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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

South Carolina avoids being swept by No. 21 Texas A&M

It’s not always easy to follow up a come-from-behind win at home that saw No. 21 Texas A&M rally from 9-0. In Game 3, A&M tried to make some Olsen Magic for the second-straight day but was unable to match or keep up with South Carolina’s power at the plate.
Early on, the Aggies had fallen behind 7-0 with South Carolina’s bats, homering four times by the end of the fourth inning. A&M’s bats didn’t get started until later in the afternoon, and ultimately it was too late.
Despite the loss, the Aggies took the series, as they and coach Jim Schlossnagle took a 30-16 record, 14-10 in the SEC, into the last few weeks of the regular season. After Mother’s Day weekend, A&M sits in second place in the SEC West, tied with LSU. Arkansas claims the top spot by a two-game advantage.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Schlossnagle said. “I think we’ve played hard, and the kids have gotten us to this point. Our guys competed to the last pitch which is what we’ve seen all year long.”
Junior outfielder Jordan Thompson, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk, said the series finale felt similar to the previous day, before a late home run ended the maroon and white’s hopes.
“I thought we had it, but ended up not turning out in our favor,” Thompson said. “I think we’re heading on the right track. Time will tell.”
The first three innings came and went as neither side could get on the scoreboard despite men being able to reach base. Freshman lefty Ryan Prager got the start in his 12th appearance of the year and was in control early on, as South Carolina’s 6-foot-6 sophomore hurler Will Sanders was consistent in all six innings of his outing.
A solo shot from the Gamecocks to lead off the top of the fourth prompted Prager’s exit from the game with freshman righty Brad Rudis coming on for what would be the 18th outing of his first season. Shortly thereafter, a South Carolina grand slam all of the sudden made it a 5-0 lead and an inning later, the Gamecocks blasted a pair of home runs that upped the advantage to a sizable 7-0.
A&M did get on the scoreboard a half-inning later, trying to spark a repeat of the previous day’s comeback, when graduate shortstop Kole Kaler singled home the first Aggie run of the day. Kaler ended up being the only Aggie to have success against Sanders, as he kept the comeback train going a couple of innings later.
Sanders continued to keep A&M’s bats quiet through the middle innings until the bottom of the seventh. A pair of Aggies reached base via a fielding error and a walk with no outs for Kaler who proceeded to blast a three-run shot to right-center field on a 3-2 count, bringing the maroon and white within three runs. The homer came on Sanders’ 110th pitch, and it ended his day with South Carolina going to the bullpen.
“Definitely would’ve liked to sweep today,” Kaler said. “We didn’t play as good of baseball as we’d like today, but [we’ll] get ready for Mississippi State next weekend.”
Later on in the inning, two more Aggies reached base and got to second and third after a fielding error and a stolen base. Junior outfielder Brett Minnich walked on four-straight pitches, representing the tying run and loading the bags with two outs. He and the others would be stranded though, with the 7-4 score staying true into the late stages.
“That’s all you can ask for — giving your team the chance to be one swing away from taking the lead or getting back in the ballgame,” Schlossnagle said. “Today we didn’t get that hit and we didn’t back it up on the mound.”
That deficit was put back up to five runs when sophomore pitcher Will Johnston allowed the fifth South Carolina homer of the day in the top of the eighth, making the uphill climb even steeper. The two-run blast was one of 14 Gamecock hits and capped off a strong offensive series against a conference opponent this season.
The 9-4 final score got South Carolina out of Texas with one win in the three-game series as the Aggies turn their attention to defending NCAA Champion Miss. St. next weekend. Game 1 is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13 at Blue Bell Park. SEC Network+ has the coverage and there will be postgame fireworks.

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