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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 outslugs Auburn 12-8 to capture series win

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Photo by CJ Smith
Junior RHP Brad Rudis (32) points to his catcher during A&M’s game against Auburn on Friday, March 29, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Junior RHP Brad Rudis seemed to be doing his best impression of senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck when he entered No. 4 Texas A&M baseball’s matchup with Auburn on Friday.

In his second year on the team, Aschenbeck has built his reputation on inheriting difficult in-game situations and finding a way out of them with minimal damage. In the first game of the series, Aschenbeck earned the victory with four innings of work after entering with the bases loaded and the Tigers within two runs.

March 29’s contest allowed Rudis to gain some empathy for his veteran reliever. The Madisonville native took over in the sixth inning after a trio of runs brought Auburn within 5-4. Sophomore CF Chris Stanfield’s single put a pair of runners on with no outs and chased freshman RHP Weston Moss from the game.

It proved no problem for Rudis, who proceeded to strike out the next three batters to get out of the jam. With five runs in the bottom of the frame, the Aggies turned a nervous lead into a comfortable cushion that culminated in a 12-8 victory and series win for the Maroon and White at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

“Unbelievable,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “He got the lefties out, that was the key. We gave him the lineup card for that because he held them down in that inning. The entire game could have changed in the complete other direction.”

Rudis carried his success into the seventh, where he struck out the first two batters. His night came to a close after just 1.2 innings, but they proved to be impactful with five punchouts and a hit and a walk. Rudis, with no runs allowed, kept his ERA at 0.00 through 14.1 frames this season.

While the Tigers struck the Aggies’ pitching staff for 12 hits, A&M put forth a power surge of its own, featuring 16 hits and five home runs. Sophomore CF Jace LaViolette’s two-run shot in the first inning evened him junior RF Braden Montgomery on the team’s home run leaderboard, although Montgomery ensured the tie would be short-lived with two long balls of his own later in the game.

“Obviously, I’m always going to have the playful noise back and forth with Jace, but we’ll see if he can answer back to that,” Montgomery said. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be getting as many fastballs as I would have liked, so I had to deal with what I got and see some over the plate.”

The Aggies’ five runs over the first five frames created a sizable buffer for junior RHP Tanner Jones to work with, as his five innings pitched marked a season high. The Jacksonville State transfer came home with the win, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks with five punchouts.

Jones’ outing was marked by efficiency as his only initial blemish came in the form of redshirt junior 1B Cooper McMurray’s solo homer, but A&M responded by scoring in the game’s final five innings.

“That was about as good as he’s pitched,” Schlossnagle said. “He had all three pitches for the most part [and] that’s the deepest he’s pitched. He missed most of the preseason, so he’s behind everybody else in terms of appearances and innings pitched. He did well against a good lineup and a tough night to pitch.”

LaViolette set the tone on a home run-heavy evening in the opening inning. He made junior RHP Chase Allsup pay for a leadoff four-pitch walk by sending an 0-2 offering off the scoreboard, putting the Aggies on the board both literally and figuratively, 2-0.

Junior SS Ali Camarillo’s RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth and the first of Montgomery’s home runs, a two-run blast in the fifth, created a 5-1 separation between the teams entering the sixth. However, the Tigers put their first five hitters of the inning on base, featuring a sophomore C Ike Irish RBI double and a McMurray RBI single coupled with A&M senior 2B Ryan Targac’s run-scoring throwing error.

Despite the pressure, Rudis dealt to keep A&M in front for a five-run answer in the home half. Freshman LF Caden Sorrell got the rally started with a three-run blast, his third homer of the season, before RBI singles off the bats of freshman 1B Gavin Grahovac and senior 1B Ted Burton. Auburn repaid A&M’s generosity with two unearned runs thanks to a leadoff error.

Making just his seventh start of the year, Sorrell has begun to develop a role in left field with the move of graduate Hayden Schott to designated hitter. Sorrell’s defense made him the frontrunner for the role, but his ability at the plate has justified a consistent spot in the starting lineup.

“It’s been an amazing feeling,” Sorrell said. “I started off not playing too much, but kind of just making the most of every opportunity I’ve been given. Staying true to my routine, that’s been the biggest part for me.”

Insurance for the Aggies came in Camarillo’s second long ball of the season and the 15th for Montgomery. Irish’s grand slam in the ninth with one out made things mildly interesting, but senior RHP Brock Peery shut the door in his team-high 11th appearance of the year.

“It helps everybody to remain loose and to know that we’ve got a plan that we know works when we execute it,” Montgomery said. “We just try to do that everytime, every pitch … We go up there and we just trust ourselves and we swing at strikes and take balls and so I think we did a really good job of executing that plan tonight.”

The Aggies will gun for the sweep over the Tigers on Saturday, March 30 at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. Sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin will deliver the 7 p.m. first pitch with a 2-0 record and a 1.48 ERA.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior 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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