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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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Baseball transfers look Rock solid in exhibition showcase

In+the+first+game+of+fall+exhibition+play%2C+the+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+baseball+team+opened+the+season+against+the+Houston+Cougars+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+8+at+Olsen+Field+in+Blue+Bell+Park.
Photo by Photo by Abbey Santoro

In the first game of fall exhibition play, the Texas A&M baseball team opened the season against the Houston Cougars on Friday, Oct. 8 at Olsen Field in Blue Bell Park.

On the collegiate stage of Olsen Field, first impressions can make or break an Aggie’s career.

In its exhibition match against the Houston Cougars, the Texas A&M baseball program opened with a lineup featuring more returning players than “fresh faces.” But the position of cleanup hitter — almost always occupied by the best batter on the team — was filled by someone new to Aggieland: graduate transfer Dylan Rock. The right fielder dominated the offensive stat sheet in the Oct. 8 showcase, going 4 for 4 at the plate while notching two doubles, two stolen bases, two runs and two RBIs.

Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said it should not have been surprising to the fans to see a “fresh face” in the 4-hole.

“At least, not on a team that didn’t even make the SEC Tournament last year,” Schlossnagle said.

Determined to prove to Schlossnagle and the rest of the coaching staff that he is meant to be a leader on the maroon and white lineup, Rock took it upon himself to carry the team in its narrow 12-11 loss to the Cougars. 

After falling behind by five runs after the top of the second inning, Rock led off the bottom half of the frame with a line drive single to right field. By stealing second base before capitalizing on the subsequent double from sophomore center fielder Logan Britt, Rock found his way back to home plate, breaking A&M’s scoring drought.

When it comes to success on the diamond, Rock is nearing an expert-level of experience. With UTSA — his home for four seasons before transferring to A&M — Rock recorded 657 at-bats. Of those, 210 resulted in hits, 113 of which plated an RBI. Even with a .417 career on-base percentage, he still hadn’t peaked.

Rock spent the second half of his 2021 summer in the Bryan-College Station community as the center fielder and leading-OBP go-to man for the Brazos Valley Bombers, but Friday marked his first time playing in front of the 12th Man. The energy of Blue Bell Park was a contributing factor to Rock finding so much success on the field, he said.

“The atmosphere was crazy,” Rock said. “Having this many fans for just a scrimmage was incredible. It was so much fun.”

A four-run fifth inning brought A&M back into the game. Junior designated hitter Taylor Smith hit a two-run bomb over the outfield scoreboard, opening the floodgates for a string of four consecutive A&M singles. Rock’s RBI single not only brought the Aggies within one run, but also put the tying run on third base — a mere 90 feet from home plate.

Two frames later, Rock continued his streak of dominance. With the score knotted at seven, the right fielder drove a double into the right field gap, bringing home sophomore designated hitter Jack Moss and giving A&M the lead. Using another stolen bag and eventual base hit from the bottom of the lineup, Rock journeyed around the base path and scored his second run of the night.

A&M benched its starters — Rock included — in the eighth inning, opening the door for Houston to nail five runs and secure the win before the 12-inning scrimmage ended. But the damage had already been done by Rock, who contributed to nearly half of the Aggies’ total offense on the night.

Having already seen this skill and raw athleticism from Rock during practice, Schlossnagle said he wasn’t surprised by the right fielder’s performance in the scrimmage. Instead, the head coach is looking forward to what the Sugar Land native will accomplish with the Aggies, he said.

“You can see what guys have been doing this for a while,” Schlossnagle said. “[Rock] is doing everything right. He’s always controlled the strike zone and put good swings on pitches, and he’s obviously big and strong. He’s the kind of guy you can see will always find success.”

A&M baseball will next return to action in its second and final scrimmage of the fall semester, this time against the Lamar Cardinals. With first pitch set for 6:02 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22, Rock has one more opportunity to shine in front of the university and fanbase he has already fallen in love with, he said.

“I love being an Aggie,” Rock said with a grin.
Editor’s note: The game between the Aggies and Cougars was an exhibition match, so no official game notes were kept. Therefore, any scores or statistics mentioned in the above article were kept and calculated by assistant sports editor Ryan Faulkner for publication by The Battalion.

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