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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Young pitching shines in win over Tarleton

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Freshman pitcher Chris Cortez (10) throws from the mound in Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022.

Wednesday night’s midweek matchup marked the start of an important week for Texas A&M baseball. After a 1-2 showing at the Frisco Classic, the Aggies wanted to get back in the win column and carry momentum into this weekend’s Santa Clara series at home. Conference play starts next weekend on the road at LSU, so starting the right way against Tarleton would be crucial.
Of course, having quality arms on the mound helps with that. Freshman righty Khristian Curtis, the starting pitcher, entered the night with an unblemished 2-0 record with zero runs allowed. As a whole, the Aggie pitching staff ranks fifth in the nation and leads the SEC in the fewest walks issued per nine innings with a 2.32 clip.
A&M first threatened by loading the bases with no outs in the second. Tarleton subsequently brought in a right-handed submariner to try and throw off the maroon and white’s momentum. Redshirt sophomore Zach Poe fanned the first two Aggies he faced but allowed the night’s first run after graduate third baseman Kole Kaler drew a 3-1 walk.
A bit later in the fourth inning, Tarleton brought home a tying run with a double off of Curtis. But, sophomore outfielder Logan Britt retorted on a go-ahead solo home run to straightaway center with two outs, giving the lead back to A&M in the middle innings.
Curtis started out the fifth, but, after allowing the tying run to reach third, Schlossnagle went to the bullpen for another freshman righty in Chris Cortez with one out in the inning. He induced a grounder to Kaler who easily threw out the Texan trying to run home for the second out, keeping the Aggies in front.
Curtis tossed 4.1 innings and gave up one run, his first of the year, but punched out seven Texans, which was more strikeouts than he tallied in his first two appearances combined. Curtis owns the second-best WHIP and opponent batting average and has the best ERA among Aggie starting pitchers.
Cortez, who ended with a pair of strikeouts, got the win for escaping the fifth inning jam and making quick work of the Texans in the sixth; he said his focus on throwing in a controlled manner was a reason for his clutch pitching.
“I have always been [fearless] and did not want to be known as the guy who threw balls,” Cortez said. “I know that with my ability I can throw strikes. I just changed my mindset and I just try to make people hit the ball.”
In the next half inning, Tarleton’s pitcher committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt with Kaler on third base, allowing him to score and give A&M a 3-1 advantage with the sixth frame coming up.
Kaler had quite the night, statistically speaking. The Hawaii transfer filled up the box score by hitting 2-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base. He had one of A&M’s four stolen bags with the Aggies as a team drawing seven bases on balls.
“The goal as the lead-off hitter of the game is to see some pitches and get on base,” Kaler said. “Obviously, everybody wants to get a hit; I want to get hits too. That does not change. [I’m] just sticking with the process and trying to stick with my routines.”
It became a trio of righty freshman pitchers for Schlossnagle in the seventh inning with Rawley Hector coming on for his second appearance. He last pitched in the season opener against Fordham for an inning.
Hector got a 1-2-3 top of the seventh and junior lefty Joseph Menefee worked a scoreless eighth. Junior outfielder Brett Minnich led off the bottom half with a base hit and as he stole second, Tarleton’s catcher’s throwdown was off into center field, which allowed Minnich to go from first to home.
With A&M up 4-1 and the ninth inning upcoming, Robert Hogan, the fourth freshman right-hander of the game, took the mound to attempt his second save of the season. He retired three of four Texans he faced to secure the win and an 8-4 record.
Schlossnagle said he made a point to put the pitchers who appeared in the loss to Wichita State, and liked what he saw from them in response.
“I thought it was super important to get [Joseph] Moo [Menefee] and [Robert] Hogan back in the game,” Schlossnagle said. “It did not go the way any of us wanted to on Sunday, and Menefee has been a big part of this program for a while. They did a nice job, and they need to do a nice job.”
A&M’s upcoming weekend series at Blue Bell Park against Santa Clara begins Friday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m on SEC Network+. The last and only time the two matched up was for a three-game set at A&M in 2004. The Aggies won all three games.

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