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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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No. 3 A&M closes door on sweep of No. 6 Vanderbilt with 12-6 win

Photo by CJ Smith
Graduate DH Hayden Schott (5) reacts to a home run during A&M’s game against Vanderbilt on Sunday, April 14, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

Texas A&M baseball will take what it can get.

Yes, shutting out the country’s No. 6 team in Vanderbilt over the course of the weekend would have felt great. But a sweep over the Commodores would be sweeter.

The No. 3 Aggies made that a reality with a 12-6 come-from-behind win on Sunday, April 14, locking up an undefeated SEC weekend that coach Jim Schlossnagle previously described as “like seeing a polar bear in College Station.”

In that case, students ought to be on alert for the natives of the Arctic lurking in Texas. A&M’s sweep of Vanderbilt marked the Maroon and White’s second sweep of the year after taking down Auburn two weeks ago.

The magnitude of the weekend wasn’t lost on the 12th Man, with the crowd of 7,063 at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park raising the three-day total to 22,489, good for second-most in the ballpark’s history.

“I can’t imagine it being much better between the crowds — it felt like a super regional everyday,” Schlossnagle said. “We had to play Saturday night, so we’re in here, we’re watching all the other SEC games, it’s like you’re watching all the other regionals and super regionals. We’re not to that point yet, but that’s what it felt like with our high-level opponent, great crowds and energy.”

Given their performance this weekend, the Aggies had to be pleased with what they saw across college baseball, with No. 1 Arkansas and No. 2 Clemson dropping their weekend series to set up a potential to shift into the top spot in the nation.

Yet A&M’s latest win didn’t follow the same formula as the weekend’s first two victories, both shutouts in which the Aggies combined to outscore the Commodores 24-0. In Game 3, Vanderbilt struck sophomore LHP Justin Lamkin for four runs in the second inning as it attempted to stave off the sweep.

Following the Aggies’ starting performances of seven innings or more, Lamkin produced a short outing of 1.2 innings, allowing four hits with a walk and a strikeout. The lone walk gave way to freshman LF Braden Holcomb’s two-run homer before a junior SS Jonathan Vastine RBI single and sophomore 1B RJ Austin’s RBI triple off the wall.

Both the potency of the A&M lineup and efficiency of the bullpen, though, provided the foundation for nine unanswered runs, with junior RHP Chris Cortez and senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck limiting the Commodores’ offense to two runs on three hits in the remaining 7.1 innings.

“We used five pitchers in a three-game sweep of one of the best programs in our sport,” Schlossnagle said. “It speaks to how well we pitched and how well we obviously swung the bat.”

For Cortez, it was a continuation of a midweek outing versus UTSA that saw him produce four scoreless frames with seven punchouts. The Las Vegas product kept dealing as he added 4.1 frames with no runs and one hit with eight punchouts. Not that there was any connection between the two performances.

“The Tuesday game has nothing to do with today,” Cortez said. “I was happy about Tuesday, but I moved on from it and I know the best version of myself is having fun, and it all starts in the bullpen. When I’m having fun, that’s when I’m at my best.”

By the middle of the game, it was safe to say the Aggies’ hitters were having fun. Sophomore CF Jace LaViolette’s RBI single and senior C Jackson Appel’s RBI groundout cut the 4-0 deficit in half before the entire lineup got involved in a fifth inning that saw A&M explode for six runs.

Freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac’s solo homer got the party started as LaViolette and junior RF Braden Montgomery responded with back-to-back doubles that tied things up. Vanderbilt sophomore 2B Jayden Davis had a chance to end the inning with a routine grounder from graduate DH Hayden Schott, but took it off his chest to plate the go-ahead run.

Two pitches later, the consequences of the misplayed ball ballooned as junior SS Ali Camarillo sent a 1-0 pitch to the batter’s eye for a three-run blast, breaking the game open as the Aggies took an 8-4 lead.

Grahovac scampered home on a wild pitch in the sixth following a double and plated the first run of a three-run eighth on an RBI single. With four runs, three hits and two runs batted in, it’s understandable to not see him as a freshman on the field — unless you’re one of his teammates.

“The guys let me know everyday I’m still a freshman,” Grahovac said. “I just want to continue to have fun, know my role on the team, continue to be a great teammate and contribute like I have.”

Nine home runs over the series, including two by Grahovac, allowed the Aggies to introduce their record crowd to “Rattlin’ Bog,” an Irish folk song by The Irish Descendents that played over the speakers after each long ball. The idea was brainstormed by Schott and LaViolette, with Schlossnagle giving the thumbs up.

“I think now that we won, they can’t take it away, so I’m going to have a word with coach about that,” Schott said. “I’d love to say that’s the reason that we performed.”

A&M looks to continue flying high as it welcomes Air Force to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park for a weekend matchup on Tuesday, April 16 at 4 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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