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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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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

Pitching game prominent in close 3-2 win for Texas A&M

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

A&M baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle speaks to his team after the Aggies’ win over HBU in Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022.

Texas A&M’s pitching has been the most impressive and consistent aspect of this year’s team. Coming into Tuesday, March 1, the Aggies led the nation in walks allowed per nine innings and the main four starting pitchers had been extremely successful in stressful situations.
The freshman righty Khristian Curtis, coming off a scoreless four-inning outing last week against Lamar, would make his second career start in brilliant fashion to keep up the streak of quality, winning starts. Against Houston Baptist, led by first-year head coach and former MLB All-Star Lance Berkman, the Aggies held on to win 3-2 with an early home run making the difference in the game.
Schlossnagle said he’s not afraid to put his young arms in big situations like Tuesday night. Each of the three hurlers who took the mound against the Huskies are freshman, and they all have logged multiple innings in the first few weeks of the year.
“If you’ve watched us play this season, you know that those [three] guys that do the bulk of the pitching for us,” Schlossnagle said. “I feel like Khristian [Curtis] did a nice job. He still needs to land his breaking ball a bit better in addition to other secondary pitches, but we played good defense behind him.”
The first three innings of the night passed in similar fashion to A&M’s previous couple games in which the Aggie offense stayed quiet, but the pitching was on point. Curtis stranded men in the second and third innings but kept the Huskies from scoring and stringing hits together.
Then, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, junior right fielder Brett Minnich pulled a 1-1 fastball 350 feet to right field that broke the scoreless tie and put the maroon and white in front. He now leads the team in round-trippers with a pair.
Curtis had a 1-2-3 first inning, and after five innings of work and 75 pitches, he was pulled. His ability to switch pitch types and keep Houston Baptist off balance made it hard to get solid contact, as evidenced by seven induced groudouts and five flyouts. Curtis also had allowed just two hits through 20 men faced and only allowed five men to reach base.
“The first [outing] was definitely a little nerve wracking, but I just had to compete and that’s all you can do,” Curtis said. “Today, [my] fastball command was there in the first inning. I struggled on my sliders some, and I need to focus on throwing that with intent.”
A&M built on that lead right away when sophomore first baseman Jack Moss, who’s found a role as the team’s three-hole hitter, brought home two runs on a sharp two-out double down the left field line. Through eight games and 26 at-bats this season, he’s hitting .346 with a .455 on-base percentage and has only struck out twice.
“The hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball, and I think we’ve got a lot of guys pressing right now,” Moss said. “I do my best to go up there and relax, focusing on seeing the ball and putting a good swing on a pitch.”
The Huskies were able to get those two runs though in the sixth and seventh innings though. They came off of the freshman righty Chris Cortez, who took Curtis’ spot on the mound to start the sixth. After three scoreless innings to start his campaign, Cortez has given up three runs, two earned, in the 3.1 innings since.
Another freshman righty, Brad Rudis, took over in the eighth in his third appearance of the season and managed to maintain the one-run advantage with a pair of strikeouts and a flyout that stranded a Husky at third.
A&M’s bats wouldn’t get an insurance run, sending things to the top of the ninth for Rudis to try and get the first save of his career. He struck out the leadoff man, struck out the second opponent and got the final out with a flyout caught by Minnich in right field.
“Cortez and Rudis have solidified themselves as go-to guys in our bullpen, so we are able to get them experience during the week in addition to the weekend,” Schlossnagle said.
The Aggies are now a perfect 13-0 against the Huskies all-time. A&M will go into the Frisco College Baseball Classic starting this Friday, March 4 against Washington State with a 6-2 record. First pitch against the Cougars is set for 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 5 will see A&M face Iowa and on Sunday, March 6, the opponent is Wichita State. All games will be played at Riders Field in Frisco and can be streamed on FloBaseball.

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