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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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Two big innings power A&M to run-rule win over Florida

Photo by Photo by A Nguyen

Senior OF Jordan Thompson (31) runs to home plate during Texas A&M’s game against Tarleton at Olsen Field on Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

After a close loss the night before, Texas A&M baseball bit the No. 4 Florida Gators back in a big way at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 6.
The Aggies used two big innings to club their way to a 15-2 run-rule win over the Gators to set up a Sunday rubber match. With 12 hits, including three players recording 3-hit performances, the offensive production and quality pitching was refreshing for the whole team, but perhaps none more so than for senior 2B Austin Bost.
A .360 hitter last season, Bost entered the contest batting a mere .220 while starting every game for A&M this season. That number may be deceiving, though, as coach Jim Schlossnagle has consistently described the Groves native as the victim of great defense and hitting to the wrong spots while being robbed of hits.
“It’s tough, obviously, coming off last year, don’t want to think about last year, but it’s tough when stuff’s not going your way,” Bost said. “You’re hitting balls hard right at people, and when you don’t hit balls hard, they’re out. It’s like a compound effect. You’ve just got to figure out a way to deal with it because it’s baseball.”
One hit the Gators couldn’t rob was Bost’s 3-run homer in a six-run sixth inning by the Aggies. Bost sent a 1-1 offering 370 feet off the protective netting in left field to put the maroon and white up 12-1 and put it in position for the run-rule victory. Bost finished the game 1-for-1 with four runs batted in on a walk, hit by pitch and sacrifice fly.
“It felt like a thousand pounds came off everybody’s shoulders when Bost finally saw one go out of the ballpark, so maybe that’ll spark him,” Schlossnagle said. “I called him in my office this morning and said, ‘I’m gonna make you take batting practice today with a weighted vest on’ … I said ‘because you’re playing with the entire weight of the season on your back.’”
The win was also the result of a productive outing by the pitching staff, as sophomore LHP Troy Wansing threw 3.2 scoreless frames with three hits, four walks and five strikeouts before sophomore RHP Chris Cortez earned the win with 2.1 frames of work with one run on a hit and two walks.
“The pitchers the past two days have been really fun to play behind, defensively,” junior SS Hunter Haas said. “Pounding the zone, getting action, so that’s what you want to play behind.”
The Gators picked up their only runs on sophomore 1B Jac Caglianone’s nation-leading 27th longball in the fifth and a wild pitch in the seventh that allowed junior PH Dale Thomas to dart home, with both runs coming with the game firmly in hand.
Haas kickstarted the Aggies’ big day in the third with a solo homer to the rec center past left field to put A&M up 1-0. The run proved to be the first of many, as the offensive onslaught began an inning later.
“We felt good about our approach last night as a team and how we played, it just didn’t turn out how we wanted to,” Haas said. “We just wanted to take the same aggressive approach on offense back to ‘em tonight.”
Bost took a pitch to his side to lead off the bottom of the fourth before freshman CF Kasen Wells singled and freshman C Max Kaufer drew a walk to load the bases and chase junior RHP Hurston Waldrep from the game. Haas welcomed redshirt sophomore RHP Blake Purnell to the rodeo with a double down the right field line to plate a pair of runs. After a walk, junior 3B Trevor Werner grounded out to first to score Kaufer and give A&M a 4-0 lead.
An intentional walk of freshman LF Jace LaViolette made the bases juiced for senior RF Jordan Thompson to rip a single to left field to score two more runs and chase Purnell from the game.
“I just beared down and told myself ‘you are not striking out,’” Thompson said. “‘If it’s close, doesn’t matter what pitch, you are touching it.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”
Redshirt sophomore RHP Nick Ficarrotta was greeted by junior DH Ryan Targac, who reached on an errant throw to first that allowed LaViolette to make it home. Bost then hit an RBI sacrifice fly before Wells grounded an RBI single to right field. Once the dust settled on the eight-run fourth, the Aggies led 9-0 after four frames.
A&M struck again in the sixth as Thompson led off with a single and Targac walked to set the stage for Bost’s cathartic 3-run blast.
“I was on second base and I was screaming for him,” Thompson said. “I knew the ball was gone, I don’t wanna take anything away from him, but the wind was blowing out. It was awesome to see, I was real happy for him and he needed it. He deserved it and finally got it.”
After one of the team’s senior leaders went deep, it was the youngster Wells that picked up his third hit of the game on a single to right field. The San Antonio native has reentered the Aggies’ lineup after senior OF Brett Minnich suffered a separated shoulder and could be a key piece in the outfield moving forward.
“We think a lot of him,” Schlossnagle said. “He doesn’t swing at bad pitches, he draws his walks. Florida’s really good at holding runners, but he can steal bases. He’s a good outfielder … In the fall, he didn’t do much, but in the spring, he really set the world on fire, at least against our pitchers.”
Haas collected his third hit of the game with a single before junior 1B Jack Moss laced an RBI single and Werner belted an RBI double to right field to make it a 14-1 game. Thompson capped the scoring with his third hit, an RBI single to left for his third hit.
“He keeps doing what he does,” Schlossnagle said. “I can tell you [coach] Mike Earley’s been fighting for him the whole year because he’s pretty much proven since he’s been here that if you just let him play and get his at-bats, then he produces.”
The deciding game between the Aggies and Gators is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 7, at Olsen Field. Now 27-20 overall and 10-13 in SEC play, A&M looks to pick up its play as the regular season nears a close and postseason conversations ramp up.
“No one has to tell [the team] what’s at stake,” Schlossnagle said. “No one has to tell them RPIs or conference tournaments or regional stuff like that, they all know. They all know that we’ve got to win ballgames. When we win, all that stuff will take care of itself.”
The Aggies’ starting pitcher is yet to be announced, while Caglianone will take the mound for the Gators with a 4-2 record and 5.11 ERA over 11 starts.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Schlossnagle said. “It’ll be another tough day in the SEC.”

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