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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘Stay in the moment’

After a slow start highlighted by pitching struggles, No. 7 A&M baseball earns win over Prairie View
Photo by CJ Smith
Junior INF Ali Camarillo (2) catches a ground ball during A&M’s game against Prairie View on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

In a midweek tuneup against Prairie View A&M, the Panthers were at the Aggies’ necks right from the get-go. After a back-and-forth affair, PVAMU looked like it had an upset win in the bag as the visiting underdogs lead 9-6 after seven innings.

Despite the tension that came with the situation, coach Jim Schlossnagle kept his team composed and under control as he had earlier in the season.

“Like the Rhode Island game, we all feel [the tension],” Schlossnagle said. “You feel the tension but the ability to just stay in the moment and try to play pitch to pitch and understand that the eighth inning is the same as the second [inning].”

However, before the Aggies came back to win 11-9, they had to go through a rite of passage.

Though A&M has been one of the country’s best bullpens, ranked No. 2 in ERA, PVAMU figured the pitchers out early on. Junior RHP Braden Montgomery earned his first pitching start for the Maroon and White, but struggled mightily in the first inning. He gave up four walks and the Panthers capitalized on the early momentum with a three-run homer by junior DH Tyran Norris.

Conversely, the Aggies were hot at bat and right away, sophomore CF Jace LaViolette belted a two-run homer, hammering it down right field to put A&M on the board.

Though redshirt senior RHP Zane Badmaev gave up an RBI single, the Aggies’ bats kept singing as sophomore C Max Kaufer’s two-run homer marked his first home run of the season while LaViolette smoked a solo shot that marked his 12th homer of the season.

With the Aggies back on top and with the offense pouring on early, it looked like an easy win back at home. However, the Panthers had other plans. They scored in the next two innings, highlighted by freshman RF Michael Smith’s two-run homer to left center.

While the Panthers kept pouncing, A&M tried different pitchers. With an early rotation of Montgomery, Badmaev and freshman RHP Brett Antolick, PVAMU figured each of them out and its batters kept the Maroon and White at bay by answering back whenever the Aggies scored.

Despite the uncharacteristic pitching struggles, the momentum slowly but surely turned on its heels in favor of the Aggies, starting with junior RHP Brad Rudis relieving Antolick. Though he was in the game for just 0.2 innings, Rudis maintained a perfect 0.00 ERA, and with the late innings in sight, senior RHP Brock Peery came in the game.

Though PVAMU sat on top 7-5 after five, Peery got things going for the Aggies, earning a 1-2-3 frame. Joining in on the home run fun, Montgomery made up for his pitching struggles with a solo homer as A&M continued its comeback.

Shooting down the comeback attempt, Smith earned an RBI single as senior C Derrek Lathon Jr. scored to bring in freshman RHP Isaac Morton to finish the tightly contested game. Then, PVAMU continued to pull away as junior CF Garrison Weiss’ sac bunt rung in junior 2B Isaac Davila for another run to put the Panthers firmly on top 9-6 heading into the eighth.

Down but not out, Morton started the Maroon and White’s comeback push with a 1-2-3 frame and, after junior RHP Leonardo Bravo came in to finish the game, the new A&M transfers blew it wide open. Starting with senior RF Hayden Schott’s double down the left field line, he brought home Montgomery. Shortly after, junior SS Ali Camarillo’s two-run single tied the game up.

With the home crowd fully in effect, senior C Jackson Appel’s double to right field wrangled in Camarillo to finally put the Aggies on top.

Freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac kept pouring it on, singling down right center as Appel came to home plate.

Despite all the pitching struggles, Morton put the finishing touches on as he ended the game with another 1-2-3 frame to put the Aggies back in the win column.

On the cusp of 20 wins, A&M is back at Olsen Field on Thursday, March 21 and picks up SEC play as Mississippi State comes into town for a series.

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About the Contributor
Justin Chen
Justin Chen, Sports Writer
Justin Chen is a journalism senior minoring in sport management and communication. Justin has covered football, men's basketball, volleyball, baseball and swim & dive. Justin also writes feature NBA pieces and covered the Miami Heat for Sir Charles In Charge. When not writing, he likes to frequent the gym, support Arsenal and watch anime.
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