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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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Strong relief outings guide A&M to 10-6 win over Tarleton State

Photo by Chris Swann
Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tarleton State on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

With a 16.88 ERA over just 2.2 innings and four appearances this season, freshman LHP Kaiden Wilson entered Tuesday, April 30’s matchup with Tarleton State as a background character in the bullpen for Texas A&M baseball.

Yet by the end of the No. 1 Aggies’ 10-6 win over the Texans at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, Wilson showed why he could become a valuable piece of A&M’s bullpen as postseason play approaches. He nearly doubled his production this year with two hitless frames and four strikeouts as the Aggies remained perfect in midweek matchups.

“The highlight of the night, for sure, for our program moving forward is Kaiden Wilson,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I wanted to run him back out there, but I also wanted him fresh for the weekend. That was huge for his confidence and big for our team.”

Wilson’s performance followed an impressive one by junior RHP Brad Rudis, with two scoreless frames in which he allowed one hit and struck out two. The Madisonville native inherited Tarleton’s hot start with two runners in scoring position with no outs. With the Texans leading 4-1, Rudis induced a foulout and a popout before a punchout ended the threat.

Over the pair’s four combined innings, the Aggies’ bats produced eight runs to push themselves ahead for good. Manning the hot corner for resting freshman Gavin Grahovac, sophomore 3B Kaeden Kent collected two hits, including a three-run double in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

Four of Wilson’s five appearances have come over the past two weeks. Before his performance versus the Texans, the Missouri product had allowed at least one run and one hit in each outing, all lasting an inning or less. Improved health coupled with newfound confidence may be key to his consistent use as a reliever.

“He’s just been healthy,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s just been able to get out there. We trust him, he’s not afraid at all. He has big confidence in himself … Eventually, I’d love to see the guy be a starting pitcher. I don’t know if it’ll be this year, but it’s a great weapon in the bullpen considering [junior LHP Troy] Wansing’s down and we have [sophomore LHP Shane] Sdao and [senior LHP Evan] Aschenbeck and Kaiden, that’s huge for us.”

The successful relief work came at a much-needed time for the Maroon and White, as starting freshman RHP Isaac Morton logged two frames with an earned run and an unearned run with two walks and a hit batter. After a seven-pitch first inning, he was tagged for two runs in the second, albeit without allowing a hit.

Junior 1B Brandon Howell’s RBI sacrifice fly put Tarleton on the board first before a fielding error by Kent let the inning continue with two outs. The Texans seized the opportunity as junior LF Trace Morrison scampered home on a wild pitch.

Senior 1B Ted Burton’s fifth home run in the past four games cut the lead in half while marking A&M’s 100th long ball of the season, the second time it’s been achieved in program history.

“That’s just part of college baseball in the SEC,” Schlossnagle said. “How many teams have 70-plus homers? Probably a fair amount. The players are so big and strong and the bats are different, the balls are different. That’s part of the game now.”

Tarleton added two more runs in the third off of freshman RHP Weston Moss to gain a 4-1 advantage, but sophomore CF Jace LaViolette was quick to claim home run No. 101 in the bottom of the frame. He sent the first pitch he saw 424 feet to right-center field, good for a three-run blast that evened the score.

While Rudis kept the Texans at bay in the fourth, junior SS Ali Camarillo lasered a solo shot over the left field, putting the Aggies ahead while extending his on-base streak to 31 games. Schlossnagle said the consistent production has been a result of Camarillo’s collaboration with hitting coach Michael Earley and strength and conditioning coach Josh Kesel.

“We did some physical changes, but the main thing was my mentality, swinging at my pitches and not getting myself out,” Camarillo said. “I raised my hands, for one, and ever since I have, my exit velos have gone up, more hits, more walks … I wish I had done it a long time ago.”

Senior 2B Travis Chestnut, though, exhibited why the Texans couldn’t keep all their attention on the player at the plate. Chestnut found his way on base three times behind a walk, a single and being hit by a pitch, managing to score each time. With two stolen bases, it was often because he put himself in position to come home.

The seventh inning was an epitome of sorts of Chestnut’s aggressiveness on the basepaths, as he wore a 2-2 pitch from senior LHP Matt Haley before stealing second. Immediately after the fourth ball thrown in a walk to Kent, Chestnut was quick to swipe third as well, with no one in the Tarleton infield covering third.

“I can’t even begin to describe what he does on the bases,” Schlossnagle said. “Most guys, they’re thinking about hitting, even when they get to the bases. They’re not thinking about getting to the next base. Chestnut, that’s his pride. He’s just so dying to get to first base so that then he can showcase [his speed]. It’s not just the speed, it’s the instincts, and that’s what makes him such a weapon.”

After sprinting to take second and third, Chestnut was rewarded with a simple stroll home for his third run after Haley’s balk.

“This lineup is awesome,” Rudis said. “A lot of all-stars, but the guys in the bottom of the lineup are all-stars as well. You never know on any given night who’s gonna have a home run or who’s gonna have the runs that we need or RBIs or anything like that. This offense is crazy.”

A&M now visits the home of defending national champion LSU for this weekend’s three-game set, although the Tigers have seen their share of struggles this season with a 7-14 mark in SEC play. Action in Baton Rouge, Louisiana kicks off Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m.

“You have to be ready to go in that atmosphere,” Rudis said. “You have to be able to block out the outside noise, all the voices that you hear and all the comments that you’re gonna hear out of the stand.”

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About the Contributors
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a senior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
Chris Swann
Chris Swann, Photo Chief
Chris is a Journalism junior from Winnsboro, TX. Chris served as the Social Media Manager and Assistant Photo Chief prior to becoming Photo Chief for The Battalion’s photo desk. Before transferring to A&M in the Fall of 2023, Chris spent two years at Tyler Junior College, where he was Photo and Design editor for their student media, The DrumBeat. He is expected to graduate in May of 2026.
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