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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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Texas A&M baseball splits doubleheader, loses series to Penn

Photo by Photo by Cameron Johnson

Graduate student infielder Kole Kaler (1) prepares to throw the ball at Olsen Field on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

After suffering its first loss of the season to Penn and seeing inclement weather force Game 2’s postponement, Texas A&M baseball, along with the sunny blue skies, returned with a twin bill on Sunday, Feb. 27.
The story of the day was, without a doubt, the starting pitching. Junior righty Micah Dallas had a masterful eight-inning start in Game 1 of the doubleheader for which he earned SEC Pitcher of the Week honors. In contrast, Game 2 featured eight different Aggie hurlers. This resulted in a 5-0 shutout in the first game of the day, and an 8-5 loss in the second.
However, in the latter half of the doubleheader, freshman lefty Ryan Prager pitched great in his second career start by going 5.2 innings and logging another quality start in which he allowed only three men to reach base with eight strikeouts on 95 pitches. Coach Jim Schlossnagle said both his starters pitched brilliantly, and that they both gave the team great chances to win the game.
“Micah [Dallas] and [Ryan] Prager were both outstanding,” Schlossnagle said. “We had great starting pitching.”
But there was a definite difference in each of the games in terms of overall performance, specifically from the bullpen, that led to the first series loss of the year for A&M.
Game 2
Dallas, who came into the day at 17th among active Division I strikeout leaders, made his second start as an Aggie. In Game 2 against Fordham, Dallas tossed 6.1 innings and earned the win in his maroon and white debut.
He worked a clean first inning against Penn, then A&M came right at the Quakers with a three-run bottom half of the first to set the tone and give Dallas some room to work with on the mound. Each man in the batting order came to the plate, with sophomore first baseman Jack Moss, junior designated hitter Austin Bost and graduate catcher Troy Claunch logging RBIs.
Dallas, who worked with a fast rhythm and didn’t waste time between pitches, allowed a leadoff hit to start the game and then proceeded to retire nine of the next ten men faced. Six of those were strikeout victims as Dallas already surpassed five total strikeouts in his first start.
A&M stranded a runner in the third and fourth with the score still locked at 3-0, Aggies.
But Dallas stayed tremendously hot with 1-2-3 fifth, sixth and seventh innings as he had set down 14 straight and was up to eight punchouts and allowed only two men to reach base going into the stretch. Then, in the eighth inning, Dallas set down the side in order once again with two more strikeouts as his fabulous day came to an end.
He tossed 97 pitches, logged an even 10 strikeouts in his eight innings of work, allowed one hit and walk apiece and induced 11 groundouts.
Amid Dallas’ dominance, Claunch and junior outfielder Brett Minnich tacked a pair of runs in the bottom half of the fifth with an RBI double and single to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
The first six men in Schlossnagle’s batting order each had at least one hit in the win, with Moss and graduate outfielder Dylan Rock each having two. Four different Aggies logged at least one RBI, with Claunch having two, four were walked at least once and three had at least one double.
Junior lefty Joseph Menefee took Dallas’ place on the rubber to close out the game and did so easily, dispatching the first two men via punchouts and the last batter with a groundout. That made it a consecutive 20 Quakers retired.
The 5-0 win was the fifth win of the year for A&M.
“I thought our guys came out ready to play in the first game,” Schlossnagle said.
Game 3
The southpaw Prager would try to follow Dallas’ gem with one of his own and, more importantly, secure the second series win for the Aggies this season. Schlossnagle rolled out virtually the same lineup as Game 2, but with Claunch at first base instead and penciled in junior Taylor Smith behind the plate.
A&M was first on the board in the second inning off an error that allowed Minnich to cross home. He doubled two batters prior to get into scoring position. Meanwhile, Prager’s first three innings on the bump went extremely well. He had allowed only one man to reach base and had already punched out five Quakers.
Prager was going strong and was one pitch away from getting out of the fourth inning when Penn’s best returning hitter, sophomore outfielder Wyatt Henseler, hit a looping fly ball out to the right field foul pole. It was initially called foul, but after a short review, changed to a solo home run to tie the ballgame at one run apiece with the middle innings underway.
Claunch built upon his RBI total on the day with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Moss and put the lead back in A&M’s favor. He also forced the Quakers to go to the bullpen for the second time of the game with runners on the corners and two outs.
On the second pitch of the subsequent at-bat, Penn’s catcher got crossed up and allowed a passed ball which scored Bost from third base. On the next pitch, sophomore second baseman Ryan Targac switched hit from the left side and capped a single up the middle, bringing home the fourth A&M run of the game.
Each team scored a run thereafter to keep the difference at three, but the Quakers managed to load the bases with one out for Henseler in the top of the eighth. He walked in a run against the freshman A&M pitcher Robert Hogan to make it a two-run game, but A&M managed to get out of the jam with a 5-3 lead.
With Menefee looking to secure the win and save the opportunity, he allowed an RBI single to make it a one-run game. The next three men singled to load the bases, and Menefee was pulled from the game.
Sophomore righty Alex Magers came in as the seventh Aggie pitcher of the game, and gave up a bases-clearing double to relinquish the lead to Penn, who led 7-5 on one swing of the bat. The Quakers then proceeded to add one more for good measure.
“You can sit there and stare at the bullpen, and the bullpen certainly fell apart there at the end, but it all adds on top of itself,” Schlossnagle said. “I am so proud of Menefee and how he competed today. I can’t remember the last time that I used a pitcher twice in a day in February.”
However, A&M couldn’t stage a comeback in the near-five-hour affair and fell to 5-2 on the season after Penn scored seven unanswered runs.
“We’ve got a long way to go, obviously,” Schlossnagle said. “[It’s] disappointing. We just left a lot of runs on bases.”
The maroon and white are back at it from Blue Bell Park this Tuesday, March 1 against Houston Baptist for the midweek matchup. First pitch is slotted for 6:30 p.m. and can be watched on SEC Network+.

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