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

Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024
Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) blocks Arkansas Razorbacks guard Tramon Mark (12) during Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Reed Arena. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Free falling
February 20, 2024
Jace LaViolette (17) an Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle celebrating a home run during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
GALLERY: Baseball vs. UIW
February 20, 2024

In for the save

 
 

In a close Friday night game in Fayetteville, Ark., the Texas A&M baseball team found itself six outs away from sealing an upset victory over the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks. Battling back from a three-run deficit in the hostile environment of the road, the Aggies held a two-run lead entering into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Already four pitchers deep, head coach Rob Childress sent closer Jason Jester to the mound. Jester battled through six outs with no hits before the Razorbacks eventually fell in a 5-3 loss, earning the junior his tenth save of the season.
Jester’s performance spoke to the impact he has had on this year’s A&M squad.
“When the game’s on the line or when the game is tied or if we need to bring [Jester] in, in the seventh just to shut someone down, I think the entire team and the coaching staff has confidence in him to do that,” said junior catcher Troy Stein.
Jester began his career playing catch with his brother and evolved into a star on his high school squad. As a senior at Hallsville High School, Jester was a 10-2 starter but was not recognized by many college programs. With the lack of attention, Jester considered quitting the sport to prepare for a career after school.
“Not very many teams gave me a chance,” Jester said. “I was just going to get into technical school and get into the oil and gas industry.”
Prepared to start a career, Jester was convinced by high school friends to try out at Tyler Junior College. The tryout turned into a starting pitcher role on the team, going 9-2 as a freshman with 87 strikeouts.
As a closer his sophomore year, Tyler assistant coach and former Texas A&M pitcher Hart Hering gave Jester an opportunity on the mound. Little to his knowledge, Childress sat in the stands and, as a pitching-centric coach, took notice.
“I pitched Friday or Saturday, visited [A&M] Monday and was in awe of the facilities and everything. I committed Wednesday,” Jester said. “It’s weird looking back at it. It’s a little shocking but I’m blessed to be where I’m at now. I’m excited that Hart Hering gave me an opportunity. That was huge for me and I have to give a lot of thanks to him.”
Jester’s career at A&M did not begin as expected. He was the presumed closer-in-waiting before last season, when he was ruled academically ineligible just before opening day.
Childress chose to redshirt Jester, a decision that helped shape Jester into the player he is today. The junior has even considered entering his name into the upcoming MLB draft.
“I felt like I owed it to my teammates and owed it to coach [to return],” Jester said. “For them to reach out and give me an opportunity I felt like I owed it to them to come back and give back to what have been given to me.”
Jester took full advantage of the year he had been given to improve as a player and as a teammate.
“For him not to be available for us last year was tough,” Childress said. “But he grew up a little bit and got stronger. He was always a good teammate and a big part of our team last year even though he wasn’t able to step between the lines.”
This season, Jester has become an anchor of the A&M bullpen. In 31 and one-third innings pitched, Jester has ten saves and 31 strikeouts with a 2.87 earned run average, good for second on the team.
Childress said Jester’s success is due to how he embraces his role.
“To have a guy that you know is going to go out and throw strikes with above average stuff at the end of the game that really embraces that role is a luxury,” Childress said. “A closer in the 20-plus years [crowd] is not the guy with the best stuff but the guy who relishes in that role.”
The players and coaches both know that, in a close game, a call will be made to the bullpen for a player who nearly hung up his cleats for a pair steel-toed boots years prior.
“He goes out there with the supreme confidence that he can get anyone out and he’s right,” Stein said “He’s got good enough stuff to get anybody out in the country. He loves coming out there in that situation to slam the door and slam it in people’s face.”

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