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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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Bats cooking, strikeouts looking

Aggies look to build on impressive start against the Seahawks
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Texas A&M baseball is set to host the Wagner Seahawks in a three-game series this weekend at Blue Bell Park.

A&M got off to as good of a start as it could ask for. The No. 8 Aggies swept McNeese State behind explosive offensive performances and fantastic pitching, as A&M outscored the Cowboys 31-1. A&M then beat Incarnate Word, 9-3, in a midweek matchup to improve to 4-0.

Star sophomore OF Jace LaViolette has led the way for the Aggies through the first four games. He earned Preseason All-SEC honors and was named to the 2024 Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List coming into the season and has not disappointed.

In 12 ABs versus the Cowboys, he homered three times, recorded nine RBIs and walked twice. He added two more solo shots in five ABs against Incarnate Word, and heads into the weekend with a .353 batting average and a 1.235 slugging percentage.

Junior OF/RHP Braden Montgomery received the same honors as LaViolette heading into the year and showed out in his first games as an Aggie. The Stanford Cardinal transfer homered in the bottom of the first to score A&M’s first run of the 2024 season.

He ended his weekend with four hits, five RBIs and three walks in 11 ABs. Montgomery then added another homerun in the matchup with the Cardinals. He heads into the weekend series batting .313 with an on-base percentage of .421.

The real highlight of the series versus McNeese State was the Aggies’ pitching performance. For a unit that struggled last year, the performance on the mound was everything A&M fans hoped for to start the year.

Sophomore LHP Ryan Prager started Game 1 for the Aggies after missing last season with Tommy John surgery. In his five innings of work, he struck out nine of the 17 batters he faced while not giving up a walk nor a run, and only surrendered one hit.

He was relieved by freshman RHP Isaac Morton and junior RHP Brad Rudis. Morton also gave up just one hit, but struck out four batters in two innings while Rudis got out all six batters he faced to close the final two frames.

Sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin started Game 2 and went nearly four innings. He faced 17 batters, recorded six strikeouts and surrendered two hits. Senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck gave up the only Cowboys run of the weekend. However, he still struck out four batters and did not walk any of the 11 batters he faced.

Game 3 only went seven innings as the Aggies got their second shutout of the series. Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao got the start and went five innings. He faced 20 batters and gave up just four hits while recording five strikeouts.

On the other side, the Wagner Seahawks come into this series looking for their first win of the year after getting swept by North Carolina to open their season.

Wagner lost its three games with scores of 10-3, 16-5 and 20-6, respectively. Although not a great start to the year for the Seahawks, North Carolina is one of the best teams in the country and was ranked No. 15 to open the season.

Senior OF Lukas Torres leads the way for Wagner. He didn’t appear in any games for Wagner his junior year, but started 40 of 48 games his sophomore year. In the series versus the Tar Heels, Torres had a .308 batting average with a .400 on base percentage. In 13 ABs he only struck out twice while walking twice.

Graduate C David Melfi also had a solid series for the Seahawks. In 11 ABs he had a batting average of .273, along with a .545 slugging percentage. He struck out four times; however, he was one of two Seahawks to record a homerun.

The other Wagner batter to hit a homerun was freshman INF Connor Roche. The Westwood, New Jersey native didn’t play in the last game of the series but recorded two hits in six ABs. He also had team highs with three RBIs and a .833 slugging percentage.

Of course, pitching was the main concern for Wagner last weekend. The pitching staff had an average ERA of 13.88 and allowed the Tar Heels to bat .374 through the series. In the Tar Heels’ 115 ABs, the Seahawks gave up nine unearned runs while only recording 20 strikeouts.

It’s still early in the year, but if Wagner’s struggles on the mound continues, then the Aggies have the offensive firepower to punish the Seahawks.

First pitch of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23. Game 2 is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday, with the series finale scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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About the Contributor
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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