Story Poster
Jim Schlossnagle
Jace LaViolette
Evan Aschenbeck
Texas A&M Baseball

Three-run ninth helps No. 5 Texas A&M salvage series finale, 5-4

February 26, 2023

Game #7: No. 5 Texas A&M 5, Portland 4
Records: Texas A&M (4-3), Portland (5-2)
WP: Evan Aschenbeck (1-0)
LP: Peter Allegro (1-1)
Box Score

Much-needed Sunday afternoon magic.

After dropping the first two games of the series to Portland, No. 5 Texas A&M battled back to take Sunday’s afternoon finale in walk-off fashion, 5-4.

“Excited for our team,” A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Excited for the crowd. Happy for the Corps, and the crowd played a big role in the game as long as they keep cheering for our guys.”

The Aggies honored the Corps of Cadets at A&M on Sunday, wearing Corps-themed uniforms. In Corps-like fashion, A&M worked hard and came back as they underwent adversity.

Portland held a 4-2 lead headed into the bottom of the ninth, but the Aggies put together a much-needed rally. Pinch-hitter Tab Tracy and shortstop Hunter Haas both reached to begin the inning via a single and a walk, respectively.

First baseman Jack Moss singled up the middle, driving in Tracy and shrinking the Pilot lead to 4-3. The speedy Travis Chestnut pinch-ran for Moss.

After Trevor Werner struck out swinging, freshman outfielder Jace LaViolette doubled down the right-field line, plating both runners and winning the game.

“I knew I was going to get heaters. I wanted to see one. I knew he had nothing that could beat me. … And then he hung a curveball, and I just tried to put my best swing on it and get the result I could get.”
- A&M LF Jace LaViolette

“During that last at-bat, I knew I was going to get heaters,” LaViolette said. “I wanted to see one. I knew he had nothing that could beat me. … And then he hung a curveball, and I just tried to put my best swing on it and get the result I could get.”

It was an important result for LaViolette and the Aggies. LaViolette was 0-for-8 on the weekend before going 3-for-5 on Sunday and helping his team avoid the sweep.

A&M starter Chris Cortez lasted five innings but gave up four runs while striking out six Pilots.

“I feel like Chris did great, and if we can play offense better, as we will, we’ll see what role he stays in,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s a good one.”

Junior left-hander Evan Aschenbeck relieved Cortez out of the bullpen, tossing four scoreless innings on three hits and earning the win.

“You got to start thinking about that guy in a lot of different roles,” Schlossnagle said of Aschenbeck. “You don’t know until you put them out there. He has thrown strikes since he’s been here, but honestly, we’ve gotten great swings on him. He’s never touched 92 mph, so you don’t know until you put them in the game.”

Although Schlossnagle said Aschenbeck had never reached 92 mph before, he did during Sunday’s matchup.

“When you have 5,000 people, it gets you going, and it’s a great feeling,” Aschenbeck said.

Despite being a junior, this was the first time Aschenbeck had seen action for the Aggies.

“It’s my first debut, but I’ve been practicing this and doing mental reps and staying in the game,” Aschenbeck said. “That’s what you have to do if you’re not getting playing time. Just stay in the game, and you will get called.”

CJ Smith, TexAgs
Aschenbeck kept the Aggies in the game with four scoreless innings.

Aschenbeck kept Pilot hitters off-balance by mixing in his fastball and slider while also doing a good job of locating his pitches and filling up the strike zone.

“You don’t win with stuff,” Aschenbeck said. “You win with location, and that’s what I did today.”

Another key factor in the victory was the defensive plays by Hunter Haas at shortstop, making multiple diving stops in the infield as well as a diving catch in shallow left field. Haas also went 1-for-2 at the plate and walked three times to complete a 6-for-9 weekend.

“He’s played outstanding,” Schlossnagle said. “He’s the big heartbeat of our team, and so glad he’s here.”

Despite dropping the series to Portland, the Aggies did not play to Schlossnagle’s definition of “bad” but struggled to get timely hitting.

“I define playing bad as free bases, making errors, not throwing strikes, which we did a little bit of that,” Schlossnagle said. “Hitting is just such the toughest part of the game, and it can snowball on you so fast, and you really just need one big hit, which maybe this will be it, to kind of get you going. I really don’t think we played that bad. I just think Portland played better, and they played better for almost 27 innings.”

The Aggies will look to carry over the momentum of a walk-off win into Tuesday night as they host Houston Christian at 6 p.m. CT.

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Three-run ninth helps No. 5 Texas A&M salvage series finale, 5-4

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