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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 falls to Auburn after dramatic 9th inning

Photo by Cameron Johnson

Sophomore first baseman Jack Moss (9) rounds third base at Olsen Field in Blue Bell Park on Friday, March 25, 2022.

Blue Bell Park hosted its second highest attendance in history Friday, March 25 as 7,492 fans packed Olsen Field for an exciting night of baseball, as Texas A&M opened home SEC play against Auburn. Late game struggles on the mound ended up costing the Aggies, and the Tigers climbed back to win by a score of 6-5 in extra innings.
The maroon and white struck first blood in the second inning, as graduate catcher Troy Clauch hit a sacrifice fly to center field, driving in the first run. After a strong first two innings where he recorded three strikeouts, A&M sophomore right-handed pitcher Nathan Dettmer allowed three runs in the third, giving the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
A scary play unfolded in the bottom of the fourth, as A&M junior outfielder Brett Minnich hit a hard liner up the middle which hit Auburn left-handed pitcher Hayden Mullins in the side of the head. Mullins hit the ground hard as umpires and training staff came in to help, causing a hush to fall over Olsen. Thankfully, Mullins was able to get up on his own and received a standing ovation from Aggie fans. Mullins ended the day with three strikeouts and only one run allowed, as senior left-handed pitcher Carson Skipper came in to take over for the Tigers on the mound.
Bubbles were flying heading into the back half of the game, as the Aggies began to hit their stride offensively. Two runs were scored in the fifth inning followed by a two-run homer from graduate outfielder Dylan Rock in the sixth, giving A&M a 5-3 lead.
Rock has been on a roll recently with strong performances in the series against Rice and LSU earlier this month.
“Starting off the season was just a little rough,” Rock said. “Just getting back to what I do, being relaxed at the plate, seeing the ball and getting my barrel there.”
Heading into the ninth, freshman righty Chris Cortez came in, hoping to close things out for the Aggies. With two runners on base and two outs, Cortez was able to bring Auburn graduate right-handed pitcher Brooks Carlson to a 2-0 count. One pitch away from sealing the game, Carlson hit a laser down the right-field line, bringing two runners home and tying things at five apiece.
Following the double by Carlson, some controversy struck. Junior infielder Mason Land came to the plate for the Tigers and promptly hit a single before play was abruptly stopped. Land’s bat went on to have a lengthy inspection, and the umpires conversed with the SEC office in Birmingham, Ala. After roughly 10 minutes of deliberation, Land was called out, bringing the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Reported by Travis L. Brown of The Eagle, Claunch noticed that Land’s bat didn’t have the sticker used to indicate that officials had inspected it before the series. The bat was then deemed illegal and Land was ruled out.
The Aggies were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, leading to extra innings. A&M junior lefty Joseph Menefee took over on the mound for the Aggies, and despite striking out two runners, he allowed one to score, giving Auburn a 6-5 lead.
The Tigers brought in junior right-handed pitcher Blake Burkhalter who was able to deliver three-consecutive strikeouts, handing A&M its second conference loss of the year.
Despite struggles on the mound in the ninth, A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle was quick to defend his freshman pitcher.
“Cortez is on our team for a reason,” Schlossnagle said. “He did a great job last week closing out a game against LSU in the same situation, so you have to give Auburn credit for staying on and hitting the baseball, but we’ll have to get back at them tomorrow. I’m proud of the way the guys competed and I have confidence in our club. I know they’ll respond tomorrow.”
The Aggies look to regroup as they return to Blue Bell park Saturday, March 26 for Game 2 of a three-game series against the Tigers.

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