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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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Photo by CJ Smith
Graduate OF Hayden Schott (5) reacts to the win after Texas A&M’s game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

It took senior C Jackson Appel and graduate LF Hayden Schott a combined 11 years to experience the Lone Star Showdown firsthand, but they didn’t wait long to make up for lost time.

Texas A&M baseball’s duo of Ivy League transfers totaled five hits and five runs batted in as the Aggies took down No. 24 Texas, 9-2, on Tuesday, March 5. The victory served as A&M’s first ranked win of the season and came behind enemy lines at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.

After a childhood of watching the state’s biggest rivalry with his parents, Sharon and Eric, Appel earned his first true taste of it while commanding a pitching staff that held the Longhorns to six hits and 12 strikeouts.

“It’s an awesome rivalry,” Appel said. “Both my parents are Aggies. I used to be an Aggie fan back when they played football and baseball every weekend.”

A Houston native, Appel played at Penn for four seasons before returning to his home state this season. He left his mark on the game — and the visiting bullpen — with a two-run home run in the seventh inning that put to bed any hope of a Texas comeback.

“That was a fun one,” Appel said. “That was only my second at-bat righty this year. I was excited to hit righty and got a pitch I could handle. We’ll take it.”

While Appel certainly gained some excitement from his second home run of the season, it may not have matched that of Schott on second base.

“I’m sprinting and I get to coach [Nolan] Cain at third base and he’s screaming, ‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ so I take a minute to just stop, fist pump and scream in our dugout,” Schott said. “Just to see [Appel] hit that bomb, it was unbelievable.”

Appel’s long ball followed the lead of Montgomery, who gave the Aggies an early spark with a two-run homer in the first inning. The Stanford transfer’s deep fly avenged sophomore CF Jace LaViolette after he was nailed with a pitch on the elbow just 10 pitches into the game.

Montgomery’s home run was one of empathy just four days removed from being nailed in the upper back twice versus Arizona State. He earned payback in the second game of the series with a grand slam against the Sun Devils.

“I think that’ll be his role the rest of the year,” Schott said. “Really excited to see what he does with that role.”

Schott’s three-RBI showing displayed the role he could hold within A&M’s lineup this season following five years at Columbia. An inning after the Longhorns cut the Aggies’ lead in half at 2-1 with an RBI sacrifice fly, Schott restored it with an RBI single in the fifth.

He followed up the single with a well-struck ball to left field in the seventh that had the look of a routine flyout. Texas redshirt senior LF Porter Brown’s glove had other ideas, though, as it popped out of the leather just ahead of the warning track.

The error allowed freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac to race home, with LaViolette crossing the plate one batter later on senior 1B Ted Burton’s sacrifice fly. Schott put a bow on the night with a two-RBI single to right field in the ninth.

His two hits matched his output from the Aggies’ weekend in Arlington, where he went 2-for-14 with six strikeouts over three games.

“We need him to be the guy batting behind those two horses in LaViolette and Montgomery to drive in runs, because they’re going to be on base a lot,” Schlossnagle said.

Nine of the Maroon and White’s 10 hits came from newcomers to the rivalry, with Montgomery and Grahovac adding two apiece. For junior RHP Josh Stewart, the game didn’t serve as an introduction to the rivalry, but rather a homecoming.

He made his return to Disch-Falk Field after spending his freshman campaign in the opposite bullpen as a Longhorn. The Texas transfer faced just one batter on Tuesday but made the most of it with a strikeout to end the seventh.

Stewart made up a small part of A&M’s quartet of pitchers that kept Texas’ bats in check. Senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck came home with the win for his 3.2 frames of relief, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts.

After being tabbed with the loss in last season’s defeat by the Longhorns, sophomore LHP Shane Sdao emphatically shut the door on the Aggies’ fifth win over the last six meetings in the series, tallying six punchouts over the final two innings.

By then, much of the regular season record 8,060 in attendance had returned to the parking garage. In the years to follow, fans of both teams won’t have to circle just one day on the calendar for the rivalry, but a whole weekend instead, as the Longhorns join the SEC next season.

“I think our guys did a great job of thriving on [the crowd], just playing like it was any ballgame,” Schott said. “Obviously, there’s a rivalry there, but our guys came out and did what we do, which is play good baseball, play sound baseball and it was electric.”

In a short turnaround, the Aggies return to the diamond versus Texas Southern on Wednesday, March 6 at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park at 6 p.m.

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    TOM DEANMar 6, 2024 at 9:35 am