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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

Over the outfield wall

No. 1 A&M try to hold top spot at home against nation’s top hitter
Photo by Hannah Harrison
Texas A&M DH Hayden Schott (5) celebrating a home run during Texas A&M’s game against The University of Houston on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)

After notching its fifth-straight series win against ranked opponents with a road double-header win over Alabama and an 13-11 midweek victory over Houston, No. 1 Texas A&M baseball heads to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park to face the next team determined to knock the Aggies off of the mountaintop: the No. 20 Georgia Fightin’ Charlie Condons.

I mean, the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia heads to Aggieland after an 15-inning, 4-3 win — on a walk-off wild pitch, no less — over No. 5 Clemson on Tuesday. With a 9-9 record in conference play and sitting in fourth place in the SEC East, the Bulldogs may not look like an opponent to stress over. But when the top four teams in the country all hail from the SEC, being middle-of-the-pack in the SEC means they can beat anyone in the country on any given day — as the victory over top-five Clemson shows.

As for why Georgia can beat top-five teams, look no further than sophomore UTL Condon, the SEC’s star slugger — and arguably the nation’s top player.

Containing Condon

Georgia has the best hitter in college baseball, and it’s A&M’s job to limit the damage when he steps up to the plate.

Condon leads the nation in batting average (.477), home runs (26), hits (74) and a host of other statistics that make him a serious contender to be drafted number one overall in the 2024 MLB Draft. This is only his second season playing for the Bulldogs, and his award page in his bio on Georgia’s athletics website is 17 lines long — I checked, twice. We’ll all be hearing his name in the majors soon enough.

Players like Charlie Condon are why God gave man the gift of the intentional walk — and don’t forget, even the Mighty Casey struck out when it mattered most.

But if Condon is in top form, he isn’t a guy that A&M will be able to neutralize with just the right pitching matchup — but that’s not the Aggies’ style anyway.

Despite their No. 1 ranking, the Maroon and White are 16th in the nation in hits allowed per game. They win their games at the plate, including the seven games they’ve won while conceding eight runs.

In any case, Georgia isn’t the only team with big-time sluggers.

Power at the plate

Condon may lead the country in most hitting statistics, but A&M has a pair of hitters that are hot on his heels.

Junior OF Braden Montgomery is third in the nation in home runs — just four behind Condon — while sophomore OF Jace LaViolette is fifth in the country in the same statistic. While the Aggies don’t have anyone with the batting average to match Condon’s, they’ve got seven players batting over .300 — then again, the Bulldogs have six of their own hitters doing the same thing.

Georgia isn’t a defensive powerhouse. The Bulldogs are 54th in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings, and 17th in strikeouts per nine innings — not terrible, but that may not be enough against the lineup of the No. 1 team in the country.

But if the Red and Black want to head home with a series win, it’ll have to be. Because anything involving the top-ranked team in any sport means the margin of error is slim — especially when it comes to SEC baseball.

Case in point, each team’s average scoring: A&M is averaging 9.4 runs a game. Georgia is averaging 9.5. If this series comes down to pure offense, things are going to be close.

The difference maker might just be a dose of Olsen Magic.

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About the Contributors
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and 
Hannah Harrison
Hannah Harrison, Photographer
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  • M

    M. A. SterlingApr 26, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    Great article! Should be a VERY interesting weekend for sure. Gig’Em & BTHO uga!

  • M

    MichaelApr 25, 2024 at 2:06 pm

    Can’t wait for this weekend