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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Janca delivers game-winner in extra inning nail biter over Davidson, 7-6

Davidson+student+manager+James+Padley+hugs+catcher+Jake+Sidwell+before+first+pitch.
Photo by By Alex Miller

Davidson student manager James Padley hugs catcher Jake Sidwell before first pitch.

It didn’t seem like it when the Aggies were winning 6-0 in the sixth inning and Brigham Hill was throwing a no-hitter, but Friday’s Super Regional turned out to be the game that wouldn’t end.
Both Texas A&M and Davidson threatened multiple times in extra innings and the game seemed to hang in the balance with each pitch, but neither team was able to score until George Janca came through with a two-out walk-off single in the 15th inning to give the Aggies a 7-6 victory and a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series.
“What a great baseball game,” Davidson head coach Dick Cooke said in the postgame press conference. “It’s a shame someone had to lose.”
A plethora of big plays kept the game tied. A runner picked off of third base in the 13th, a crucial runner’s interference call in the 12th and a bang-bang play at third base on a sacrifice bunt attempt, to name a few.
The Aggies (40-21) were on their way to blowing a prime opportunity when Baine Schoenvogel and Walker Pennington hit back-to-back infield popups with the bases loaded, but Janca was able to sneak a sharp ground ball through the right side to seal the win.
“We had been kind of struggling in the latter part of the game driving people in,” Janca said. “We were always setting them up and we were always right there, and I just happened to be up in that situation and it got through.”
Braden Shewmake started the final rally with a walk and Hunter Coleman followed with a single to right field. Blake Kopetsky then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Wildcats reliever Westin Whitmire tried to get the lead runner at third base. Shewmake slid in ahead of the throw, though, loading the bases with no outs.
That set the stage for Janca’s heroics.
A&M jumped out to an early lead by scoring in four of the first five innings off Davidson ace Durin O’Linger. Nick Choruby led off the bottom of the first with a double down the right-field line and then scored on an RBI groundout by Shewmake.
Choruby created two more runs in the second, plating Walker Pennington and Joel Davis with a two-out double to right centerfield.
Pennington drove in Shewmake with an RBI single in the third, and Coleman made it 6-0 in the fifth with a two-run blast off the scoreboard in left field. That only seemed to wake up the Wildcats, however.
“It was kind of just stay up, stay light,” Davidson center fielder Cam Johnson said of the talk in the dugout when the Wildcats got down 6-0. “It’s our first Super Regional so we just saw it as an opportunity and we just wanted to have fun with it.”
To start the sixth, Hill threw low to Coleman at first base on a comebacker to allow Davidson’s second baserunner of the afternoon, and then Johnson and Will Robertson hit consecutive run-scoring doubles. A sacrifice fly by Brian Fortier moments later made it 6-3.
Hill scattered four hits and one earned run over six innings of work, striking out six and walking one. The game was far from over, though, even with bullpen stalwarts Kaylor Chafin and Cason Sherrod ready to pitch the last three innings.
Chafin only got one of the four hitters he faced in the seventh, prompting Childress to bring in Sherrod to attempt an eight-out save. Sherrod was superb until the ninth, when Robertson singled up the middle to tie the game.
When Sherrod could not pitch any longer, he passed the baton to Mitchell Kilkenny who, despite not having pitched since May 23, put together a heroic relief appearance. The former weekend starter pitched 5.2 innings, throwing 79 of his 102 pitches for strikes and striking out a career-high nine.
“I was just waiting for my chance to do my job and let the team take care of the rest,” Kilkenny said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
But every time the Aggies appeared to grab the momentum after a Kilkenny scoreless frame, the offense could not score. They had the winning run only 90 feet away in the 11th and 14th innings yet failed to push him across, but Janca — who struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the 11th — refused to let that happen again in the 15th.
“We had great at-bats all night long and we just couldn’t quite break through with runners in scoring position,” Janca said. “Finally we did there in the 15th.”
John Doxakis preserved the tie with a strikeout in a big situation in the top-half of the 15th inning. With Kilkenny tiring and Davidson leadoff hitter Cam Johnson — who was 4-for-7 at that point in the game — due up next, Childress called on the freshman lefty to get the final out. He did just that, striking out Johnson looking on a fastball that caught the outside corner. The Aggies managed to channel the energy from that crucial moment into a run-scoring inning.
“That was gigantic,” Childress said of the Doxakis strikeout. “Mitchell had emptied the tank and then some for us. We felt like it was time to go with the [left-on-left] matchup against Cam [Johnson].”
Four different Aggies recorded at least three hits in the extra-inning contest, with Pennington going 4-for-7 to raise his batting average a whopping 34 points.
The two teams return to the diamond Saturday at 5 p.m. Corbin Martin gets the ball for the Aggies as they try to punch their ticket to the College World Series for the first time since 2011.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Childress concluded. “It’s a good win, but it’s all about the finish. We have to go to bed and get up to play tomorrow.”

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  • Sophomore Mitchell Kilkenny threw 5.2 scoreless innings in relief and struck out a career-high nine batters.

  • Sophomore George Janca hit the game-winning single in the 15th inning, giving the Aggies a 7-6 victory.

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