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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New age on the diamond

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle heads to the locker room after the Aggies are eliminated in Game 11 of the Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

On March 15, following an 8-2 loss to Houston, Texas A&M was underperforming with a 10-6 record to the disappointment of many. It seemed like the team was bound for a similar performance to the 2021 season despite the high hopes fans had for this team featuring a new head coach, Jim Schlossnagle, and an astonishing 20 new players who were not on the previous year’s roster. 

Fast forward three months to the end of June, the Aggies boast a 44-20 overall record, with a 19-11 record in SEC play. Compared to 29-27 and 9-21 records from 2021, it was clear whatever Schlossnagle and his squad did worked. This improvement was the tip of the iceberg of success for this team. A&M topped the SEC West standings for the first time since joining the SEC in 2012 and was selected to host a Super Regional in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies were far from finished with their work and steamed on like the locomotives that pass by Olsen Field. 

Under the vision of Schlossnagle and the grit of the players, the Aggies seemed to do the impossible: completely flip a program in less than 365 days. 

“I called [Schlossnagle] after the Penn series, and I said, ‘Coach, it’s going to be OK. We don’t have to panic. This is a long-term build. This is a process.’ To have it flip like that and to be able to host and win the [SEC] West … an unbelievable turnaround in Year 1,” A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork told  

In addition to an incredible regular season performance, the Aggies also had a historic showing in the postseason. A&M was the only team other than the Ole Miss Rebels to go undefeated, 5-0, through regional and super regional play. By crushing Oral Roberts 8-2, Louisiana 9-6 and Schlossnagle’s former school, TCU 15-9, the team earned the program’s 10th regional. Following through with 5-4 and 4-3 wins over Louisville, the team headed to Omaha, Neb., for the seventh time. Before this season, the Aggies had not been to the “greatest show on dirt” since 2017 and didn’t have an appearance with a win since 1993. 

After losing in the first elimination game 13-8 to the Oklahoma Sooners in the opening round, the Aggies faced off against its historic rival for the second time this season: the Texas Longhorns. During this all-star game with two of the best teams in the country, A&M was able to keep the Longhorns scoreless for the final five innings and sent the team back to Austin with a dominating 10-2 score. 

Two days later, the maroon and white faced their second elimination matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Luck wasn’t on the Irish’s side with its errors leading the Aggies to gain an early 2-0 lead. A&M didn’t let off the gas and stamped three more runs on the scoreboard to win 5-1, which led to a rematch against the Sooners where its time in Omaha came to end with a 5-1 loss. 

If there is only one word to describe this team, memorable is a perfect choice, as Schlossnagle expressed after the Notre Dame game. 

“Whether we win or lose the rest of this thing, this team is going to be remembered for a really long time,” Schlossnagle said.

The phenomenal performances by several of the players were noticed by the SEC, D1 Baseball, American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball America among others. Junior second baseman Austin Bost, graduate outfielder Dylan Rock and sophomore infielder Ryan Targac all earned All-SEC Second Team recognition. 

Freshman righty Chris Cortez was honored with a spot on the SEC’s All-Freshman squad. Graduate left-handed pitcher Jacob Palisch earned All-America Second Team from D1 Baseball and Baseball America All-America Second Team honors alongside Rock. 

While player accolades and a great season can be exciting, having unique team traditions can be the cherry on top. Fans and visitors are accustomed to the bubbles in Blue Bell Park after a run, but this season, a new tradition emerged from the dugout in the form of a cylindrical can. It seemed the Aggies weren’t content with just having a chip on their shoulders, but also a chip in the dugout. 

After the early-season loss to Houston, Schlossnagle spoke to the players in the locker room telling them they needed to be “hungry for wins,” as reflected on by junior righty Micah Dallas.

“He was saying winning needs to be like you’re eating Pringles,” Dallas told The Eagle. “He asked if we’d ever had a Pringle, and we’re like, ‘Yeah,’ and he’s like, ‘You can’t just eat one. You’ve got to have them all.’ So, we kind of just took that to heart, and we all kind of liked that idea. The Pringles is just the face of it. It’s fun and exciting, but when you really boil it down, it’s just about competing with each other and having fun and being hungry for more wins. It kind of just gave us something to rally behind and loosen up a little bit and just play.”

The Pringles instantly became a hit and even caught the attention of the company itself. Following the win over TCU on June 6, the company reached out to the team via Twitter and ended up sending a package weighing over 70 pounds to Aggieland. 

This is only the beginning for A&M’s squad as this experience has done nothing but give players the ability to share their advice and wisdom with a new recruiting class and each other. 

“Now, you’ll have a group of guys who have been there,” Schlossnagle said after the second loss to Oklahoma. “Now, instead of hearing [how important all the small things are] from a coach, now you’re going to hear it from players. The best way for younger guys on our team to honor the guys that were just up here is to work their tails off to get back here. We have a lot of work to do in recruiting. All in all, I think the Aggies are really proud today. The beauty of it too is that we’re also disappointed because we want to win championships.” 

While many could be content with the results from this season, Schlossnagle sees this as an opportunity to garner support for updating the program and, as he told the Houston Chronicle, a chance for an updated home for the team. 

“I hope [this season] spurs some people to want to speed up the process on renovating our ballpark. We have work to do to get our facility the right way,” Schlossnagle said. “We need a bigger ballpark, and there’s a demand for season tickets, and there’s demand for premium space. They’re on the docket, and when I talked about coming to A&M, those were things we discussed. It will happen in time.” 

No one knows what’s in store for this team of players and coaches, but if there’s one thing Schlossnagle can agree on, it’s that this team and this season is one to be remembered years down the road. 

“[This team] will forever be remembered as the team that hopefully reignited Texas A&M baseball,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s hard to create a team with the synergy that this team has. It’s time to start back from ground zero.”

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