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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 enters Mississippi State series with postseason in sight

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Junior INF Trevor Werner (28) after hitting a homer during a game vs. Alabama on Friday, May 12, 2023.

With many postseason implications at play, the Texas A&M baseball team will put on its poker face as it heads to “Starkvegas” for its final series of the regular season.
A&M hits the road to Starkville, Mississippi to take on Mississippi State in its final tune-up before the SEC Tournament and postseason play begins. The Aggies will begin play on Thursday, May 18, with a 6 p.m. first pitch at Dudy Noble Field. At 12-15 in conference play, A&M remains around the bubble for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and looks to make a final push within the next week. currently projects the Aggies to be assigned to the Stillwater, Oklahoma regional as a No. 3 seed with Oklahoma State, Dallas Baptist and Sam Houston State. Still, a string of wins would relieve any remaining anxiety over being left on the outside looking in.
The Aggies and Bulldogs enter the three-game tilt in opposite directions — while A&M dropped its series at home to Alabama last weekend, including two blowout losses, Mississippi State took two of three games from then-No. 1 LSU as the visiting team. Regardless, the Bulldogs carry the second-worst record in the conference at 8-19. In order to earn a spot in the 12-team SEC Tournament, Mississippi State must sweep A&M while having some cards across the conference fall their way as well.
“Mississippi State’s playing with a lot of confidence, playing with a lot of momentum,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “A home crowd, I’m sure they’ll do their senior day and stuff like that, so [we’re] looking forward to a great atmosphere.”
There’s no questioning how significant a series it is for both sides given the postseason consequences it holds. For the Aggies, the key will be to keep things simple and play the same brand of baseball it has all season long.
“We’ve pinned ourselves in a corner where we really need to do well,” Schlossnagle said. “Can’t make anything more about it than what it is, other than just play good baseball. If you want to extend your season beyond a conference tournament, then [we] need to start stacking some wins on top of each other.”
The simplest answer to A&M’s postseason questions is to develop a winning streak and pick up momentum when it’s needed most as the regular season wraps up. Rather than leave their fate up in the air, the Aggies can take matters into their own hands.
“I don’t know what else we can do,” Schlossnagle said. “All we can control is to try to win ballgames. We know how good the league is perceived, but we just need to win as many ballgames as we can, both on the weekend series and in the conference tournament … There’s nothing else we can do because that involves other teams that we don’t coach or play for.”
The A&M offense will aim to reemerge after a pair of no-shows to close out the series versus Alabama. The Crimson Tide run-ruled the Aggies 12-1 in seven innings on May 13 before an 11-0 thrashing on Mother’s Day. A&M collected 13 hits over the pair of games after an 11-5 series-opening win with six home runs.
“I think we just hit a hard reset,” junior INF Ryan Targac said. “We had a couple off-days just to look back on the things that happened this weekend, the good and the bad, just to take away and learn from what we can use for this weekend. That’s how it always is, after a weekend we’ll go and analyze stuff that we did good, we’ll try to continue that stuff and just try to fix some mistakes that may have happened.”
The Aggies have an ample opportunity to rebound, as the Bulldogs’ pitching staff carries the SEC’s worst earned run average at 6.89. Sophomore RHP Colby Holcombe will get the starting nod for Thursday’s opener with a 2-2 record and 7.71 ERA on the season. Starters for the next two games have yet to be announced.
A&M will do the same, with junior RHP Nathan Dettmer the only announced starter for the weekend. The San Antonio native will take the mound on Thursday with a 1-3 mark and 6.32 ERA over 13 starts this year.
“He had a good bullpen this week,” Schlossnagle said. “I think the last two outings, each one’s been better than the one before it, so hopefully that can get us going.”
Dettmer will have his hands full with a Mississippi State lineup hitting .283, 12 points better than A&M’s .271 average. A trio of Bulldogs are batting over .300 with at least 11 home runs, led by explosive sophomore UTL Hunter Hines with 22 long balls and 60 runs batted in. Six regulars in the lineup are hitting higher than .285, compared to just three for the Aggies.
“You’ve got to go on one-game win streaks, that’s what Coach Schloss says to us all the time,” junior LHP Brandyn Garcia said. “You’ve got to forget about yesterday and just focus on today and focus on what’s important now.”

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