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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Down but not out

A&M drops first game of SEC tournament as comeback falls short in 5-3 loss to Mississippi State
Photo by Chris Swann
Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)

A warm, summer evening bestowed Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday night when the No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies faced the No. 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second round of the SEC tournament.

During the regular season, the Aggies and the Bulldogs went at it in College Station for a three-game set, where Coach Jim Schlossnagle and his team laid claim to a 2-1 series victory.

But things are different in the SEC tournament, where the NCAA postseason is on the horizon and the pressure to perform is dialed up tenfold.

A&M is the fourth seed in the tournament, receiving a bye alongside Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Mississippi State drew the five seed and knocked off 12 seed Ole Miss in the first round with a walk-off two-run homer.

While it was a bullpen game for Schlossnagle and the Aggies, the Bulldogs sent out starter junior RHP Khal Stephen, who has the sixth-best ERA in the SEC at 3.25. He was also seventh in the conference with a .214 opposing batting average allowed, and he was tied for the ninth-most strikeouts with 93.

Stephen started the game that the Aggies lost to the Bulldogs earlier this year where he pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Though he wasn’t as good this time around, Stephen was still serviceable allowing three runs over 5 innings.

Schlossnagle’s bullpen matched Stephen’s performance, as junior RHP Brad Rudis, freshman LHP Kaiden Wilson and redshirt senior RHP Zane Badmaev combined for 6 innings and allowed three runs.

The Aggies fell behind 1-0 in the top of the second when the Bulldogs scored off a wild pitch. In the next inning, sophomore SS David Mershon smacked a two-run shot in the third that extended their lead to 3-0.

The Maroon and White chipped away at the lead with two runs in the sixth. Graduate DH Hayden Schott tied it up for the Aggies at 3-3 with a two-out RBI double.

It was a battle of the bullpens from that point on, and it was one that the Bulldogs eventually won. In the ninth inning, senior LHP Evan Ashenbeck came on to close for A&M with one out and runners on first and second. 

With two outs and the bases loaded, senior CF Connor Hujsak, who walked it off in round one for Mississippi State, drove a ground ball single up the middle of the diamond to make it 5-3 Bulldogs.

The Aggies went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bulldogs a 5-3 victory.

A&M was not alone in its defeat. With its loss, all four of the top seeds in the tournament lost their first game.

This round featured a double elimination format, so the Aggies are still alive in this tournament. The team will need to bounce back tomorrow when it plays No. 1 Tennessee at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium at 1 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Chris Swann
Chris Swann, Photo Chief
Chris is a Journalism junior from Winnsboro, TX. Chris served as the Social Media Manager and Assistant Photo Chief prior to becoming Photo Chief for The Battalion’s photo desk. Before transferring to A&M in the Fall of 2023, Chris spent two years at Tyler Junior College, where he was Photo and Design editor for their student media, The DrumBeat. He is expected to graduate in May of 2026.
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