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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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A&M gets walked off by Auburn in SEC opener

Sophomore+catcher+and+outfielder+Mayce+Allen+%285%29+walking+off+first+base+in+Davis+Diamond+against+Kansas+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+18%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

Sophomore catcher and outfielder Mayce Allen (5) walking off first base in Davis Diamond against Kansas on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.

The opening of conference competition is always an important day in a college sports team’s calendar. Under Friday night lights in Auburn, Ala., there were instances of the No. 20 Tigers and Texas A&M each displaying their big-game DNA.
Only one team wins, though, and Auburn was ultimately able to get the biggest plays of the night. The Aggies got some great relief pitching and had enough offense to have a chance at winning, but the home team’s late-inning prowess scratched out a 5-4 win in extra innings.
Coach Jo Evans said, despite the tough loss, she liked the competitiveness the team played with and that they put a lot of offensive pressure on good, quality opposing arms.
“Our kids played a really solid game,” Evans said. “We expect to win, and that’s how we play the game. I’m proud of our kids, and when you look at our starting lineup, eight of our nine kids had a hit. And, we put pressure on them.”
Both sides had early offense, starting with Auburn’s first-inning run. But, A&M’s bats got going for three runs in the second inning, starting with sophomore second baseman Rylen Wiggins’ RBI single. She was quickly brought home by Mayce Allen on a two-run blast, her fifth round-tripper of 2022.
The Aggies’ starting pitcher Shaylee Ackerman, a junior, navigated out of a bases-loaded situation without allowing a run. Over the next half-inning, sophomore third baseman Trinity Cannon reached on a fielder’s choice with an error also occurring on the play, which allowed senior first baseman Haley Lee to cross home and take a 4-1 lead over the Tigers.
“I thought we played really well,” Evans said. “If you look at what we did to [sophomore] Auburn starting pitcher [Shelby] Lowe early on, we scored four runs on her.”
Lowe has tossed over 50 innings for the Tigers and sports a 1.33 ERA. The three earned runs she allowed are tied for the most she’s given up in a game this year, and the two innings she pitched are tied for her second-shortest outing in her 14 appearances.
However, the game’s momentum continued to change in the early innings with Auburn blasting a two-run homer of its own to straightaway center to get back within a run. They got runners on first and second to threaten again, but Ackerman got back-to-back punchouts to stay in front.
Then, freshman lefty Emiley Kennedy entered to start the fourth and worked a scoreless inning, stranding the tying run in scoring position. She ran into a jam, though, in the fifth after hitting a Tiger who stole second and got to third base after a wild pitch with only one out. Ultimately, it was for naught with Kennedy getting the second out on a routine groundout and the third with a punchout.
Kennedy returned for the sixth and allowed a Tiger to reach second with an out, but induced a flyout and got a punchout to shut the door. Up over 50 pitches, Kennedy stayed in for the seventh but allowed a leadoff double to start. The runner moved up on a flyout and was able to easily score on an A&M fielding error that occurred on a routine groundball to the right side.
After the Aggies got a runner on to start the eighth inning, Auburn brought in sophomore Maddie Penta, the SEC’s leader in strikeouts with 121, and immediately got a ‘strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out’ double play. Within the span of about five minutes, A&M loaded the bases because of two singles and an Auburn error. Penta got an Aggie flyout, though, to escape without any damage done.
But, on the third pitch of the bottom of the eighth, Auburn got a solo shot to center field off the bat of sophomore infielder Denver Bryant to walk off the game by a final score of 5-4.
A&M has now lost six of its last seven against the Tigers, who are now 22-1 on the year. The maroon and white fall to 15-6.
Games two and three of the series are both set for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively, on Sunday, March 13 and can be streamed on SEC Network+.

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