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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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A&M comes from behind to down Stanford 8-5, reach regional championship

A Nguyen

Junior Batter Hunter Haas (2) swing his bat ti hit the baseball at Olsen Field on Friday, March 17, 2023.

Much like it had the night before versus Cal State Fullerton, the Texas A&M baseball team followed a “bend, don’t break” mentality after falling behind 4-1 against Stanford early on in an NCAA Tournament game in Palo Alto, California on Saturday, June 3.
The No. 2 seed Aggies trailed the Titans 3-0 after an inning and a half on Friday night but put on a powerful offensive display to capture a 12-7 win. The next day, A&M shook off the early deficit by stepping up at the plate while the pitching staff kept host Stanford in check for an 8-5 victory. After taking a three-run advantage after three innings, the Cardinal were outscored 7-1 in the next six frames.
That’s not to say Stanford didn’t have its chances, though. The Cardinal fought down to its final out, with junior LF Alberto Rios working a walk on a 12-pitch at-bat before freshman C Malcolm Moore was hit by a pitch in the ninth. Junior 2B Drew Bowser then grounded a seeing-eye single to left field that plated Rios, bringing Stanford within 8-5.
Sophomore LHP Troy Wansing, a traditional starter making his fourth appearance in the Aggies’ bullpen, relieved senior LHP Matt Dillard but hit sophomore DH Temo Becerra with his first pitch to load the bases. Senior SS Owen Cobb stepped to the plate as the winning run, but flew out to shallow right field to end the game as the A&M faithful let out a sigh of relief.
Runners left on base especially contributed to the Cardinal’s downfall, as the team stranded two or more runners on base in the second, fourth, fifth and ninth innings. Just the first and eighth frames ended with the bases empty for Stanford.
Freshman LHP Justin Lamkin earned the starting nod for the Aggies after a terrific outing versus South Carolina in the SEC Tournament in which he held the Gamecocks scoreless over seven innings and allowed just one hit. However, he failed to replicate what made him so successful in Hoover, Alabama, lasting just 1.2 innings on Saturday while surrendering three runs on two hits and four walks.
Thankfully for him, A&M’s bullpen stopped the bleeding as junior LHPs Evan Aschenbeck and Brandyn Garcia held Stanford to just an unearned run over the next 5.1 frames with five punchouts. The Aggies’ pitching walked nine and hit two batters, but managed to keep the Cardinal in check.
It was A&M that took an early lead, as junior SS Hunter Haas drew a leadoff walk before junior 1B Jack Moss singled to begin the game. The Arizona State transfers entered with playing experience against Stanford from their 2021 freshman season, with Haas going 6-for-14 and Moss batting 8-for-14 in the Sun Devils’ series against the Cardinal in Phoenix.
Two batters later, freshman RF Jace LaViolette walked to load the bases. Senior CF Jordan Thompson then grounded out to third base, allowing Haas to cross home plate. Junior LF Ryan Targac walked to load the bags again, but senior 2B Austin Bost struck out to end an inning that may have left the Aggies dissatisfied.
Entering the series, coach Jim Schlossnagle said Stanford had much in common with A&M’s SEC foes in terms of their powerful offense and effective pitching. The Cardinal made that clear in the bottom of the first, as junior 1B Carter Graham walked before sophomore RF Braden Montgomery blasted Lamkin’s 1-0 offering over the center field wall for a blast that put Stanford ahead 2-1. It was the Mississippi native’s 16th home run of the season.
The Cardinal built on its lead in the second as two walks put a pair of runners on. Junior CF Eddie Park brought home the first, poking a single over the pitcher’s mound with two outs. Lamkin’s outing ended after walking the next batter to load the bases, but Aschenbeck induced a fielder’s choice to limit the damage.
After junior RHP Joey Dixon worked a 1-2-3 top of the third, Stanford showed off its power in the bottom of the frame. Rios singled before advancing to second on junior 3B Trevor Werner’s errant throw into Sunken Diamond’s large foul territory, and Moore doubled to the right field wall to put the Cardinal on top 4-1.
Stanford’s potent bats that have been adept at collecting extra-base hits this season marked a contrast from those that A&M faced against Cal State Fullerton. Rather, the Titans’ offensive strategy centered around capitalizing on bunts, sacrifice flies and other elements of “small ball.”
The Aggies began their comeback in the fourth by showing off their big bats. Bost doubled before senior DH Brett Minnich followed him with a double off the left-center field wall to bring A&M within 4-2.
“We don’t have too many team meetings, but [I] just told them ‘Hey man, we’re lucky to be within a couple runs,’” Schlossnagle said. “‘They won the first half of the game, we’ve got to find a way to win the second half of the game.’”
The maroon and white took advantage of Dixon’s miscues in the sixth, as Minnich and freshman C Max Kaufer walked with two outs. Haas continued his success against the Cardinal, doubling to the left-center field gap to plate the two runners and knot the score at 4 apiece. That chased Dixon from the game after giving up four runs on five hits and four walks in 5.2 innings.
But he wasn’t done yet. After Targac’s single to lead off the eighth, Bost was hit on the foot by junior LHP Drew Dowd’s pitch and Minnich singled to make the bases juiced with no outs. Haas continued his big night, ripping a double down the left field line that cleared the bases and gave A&M its first lead since the opening frame at 7-4.
The Aggies picked up a crucial insurance run in the top of the ninth, with LaViolette walking before Thompson’s single put the runners on third and first. Two batters later, Bost’s flyout to right field allowed LaViolette to cross home for a score that proved significant given the Cardinal’s ninth inning rally.
Garcia was credited with the win and Wansing earned a save while Dowd was saddled with the loss, just his third of the season to go alongside nine victories. Under Schlossnagle, the Aggies are now 7-0 in the Regional and Super Regional rounds after sweeping both series in College Station last season en route to the College World Series.
With the triumph, A&M will play for a regional title on Sunday, June 4, against the winner of the 2 p.m. elimination game between Stanford and Cal State Fullerton. The Aggies’ first pitch is set for 8 p.m. with a starter yet to be announced.
“That was a heavyweight title fight,” Schlossnagle said. “We just need to get some rest and be ready to go tomorrow.”

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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