Story Poster
Jim Schlossnagle
Will Johnston
Ryan Prager
Ryan Targac
Texas A&M Baseball

Atypical Sunday secures sweep of State as No. 10 A&M's surge continues

May 15, 2022

Game #49: No. 10 Texas A&M 8, Mississippi State 2
Records: Texas A&M (33-16, 17-10), Mississippi State (25-27, 9-18)
WP: Robert Hogan (3-1)
LP: Cade Smith (4-3)
Save: Will Johnston (2)
Box Score

Churches were open and Chick-fil-A was closed, but it didn’t seem like Sunday at Blue Bell Park.

Texas A&M pitchers typically have struggled in Southeastern Conference baseball games on Sunday.

Yet, in an atypical showing, Ryan Prager, Robert Hogan, and Will Johnston combined to allow just one earned run in an 8-2 victory to close out a series sweep over Mississippi State (25-27, 9-18).

A&M (33-16, 17-10) had not swept an SEC series since 2019 against Kentucky. It was the Aggies' first sweep since taking three straight from Fordham to start the 2022 season.

“I think the most important thing for us is we had to prove to ourselves that we could win three games in a row. To win a regional, to win a conference tournament you’re going to have to do that.”
- A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle

Trevor Werner and Austin Bost each drove in a pair of runs, and Ryan Targac went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI as A&M worked over seven Mississippi State pitchers.

Still, the pitchers were different in the victory. 

Prager allowed just one unearned run in 4.1 innings. Hogan (3-1) gave up a run in 2.1 innings. Johnston, who came on with two out in the seventh, retired all seven hitters he faced — five by strikeout.

“If you told me beforehand that we’re going to give up two runs, I’d say we’re going to be in pretty good shape,” Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I thought Will [Johnston] really did an awesome job. You can kind of see him gaining more and more confidence. That’s a good sign for us because he’s really good.”

Previously, A&M had given up an average of 9.4 runs in SEC Sunday games against South Carolina (9), Arkansas (10), Alabama (8), Auburn (13) and LSU (7).

The visiting Bulldogs managed only six hits. Only twice did they get two hits in the same inning. They left eight runners on base.

“The pitching staff … we’ve talked the past couple of days and the past couple of weeks about how things have been going,” Prager said. “It’s not who we want to be. It’s not what we want our identity to be. 

“We had to make a conscious decision for things to change. That started mentality-wise. Kind of brought that in today. It’s a great feeling for all of us. We can celebrate today that we did our job. We gave our team a chance, and we just have to keep that going for the next week at Ole Miss and then to SEC and postseason play.”

A throwing error enabled Mississippi State to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth.

However, A&M also took advantage of errors to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.

Brett Minnich went from first base to home on an errant throw that went into right field. Targac followed with a single to drive in Troy Claunch. Targac eventually came home on a Werner sacrifice fly.

The Aggies also scored three runs in the sixth via RBI singles by Kole Kaler and Werner and a sacrifice fly by Dylan Rock.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Will Johnston picked up his second save of the weekend and season with a career-best five strikeouts. 

That was more than enough run support for the Aggies pitchers, who were not threatened again until the seventh inning.

Hogan allowed a triple, a base hit and a walk, but with two on and two out, Schlossnagle called on Johnston to protect the Aggies’ 6-2 lead. Johnston promptly struck out Mississippi State designated hitter Hunter Hines.

“The kid [Hines] was sitting on a first-pitch breaking ball because that’s all we threw him the other day,” Schlossnagle said. “We spit a fastball right by him. I think that sped him up a little bit. Then, [Johnston] was just outstanding the rest of the way.”

Johnston stormed through the following two innings with four strikeouts. He did not allow the ball to be hit out of the infield.

“I truly believe that I have what it takes to do what I want to do in this game,” Johnston said. "It really is just confidence and going out and executing. It’s just what coach Coach Schloss preaches to me all the time.”

Even though Johnston was dominant, Schlossnagle was still relieved that Bost delivered a two-run double to plate Jack Moss and Rock in the eighth.

“That double in the bottom of the eighth was huge because I don’t trust anything with the way the wind blows here,” Schlossnagle said. “I’m real proud of our guys. It’s hot. It’s been a long weekend. I think Claunch was about out of gas. We need some rest and then get ready to go to Oxford.”

The Aggies face Ole Miss in their final SEC series next week. Then, they head to the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Schlossnagle said sweeping Mississippi State was vital if just for the Aggies to prove they could string three wins together.

“I think the most important thing for us is we had to prove to ourselves that we could win three games in a row,” Schlossnagle said. “To win a regional, to win a conference tournament, you’re going to have to do that. That was good for us. We hadn’t swept anybody since the first weekend against Fordham.

“It was good for us to get that accomplished.”

Discussion from...

Atypical Sunday secures sweep of State as No. 10 A&M's surge continues

5,919 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by TheChameleon
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Correction...we are 17-10 in the SEC!!

Ok in the body of the article. but says 16-10 at the top header
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Awesome to finish off the sweep. Like a lot of them were saying, it's nice to prove to yourselves that you can do it... And it was in pretty convincing fashion. Businesslike and the pitching was fantastic. Approach was very good at the plate also. Just a really solid overall win.

Great outing for Prager in this one. He was spotting his fastball and it had life... Got a good number of swings & misses on the FB. Changeup was good & was landing his breaker for strikes. Just working quick, locating well and mixing it up. And that was against an offense that had been really tough to deal with all weekend prior. Prager's progressing well... Think he's understanding how to go after hitters. Very excited about him moving forward. Hogan did a nice job coming in & stranding the runner in the 5th. Slider was sharp and fastball had juice... Threw strikes. Johnston was obviously phenomenal. Great action on his breaking stuff, was putting it exactly where he wanted. It was basically unhittable... Had great tempo on the mound also. Showing a lot of confidence. Kaler's play at SS up the middle was fabulous... Picture perfect.

At bats overall were good. 6 BB's and only 4 K's, really nice approach... We were patient all weekend and made them come into the zone. Targac had a great game. For a guy with huge raw power he doesn't try to do too much on a lot of his swings... Nice and easy, will go the other way. He can really hit... What a season he's had. Werner and Rock had solid AB's and Bost with the big insurance double late. We made them work overall and continue to get on base and do damage.

Any sweep in conference play is super impressive and we were gritty in getting it done... Again, that is definitely part of this team's DNA. Have shown it all year and this group knows how to win... It's been such a good year and now the postseason is in sight. Extremely difficult series coming now with Ole Miss really clicking... That stadium will be rocking and it's going to be a great test & experience to get ready for the SEC tourney then regionals. Can't wait to see all of it... Going to be crazy fun.
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