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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 weathers the storm, takes down Ole Miss 8-6

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior 3B Trevor Werner (28) dives for a ground ball during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at Olsen Field on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

As the Texas A&M baseball team trailed Ole Miss 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh inning of its contest against Ole Miss on Friday, March 31, the Olsen Field field staff rushed onto the diamond with tarp in hand as it was announced that the game would be entering a lightning delay. The Aggies retreated to the locker room, nine outs away from a potential sixth SEC loss and fifth consecutive loss overall.
How did they pass the hour and 27 minutes? Watch film, analyze matchups, take swings in the batting cages or lift weights?
More like table tennis, ping pong baseball and a competitive game of mafia.
“Don’t let anybody tell you different, I am the best mafia player in the country, by far better than anybody in this locker room” junior LHP Will Johnston said. “I was a dirty cop the last game and I was tearing it up. I think it really just kept everybody loose, everybody was kind of doing their thing. There was no ‘Oh my God, we’re down’ … It was a good, loose vibe, and I think that’s kind of what we needed.”
The games didn’t stop there.
“We were sitting in there, me, [senior 2B Austin] Bost, [junior SS Hunter] Haas were playing some ping pong,” senior RF Brett Minnich said. “We were just staying loose, and this is what it’s all about, just having fun.”
It seemed to do its trick, as the maroon and white had a power surge after the lightning delay, grabbing a 7-4 lead with a grand slam off the bat of freshman LF Jace LaViolette. Senior CF Jordan Thompson led off the frame with a bunt single before advancing to second on a throwing error. Two batters later, Haas tapped a light grounder to senior RHP Mitch Murrell, who overthrew first base to put two runners in scoring position with one out.
Ole Miss opted to intentionally walk junior 1B and .347 hitter Jack Moss and load the bases, but LaViolette made them pay with a 369-foot blast over the right field wall as he jubilantly trotted the bases, his team up 7-4.
“I was just trying to hustle for a double or something, I had no clue that was gonna leave, and that was awesome that it did,” the Katy native said. “I was just hunting fastballs, got one and put a good swing on it.”
The Aggies wouldn’t relinquish the lead, taking Game 1 of the series versus the Rebels 8-6. The triumph improves A&M to 2-5 in conference action, while Ole Miss falls to 0-7, a year removed from its national title.
The Aggies received a solid start from junior RHP Nathan Dettmer, giving up four runs in five frames off eight hits and two walks along with four strikeouts. The outing comes after a poor start to SEC play in which he surrendered 13 runs in 11 innings. Junior LHP Evan Aschenbeck earned the win after two scoreless frames, allowing just one hit and three strikeouts.
Junior RHP Jack Dougherty supplied a productive performance of his own with three runs in six innings off seven hits, a walk and three punchouts, but was pulled after the delay. Murrell was credited with the loss.
Dettmer got off to a rocky start in the first, giving up three straight hits that culminated in two runs. Senior CF Ethan Groff led off with a single to right field before being picked off, but junior C Calvin Harris, as if to say “This Is What You Came For,” laced an opposite field double to raise his .379 batting average. One batter later, junior SS Jacob Gonzalez belted a home run to Section 12 in right-center to put the Rebels up 2-0 early.
Friday’s matchup marked the sixth of the Aggies’ last eight games in which they gave up a run in the opening frame. At the plate, A&M had scored in the first inning of its past four contests.
An inning later, Minnich cut the Rebels’ lead in half while picking up his first hit of the year, a 450-foot blast over Section 12 in just his third game of the season. His offense was contagious, as struggling junior DH Ryan Targac and senior CF Jordan Thompson laced a double and single, respectively, the latter of which plated the tying run. Targac entered the contest hitting .174, while Thompson carried a .218 average. The former finished 2-for-4, while Thompson went 2-for-3 in a confidence-building outing for the pair.
Ole Miss picked up an early lead in the fourth off a solo shot off the scoreboard by senior 1B Anthony Calarco, but junior 3B Trevor Werner returned the favor in the bottom of the frame with a home run of his own, this one flying 437 feet off the batter’s eye to tie things at 4 apiece. Werner came in with a .200 mark.
“We’ve been going back and forth in the office about who can play what,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “There’s a lot of guys that have roles on our team, but those veteran players, guys like [Thompson] and [Targac] and Brett and Trevor, we already know Hunter and Moss are off to good starts, and hopefully Bost does well — I think this is one of those we can get confidence from, but it’s one game, you know, it’s certainly better than the alternative, but we’ve got to get back out there tomorrow.”
The Rebels opened the top of the sixth with a walk and single before senior 2B and Cypress native Peyton Chatagnier doubled down the right field line, tacking on a run for a 4-3 edge and ending Dettmer’s night. Schlossnagle brought in the reliable Aschenbeck, who showed incredible poise with three straight strikeouts to strand two runners in scoring position and avoid any further damage.
“I actually thought Dettmer did fine, but Aschenbeck, second, third, nobody out, pitched out of it … it was a huge part of the game,” Schlossnagle said.
After A&M’s big bottom of the seventh, Minnich added insurance in the eighth inning with its eighth run of the ballgame, this one on Minnich’s second longball of the night, this one traveling 442 feet to near the same spot as his first dinger. Up 8-4, the blast capped a 3-for-4 performance. Did I mention it was just his second game back from a fractured hand?
“Minnich just had an awesome night,” Schlossnagle said. “I’ve never seen him hit a ball as far as he hit the second one. That was great to see.”
Ole Miss tacked on two more runs in the ninth with a two-out, two-run homer from junior LF Kemp Alderman, but it was too little, too late. Workhorse junior LHP Will Johnston picked up the save in two innings of work, allowing two runs, two hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Hunting for their first series win in SEC action, the Aggies return to the diamond at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, against the Rebels at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

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