich (23) walks back to the dugout after scoring a run during the Aggies’ game against Mississippi State at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Heading into Saturday afternoon on May 21, No. 11 Texas A&M baseball walked onto Swayze Field in Oxford, Miss., with one goal in mind. It’s the same goal they have every week, every series and every game, but the stakes were higher this time.

The Aggies had the SEC West title on the line, something they had never won since joining the SEC in 2013. To do so, one of two things had to go A&M’s way: With the tie-breaker in their favor, either A&M had to beat Ole Miss in Game 3 or Arkansas had to lose to Alabama in Game 3.

And the tides were in A&M’s favor, as the Aggies bested the Rebels 12-5 and Alabama took down Arkansas 18-5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

With the win, the Aggies head into the SEC Tournament with not just momentum — 19 wins in the team’s last 25 games — but with the No. 2 seed, behind only Tennessee, the No. 1 team in the nation.

After expectations were low following a 29-27 season by A&M in 2020-21, the 2021-22 Aggies have turned heads with their 35-17 record, their 11 ranked wins, their near top-10 ranking and their first-ever SEC West title. All this came in the first season under the new tutelage of head coach Jim Schlossnagle.

Heading into the tournament in Hoover, Ala., the Aggies will want to see their batters stay hot, having scored six-plus runs in the team’s last six games. Against Ole Miss, the Aggies scored 28 runs in three games.

In Game 3, the Aggies hit four homers against the Rebels en route to their 12-run performance. Among the hard-hitters on Saturday were graduate left fielder Dylan Rock, sophomore second baseman Ryan Targac and juniors right fielder Brett Minnich — who hit a grand slam at the top of the fourth inning — and centerfielder Jordan Thompson.

Even further, eight of A&M’s nine batters earned at least one run, the only exception being sophomore first baseman Jack Moss, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a walk.
After A&M’s Game 3 win over Mississippi State on Sunday, May 15, Targac said, in the postseason, that “it is not the best team [who wins;] it is the team that plays the best. It does not matter what you do preseason or the middle of the season, it matters what you do now and here on out. It is about getting hot at the right time, and I think we are in a good spot.”

The pitching needs to continue to be an emphasis for the Aggies as they advance in the postseason. The Aggies fell to an early 5-2 deficit midway through the third inning after freshman lefty Ryan Prager, who started the game on the mound for the maroon and white, gave up two runs in 2.1 innings of play.

Prager was pulled in favor of junior lefty Joseph Menefee, inheriting two runners on base. After picking up a strikeout, Ole Miss junior second baseman Peyton Chatagnier hit a three-run homer, advancing the score to 5-2 in favor of the home team. However, after being credited with one earned run, Menefee locked in and struck out the following batter to close out the inning. He racked up six total strikeouts and gave up just the one run in his 4.0 innings of play, ultimately being credited with the win.

The Aggies, looking to stay hot, look ahead to their postseason with the regular season closing on the team. They travel to Hoover where, on Tuesday, May 24, they will play in the first round of the SEC Tournament with their highest seed since joining the conference. With all the momentum on their side, the Aggies will have the opportunity to earn their first SEC Tournament title since 2016.

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