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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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A&M looks to be thrill of the fight against defending national champions LSU

Photo by Photo by Chris Swann
Texas A&M outfielder Caden Sorrell (13) drops his bat during Texas A&M’s game against Tarleton State on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

For the third straight week in a row, Texas A&M baseball is the No. 1 team in the nation.

A&M will kick off its three-game road series this weekend by traveling down the bayou to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take on LSU May 3-5 at Alex Box Stadium.

The Maroon and White are coming off a 10-6 win against Tarleton State, while the Purple and Gold are fresh from a 26-2 Mercy-Rule win over Grambling State.

Last season, LSU won the NCAA National Championship, defeating Florida 18-4. A&M are aiming to put away LSU’s title hopes, return to Omaha and be the first NCAA Division Ⅰ baseball team to 40 wins.

“They are still full of great young players, great older players,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “They have championship pedigree. There will be a lot on the line, and I’m sure they’ll be ready to play.”

The last time the Aggies made the trip to Alex Box was in March 2022, with A&M taking the series 2-1. Most recently, these two teams faced off in the fourth round of the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament, with the Aggies winning a tight one, 5-4.

LSU went 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position, and the LSU offense outhit A&M 12-7, but the Aggie pitching staff stranded 12 Tigers.

In that game, the Maroon and White rode in the luggage cart after junior SS Hunter Haas hit the go-ahead three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh, helping A&M claim a spot in the SEC semifinals.

This past week, senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck was awarded the Midseason Watch List for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, which recognizes the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division Ⅰ Baseball.

On the mound in the last matchup between A&M and LSU was Aschenbeck, who earned the win, working 3.0 innings, allowing one run off four hits while striking out four. Aschenbeck’s ability to go deep in games as a relief pitcher and keep the pace in A&M’s favor will likely factor into how the Aggies can win in a challenging environment of Cajuns.

On the road, A&M has lost four games carrying a 7-4 record, losing to Florida twice and Alabama and South Carolina once. LSU is 21-8 at home this season, with a pair of SEC losses to Florida and Vanderbilt and one against Auburn.

In what is bound to be a massive series for both teams — determining the standings and seeds at the end of SEC play — LSU must ensure that its star players will show up and give A&M problems early.

There is one thing guaranteed: A&M will not go down without a fight, especially after being down 9-0 in the first inning last weekend against Georgia before scoring 19 unanswered points and winning 19-9.

A&M was also down 4-1 against Tarleton but found a way to add to the win column with the bubbles floating and the Rattlin’ Bog music rolling.

“It seems like we’re always playing from behind in these games, at least for a little bit,” Schlossnagle said.

For A&M to prevent trailing early, it must shut down LSU’s lineup, including juniors Tommy White and Michael Braswell Ⅲ, graduate Hayden Travinski and sophomore Jared Jones.

LSU’s home run leader is Jones, with 19. White leads the team with 62 hits, 43 RBIs and a .333 batting average. Braswell also leads the team with 11 doubles and a .315 batting average, which is second on the team.

With the Tigers being the underdog, it will have to limit the amount of batters at the plate. So far this season, the Aggies are fourth in the nation in both home runs and slugging percentage with 99 home runs and a .594 slugging percentage.

The Maroon and White are also No. 5 in the country in on-base percentage with .438, No. 10 in runs scored with 416, and No. 13 in hits with 474.

“It’s elite college baseball at Texas A&M,” Schlossnagle said.

Both squads have electric offenses disciplined at the plate, so creating momentum by reaching base will determine which team takes the series.

Pitching will also be a key this weekend, as both teams are loaded with talent. LSU’s pitching staff is No. 25 in the nation with a 4.38 ERA. Likewise, A&M is No. 8 in the country with a 3.84 ERA.

This weekend’s projected starters for A&M include redshirt sophomore LHP Ryan Prager, junior RHP Tanner Jones and sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin. LSU is expected to see redshirt sophomore LHP Gage Jump and junior RHP Luke Holman on the mound.

First pitch on Friday, May 3 is set for 7 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium, with the game streaming on SEC Network.

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