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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 finishes undefeated in nonconference play with 16-3 win over Rice

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Texas A&M infielder Kaeden Kent (3) hits the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Rice at Olsen Field on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

For the first time since 2015, Texas A&M baseball finished its nonconference slate undefeated with a 16-3, run-rule win over Rice on Tuesday, May 7 at Olsen Field.

“We didn’t play the greatest schedule, but we won the games,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “We’ve played below average teams and lost in the past. It’s hard to win all these games. The game isn’t built for that … it says a lot about the maturity of our team, and they’re good.”

In what has become a familiar pattern this season — A&M ranks fourth in the country in home runs — the Aggies pulled away with their offense blasting four dingers in an 11-hit, 16-run showing.

Headlining the onslaught was sophomore CF Jace LaViolette, whose fourth inning two-run homer moved him into third place on the all-time A&M career home run list.

“It’s a good thing he’s coming back next year,” Schlossnagle said. “… Jace is a great player. We knew that when he came here. He’s been getting better every day.”

Freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac set the tone early with a leadoff solo home run sent 433 feet into center field — and he wasn’t the only one to make their presence felt early.

Just a few minutes later, junior RF Braden Montgomery sent a solo shot of his own over the left-field wall and straight into the middle of the scrum of fans congregating in Aggie Alley to put A&M up 2-0 in the second inning.

“It’s awesome,” Grahovac said. “The earlier you can get ahead, the more runs we can probably produce as the game goes on. As long as we can continue to do that the next few weekends, we could be in a really good spot.”

A tale of two defenses

Only half of the Aggies’ runs came off of the bat — eight runs came as a result of two separate series of Rice defensive blunders.

The first began in the second inning, with A&M already up 2-0: With freshman LF Caden Sorrell on base after a single and senior 2B Travis Chestnut joining him after a HBP, Rice RHP Mauricio Rodriguez threw a wild pitch that scored both Sorrell and Chestnut as the Owls struggled to wrangle the loose ball.

Later that same inning, sophomore 1B Kaeden Kent managed to find his way home off of another wild pitch.

In the sixth inning eight Aggies managed to reach base, all of them off of either walks or HBP. A&M’s five-run inning came off of five-straight bases-loaded walks — a sight that prompted the A&M students in Section 203 to begin a The Cranberries’ “Zombie”-inspired chorus of “We’re in your head, 203.”

For its part, A&M’s defense didn’t let the big lead get to it — especially Sorrell, whose diving catch with the bases loaded in the sixth inning saved several Rice runs and effectively stalled a potential comeback.

“What an awesome play,” Schlossnagle said. “That was a three-run play. It could have completely changed the course of the game. Sorrell has been awesome in every way.”

With nonconference play finished, A&M sets its sights on its next conference foe with a trip to Oxford, Mississippi to face Ole Miss this weekend.

“Still got to go on the road in the SEC,” Schlossnagle said. “[Ole Miss] is full of awesome SEC players, and they have really good pitching … We’ve proven that we can win anywhere and lose anywhere. LSU wasn’t playing that great, we went in, and they got it going. We have to go play good baseball and try to find a way to win a series.”

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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