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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M upsets No. 13 LSU in first SEC game under Schlossnagle

Freshman+pitcher+Chris+Cortez+%2810%29+throws+from+the+mound+in+Blue+Bell+Park+on+Tuesday%2C+Mar.+1%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman pitcher Chris Cortez (10) throws from the mound in Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022.

The start of SEC baseball has arrived for Texas A&M after a somewhat rocky start for first-year coach Jim Schlossnagle. Through the first 16 games, there were flashes of the Aggies doing well with their transfer experience and talent. But the weaknesses, such as hitting with runners in scoring position and relief pitching, have also been on glaring display.
In Game 1 of a three-game series against No. 13 LSU, which A&M is now 13-14 against all-time, the maroon and white overcame those weaknesses with some clutch late-inning pitching and hitting to win the series opener.
“I’ve challenged this team in the last couple of weeks about their competitive grit,” Schlossnagle said. “There were times when I wasn’t so sure we had enough of it. Certainly tonight we had a lot of it, and hopefully we can build on it.”
LSU grabbed a 1-0 lead, but it didn’t last long with graduate outfielder Dylan Rock’s opposite-field, line-drive solo home run, his second blast as an Aggie. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Targac followed that later in the second inning with a no-doubt moonshot all the way out of Alex Box Stadium to give A&M a one-run lead. He nearly hit an identical home run earlier in the at-bat, but it just went foul.
Rock said his first SEC experience was a big moment for him, and that on his home run he got a great pitch to hit into the wind carrying out toward right field.
“It was pretty awesome — it was electric and a dogfight all the way through,” Rock said. “I was just looking for something that I could barrel up and drive. They left it a little away [and] the wind was blowing that way, so I used that to my advantage.”
Meanwhile, sophomore starting pitcher Nathan Dettmer worked a couple of consecutive scoreless innings. LSU responded with solo shots in the fourth and fifth innings off Dettmer to take back the lead at 3-2. After hitting a Tiger, Dettmer was pulled as Schlossnagle brought in 6-foot-4 sophomore southpaw Jacob Palisch, who kept the deficit at one.
Then came a big seventh inning. Targac was hit by a pitch to start and made his way to second. After the Tigers went to their bullpen again, graduate infielder Kole Kaler singled past the shortstop and a throwing error allowed him to reach second while Targac, the tying run, hustled home to beat the throw. Kaler swiped third, and junior second baseman Austin Bost singled into right field to bring home the go-ahead run, making it a 4-3 game.
Palisch was on point in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, having allowed only one man to reach base in 2.1 innings while striking out a trio of Tigers. LSU seemed to have no answer for the tall lefty as he made his way back out for the bottom of the eighth.
The Tigers’ leadoff man singled, though, which prompted a pitching change for sophomore Will Johnston. He walked the first man he faced and then hit the next batter, loading the bases with no outs for LSU. A groundout got the tying run home, which brought in freshman righty Chris Cortez with the score tied at 4-4.
Cortez nearly got a double play right away, but the call was overturned after a review. With runners on the corners and two outs, Cortez fielded an easy ground ball back to himself to keep the damage under control and get out of the jam.
Kaler doubled to start the top of the ninth, representing the go-ahead run with the heart of A&M’s batting order coming up. All it took was for Bost to hit a blooper into shallow center field, scoring Kaler and giving the lead back to the Aggies. Kaler and Bost were integral to the maroon and white’s success by going a combined 4-for-9 with two RBIs, two runs scored, a walk and a steal.
The scoring didn’t stop as A&M kept the inning going by drawing a few walks, loading the bags with two outs for Rock. He hit a ground ball that bounced high enough for him to reach first safely, while also bringing home an insurance run for the bottom of the ninth.
Cortez returned, trying to secure the win and his first collegiate save. Pumping over 95 mph with his fastball, Cortez struck out the first batter, got the second to pop out to left field and punched out the third batter with his changeup for the final out. He also got credit for the win, his third of the year.
“My heart’s racing, [that] was the best thing I’ve ever experienced,” Cortez said. “That’s why I came here, I wanted to play in the SEC to experience things like that.”
Schlossnagle said it was a great feeling to get the first SEC win under his belt.
“It feels really good,” Schlossnagle said. “We’ve played up and down. We got some big hits tonight. Palisch and Cortez were obviously outstanding. I’m happy for these guys, they’ve been through a lot and we’ll be back tomorrow.”
The Aggies look to win the series on Saturday, March 19 at 6 p.m. and avoid a rubber match on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. Game 2 is on SEC Network+ with Game 3 on SEC Network.

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