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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

Swept up in the storm: A&M drops Game 2 to Alabama

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman LF Jace LaViolette (17) fields a ground ball during Texas A&M’s game against UTRGV at Olsen Field on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

No one wants to be run-ruled, but on the bright side, it seemed like it was either that or a lightning delay that would have cut the Saturday, May 13, matchup short.
The dark clouds looming over Blue Bell Park seemed to be a sign of things to come for Texas A&M baseball, as it was handed a resounding 12-1 defeat at the hands of Alabama. The Crimson Tide went yard three times in the game — two by junior RF Andrew Pinckney — and the Aggies’ bats could not secure crucial two-out hits to stay in the game.
Things got out to a rough start for A&M before the game even started. The 12 p.m. start that was already moved to adjust to weather was pushed back to a 12:45 p.m. start due to lightning.
The delay did not throw off the Crimson Tide’s rhythm whatsoever. Initially, it was announced that sophomore LHP Troy Wansing would be getting the start, but junior LHP Will Johnston got the start instead on Senior Day, having both a hot and cold day.
“I just felt like [Johnston] had been pitching better the last two times,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “With the thought that there may be only one game left in the series, I thought Will had pitched better than Wansing to this point and I didn’t want to go through the series without pitching Will.”
To kick off the first frame, senior Alabama SS Jim Jarvis took the second pitch of the game to right field for a single, and senior LF Tommy Seidl was hit by pitch to put two runners on with no outs.
In the three-hole spot, Pinckney made Johnston pay. The Peachtree City, Georgia native blasted a three-run shot deep to the top of the left-field scoreboard. In the blink of an eye, Alabama went up three to nothing.
“They hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Schlossnagle said. “Pinckney’s just back-legging balls like he’s in a softball game. So, we’ve got to make better pitches.”
Johnston heated up and responded with two-straight strikeouts, but then quickly cooled back by walking the next three batters to load the bases with two outs. In poetic fashion, the southpaw ignited once more and avoided any more damage by striking out junior Alabama CF Caden Rose to end the inning.
Senior RHP Garrett McMillan got the start for the Crimson Tide and, like the weather did, dampened the Aggies’ spirits.
The right-hander from Tuscaloosa held the Aggies to just one earned run on six hits with seven strikeouts, facing the minimum in the first inning and only allowing a runner on third base once in his six innings of work.
A&M had multiple two-out opportunities with runners in scoring position to try to even the Tide, but could not capitalize. In the bottom of the second, after freshman RF Jace LaViolette and senior CF Jordan Thompson flied out, senior DH Brett Minnich singled to left-center field to keep the inning alive. Senior 2B Austin Bost then drew a walk and was followed up by junior LF Ryan Targac with a single. Minnich had an opportunity to score on the single to right but, due to the conditions, both him and Bost slipped rounding the bases and were forced to retreat, loading the bases with two outs.
Freshman C Max Kaufer could not cash in any of the runners, leaving three stranded on a groundout.
Another two-out chance to salvage some runs came in the bottom of the fourth inning. After junior SS Hunter Haas struck out and junior 1B Jack Moss grounded out, junior 3B Trevor Werner and LaViolette singled to put two runners on. The lack of timely hitting reared its head again, and Thompson flew out to leave a zero on the scoreboard.
“Their pitcher was throwing a lot of strikes, keeping us off balance,” Bost said. “We just weren’t on it like we were yesterday, but it’s alright, it’s baseball, onto the next.”
The Crimson Tide caught lightning in a bottle in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore RHP Chris Cortez, who came in relief for Johnston in the third, started the inning by giving up two singles to freshman 3B Colby Shelton and graduate 2B Ed Johnson.
Junior C Mac Guscette tried to advance both runners with a sacrifice bunt, but Cortez chased the bunt down the left-field line and threw Shelton out at third, leaving runners on first and second with one out.
Cortez then walked Rose to load the bases, bringing in senior LHP Matt Dillard to try to limit the damage. Jarvis wasted no time attacking the new pitcher, hitting a single to right field to stretch the Alabama lead to six. Seidl followed him up with an RBI single of his own in the next at bat, ballooning the lead to seven.
Senior RHP Carson Lambert came in for Dillard as Schlossnagle looked for some relief out of the bullpen, but again, it did not appear. Immediately after replacing Dillard, Lambert had a pitch blasted by Pinckney, his second three-run home run of the day, in what ended up being the killing blow for the Aggies. Shelton added salt to the wound later in the inning with a two-run blast to right field, and the Crimson Tide put up a crooked eight runs in the fifth.
“They’re really good,” Schlossnagle said. “You can’t throw fastballs belt high in a 3-1 count to a guy like Pinckney who’s been around a while and Shelton’s one of the great young players in the country. There’s no off days in any lineup in this league.”
The only A&M run came in the bottom of the sixth by a solo shot to deep left-center by LaViolette, the freshman’s 15th home run of the year. Not long after his hit, however, the game was halted by a heavy rain and then lightning delay. No additional locker room heroics could salvage any more runs for A&M and the Aggies fell quietly in the run-rule loss.
“The Crimson Tide put it on us,” Schlossnagle said. “They beat us in every phase. You know, just trying to get through the game once we got down a little bit with some guys who hadn’t pitched in a while. Give all the credit to Alabama, we’ve just got to be ready to go tomorrow.”
A&M will look to secure the series in the Sunday rubber match with first pitch set for 3 p.m.

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