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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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Freshmen highlight A&M’s 6-3 win over Seattle

Aggies+celebrate+after+homerun+of+Freshman+OF+Jace+LaViolette+%2817%29+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Seattle+U+at+Olsen+Field+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+18%2C+2023.
Photo by Kalena Agpasan

Aggies celebrate after homerun of Freshman OF Jace LaViolette (17) during Texas A&M’s game against Seattle U at Olsen Field on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.

Saturday’s matchup between the Texas A&M baseball team and Seattle University offered the 12th Man a glimpse into the program’s future, as multiple newcomers took center stage in the Aggies’ 6-3 win over the Redhawks at Olsen Field on Feb. 18.
Freshman left fielder Jace LaViolette led the way for A&M, clobbering a pair of home runs to right-center field to highlight a 2-for-4, 3 RBI performance. The Katy native’s strength had been raved about in high school and during the offseason, and the 12th Man was given its first look at it in a live game.
On the mound, sophomore lefty and Purdue transfer Troy Wansing started for the Aggies, putting in 3.1 innings of work that featured three runs on four hits, three walks, two hit batters and seven strikeouts, as free bases hurt him the most. Last season, Wansing was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team with the Boilermakers after posting a 4-4 record with a 5.44 ERA.
“He made some really good pitches,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I think it was a positive step, simply because he hasn’t pitched in this environment … No disrespect, I mean, pitching here isn’t like pitching in the midwest or on the west coast. That’s not a slant, it’s just fact. You’ve got to remember those guys are new too.”
Although sophomore Brad Rudis was credited with the win, freshman Justin Lamkin turned in the game’s most productive outing on the mound, pitching 3.2 scoreless innings while giving up just two hits, a walk, a hit batter and five punchouts. The righty entered the contest with one out in the fifth and runners on first and second, but recorded a strikeout and groundout to get out of the frame unscathed.
“I knew I had a job to do, and I went in there and just flooded the zone to get outs as quick as possible and let our offense get back up there and keep hitting,” Lamkin said. “[I was] nervous at first, obviously, but kind of settled in. I knew the team had my back, I just had to flood the zone and everything would go our way.”
A&M received further freshman contributions from catcher Max Kaufer and left fielder Kasen Wells, the latter of which entered Friday’s 8-2 win in place of senior left fielder Brett Minnich, who broke his finger while sliding into first base. Kaufer officially finished with no at-bats, but drew three walks, while Wells collected his first college hit in a 1-for-4 showing.
“We talked about how old our team was, but you’re an injury away from losing some of those guys, which we had that yesterday,” Schlossnagle said. “As I told [the media] before the season, we have some really young players that we like on this team. Kasen Wells got his first hit, also had some really good at-bats … and has played good right field. It’s going to take all of us to have the season we want.”
Yet, it was the Aggies that found themselves trailing early, as the Redhawks struck first when senior catcher Grant Heiser singled to drive in a run in the first. Seattle loaded the bases with two outs, but Wansing escaped the inning with minimal damage. The Redhawks tacked on two more runs in the fourth, as Wansing was chased from the game after hitting a batter and issuing a walk. In came Rudis, who hit his first batter and then gave up a bases-loaded walk. Graduate first baseman Matt Boissoneault proceeded to hit an RBI fielder’s choice, upping the Seattle lead to 3-0.
A&M didn’t wait long to respond, though, as it put up a five-spot in the bottom of the frame. After a leadoff walk to junior designated hitter Jack Moss, senior second baseman Austin Bost lasered a line drive over the left-field wall for a two-run home run. Three batters later, following a single by junior first baseman Ryan Targac, LaViolette went deep for his first homer, putting the Aggies on top. The big fish’s big fly traveled 424 feet and came off the bat at 111 mph. Senior center fielder Jordan Thompson later rounded out the scoring for A&M as he sprinted home on a passed ball after back-to-back singles by himself and Wells.
“We kind of started off slow, and we had to pick it up, and then Austin, just getting his pitch and putting a really good swing on it, that just carried for the rest of the team,” LaViolette said. “It showed, [we] got some better swings off on balls and just went back to what we were doing and trusting our routines.”
The Redhawks were held scoreless for the remainder of the contest, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the A&M pitching staff. In the top half of the next three frames, Seattle got at least two runners on, even loading the bases in the seventh. It proved to be no trouble, as Lamkin worked his way out of each inning with no damage. For his efforts, the Corpus Christi native earned himself a necklace featuring a wolf head, bestowed upon the game’s top pitcher by the pitching staff.
LaViolette padded A&M’s lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth with his second round-tripper of the game, this one traveling 421 feet. Two games into the season, the imposing 6-foot-6 figure has given fans plenty to look forward to over the next three years.
“I can’t even put into words how much fun it is,” LaViolette said. “I’ve never been a part of a culture like this, and just coming out here and playing in front of the best fans, what more could you ask for?”
The Aggies will look to complete their sweep of the Redhawks as they return to Olsen Field at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19. Sophomore pitcher Chris Cortez is slated for the starting nod for A&M.

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