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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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Targac’s return to lineup leads A&M to 21-2 win over Wagner

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Photo by Lana Cheatham
Texas A&M outfielder Braden Montgomery (6) during Texas A&M’s game against Wagner on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at Blue Bell Park. (Lana Cheatham/The Battalion)

Texas A&M baseball and Wagner each emptied their benches on Sunday, Feb. 25, albeit for different reasons.

A 21-2, seven-inning offensive explosion by the Aggies allowed them to dig into the depth chart with five substitutions, while the Seahawks cycled through 10 pitchers in the finale of A&M’s series sweep at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

The matchup featured several milestones as three players picked up their first career hits, while coach Jim Schlossnagle picked up win No. 900 of a career that has seen him lead UNLV, TCU and A&M.

The Maroon and White’s strong pitching carried over from the day prior, holding Wagner to just one hit while the Aggies rattled off 15 of their own. Junior RHP Tanner Jones made his first appearance as an Aggie after trading in his Jacksonville State threads in the summer.

Despite operating on an innings restriction while nursing what he called a “lat cramp,” Jones made the most of his opportunity, facing the minimum over two innings while striking out three batters.

“It felt great just to see a different face in the box,” Jones said. “For the past six months, we’ve seen the same faces and the same jerseys … I felt good with all [of my pitches] today.”

Jones was followed with an equally surgical performance from sophomore LHP Shane Sdao, who added four punchouts in two hitless frames. Wagner didn’t put a runner on until the fifth inning, when freshman RHP Isaac Morton loaded the bases for sophomore 3B Zack Kent’s two-run double.

A&M’s earned run average remained the best in the nation at 0.76, a feat that has been accomplished with the effective starting pitching it lacked last season.

“It doesn’t compare at all [to last season],” Schlossnagle said. “I love all the guys that have pitched for us in the last couple years, but we’re just throwing so many strikes. That shouldn’t change, no matter who we play … We’re still a few steps away from what I would consider upper-end, SEC elite pitching that some of the more established programs in this league have, but I think we’re heading in that direction.”

Kent’s two-bagger was all the Seahawks could muster opposite the Aggies’ own scoring showcase, which was spurred by two fixtures in last season’s team.

Senior 1B Ryan Targac made his return to the starting lineup after a three-game absence and offered Schlossnagle good reason to keep him in it. The Aggies’ 12th Man brought in a team-high five runs batted in off of three hits, including a two-run homer that kickstarted the scoring in the second inning.

“You just have to understand your role sometimes,” Targac said. “Whenever you come to the ballpark, you could be playing one spot, you could be riding the bench. Most importantly, you just have to be an awesome teammate, just supporting your guys. One through nine, and even the guys on the bench, that’s what we strive to do.”

Sophomore CF Jace LaViolette complemented with four RBIs, raising his team-high to 14 through seven games. LaViolette followed up Targac’s second inning blast with a bases-clearing triple down the right field line before an RBI groundout in the fourth.

Junior RF Braden Montgomery tallied the game’s second long ball in the fourth inning, a two-run blast for his third of the year. In total, 11 Aggies notched hits, including all but two starters. Wagner’s four errors didn’t help its cause as they led to six unearned runs.

“To win a ballgame is to score runs, so one through nine, I believe we can do that,” Targac said. “The top half of the order is dangerous, the bottom half is dangerous. I think just sticking to our approach, that’s all we have to do.”

A&M returns to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, Feb. 27 to take on Lamar at 6 p.m. Junior RHP Chris Cortez is slated to start on the mound.

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About the Contributor
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
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