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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 bats down No. 22 Vanderbilt to take series in blowout win

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Photo by Robert O’Brien

The Aggies enjoy the fireworks after outlasting the Razorbacks 2-1 at Olsen Field on Friday, April 22, 2022.

After Texas A&M split the first two ball games in a ranked road series against No. 22 Vanderbilt, Game 3 from Nashville, Tenn., saw the Aggie bats pave the way to a series-winning victory from the first inning on.

This series marks the end of a run against some of the SEC’s best teams, yet the Aggies still have a few weeks left to go. A&M has gone 11-5 in the last 3 ½ weeks and has jumped up to the third spot in the SEC West, trailing the Razorbacks by just two games for the top spot. 

Coach Jim Schlossnagle said his team’s situational hitting was great and they were able to work deep counts to extend at-bats. 

“We had a lot of big two-out hits,” Schlossnagle said. “[Our] guys were staying on baseballs and using the middle of the field.” 
Graduate catcher Troy Claunch made an early mark on the rubber match with a two-run single in the top of the first off Vanderbilt’s freshman hurler Bryce Cunningham. This was answered a half-inning later with a trio of Commodore runs against freshman A&M pitcher Brad Rudis to take A&M’s first lead of the day. 

It didn’t last very long at all, when sophomore first baseman Jack Moss and junior designated hitter Austin Bost singled in a pair of Aggies in back-to-back at-bats, swinging the lead back to A&M at 4-3. But before the inning was out, the Aggies loaded the bags with two outs for Claunch, who again scored a pair of runs with a base hit that stretched the lead to three. 

He ended up going 4-for-5 at the plate in Game 3 and is up and over the .300 mark for batting average at .302 on the year. 

After a pitching change, the maroon and white added on another RBI single from sophomore second baseman Ryan Targac, which meant A&M had batted around the order in the inning, and also firmly put A&M in front by four with Schlossnagle going to his bullpen in junior southpaw Joseph Menefee.

Scoring stalled for a few innings until the top of the fifth, when Targac returned with an absolute blast over and past the right-center field stands at an estimated 489 feet. Claunch also came around on the two-run shot, Targac’s ninth round-tripper of the season, as the scoreboard read 9-3 Aggies.

Amid the offensive production, Menefee came on in the second inning and was just what the Aggies needed on the mound. He operated 4.1 scoreless innings before the Commodores were able to figure him out for their fourth run in the sixth inning on a fielder’s choice that turned into an error. 

Menefee ended up throwing 5.1 innings and allowed one run on only two hits with nine strikeouts before lefty sophomore Will Johnston relieved him in the bottom of the seventh.

“[It’s] just trying to get the team back in [the dugout] as quick as I can to keep the momentum on our side,” Menefee said. “It’s huge to win [a series] on the road.”

Before the day was done, Targac launched a three-run homer that came in at 453 feet for his 10th blast of 2022, and his second of the game which put him at six RBIs on the day. It also made him responsible for half of the dozen A&M runs scored in the afternoon matchup.

“I kind of changed my approach today and just trusted it, and it showed,” Targac said.

The 12-4 win over the Commodores was the 13th win out of 22 all-time matchups, and A&M is 6-2 in their last eight games against Vanderbilt dating back to 2017. The Aggies now stand at 27-15 this season overall and 12-9 in SEC play. 

The Aggies are back at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, May 3 against UT-Arlington at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+, beginning a long two-week homestand as the regular season nears its end. A&M will look to continue its recent success against some of the top teams in the country and the SEC by translating that into wins over schools  it should be able to beat.

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