Story Poster
Jim Schlossnagle
Jace LaViolette
Texas A&M Baseball

Jace LaViolette's historic three-homer night levels series in Starkville

May 19, 2023

Press conference video courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

Game #54: Texas A&M 6, Mississippi State 4
Records: Texas A&M (31-23, 13-16), Mississippi State (27-25, 9-20)
WP: Chris Cortez (3-0)
LP: Aaron Nixon (2-2)
Save: Evan Aschenbeck (2)
Box Score

The outcome was either going to induce a sigh of relief or a sigh of grief for Texas A&M.

Treading between both extremes in a hostile environment proved to be an arduous endeavor.

Until Jace LaViolette came to the rescue.

More than once, too.

Three times, in fact.

With A&M’s postseason aspirations in serious jeopardy, LaViolette took matters into his own hands by pounding three homers and heroically guiding A&M to a suspenseful 6-4 victory over Mississippi State on Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.

What LaViolette accomplished was more than remarkable.

It was historic.

Blowing another early lead, the Aggies found themselves desperate once again in the ninth.

With one out, LaViolette stepped to the plate having already proved himself to be a nightmare for Mississippi State pitching, and he made them pay once again.

“That was a feeling I’ll never forget… That’s unbelievable. To be honest, I didn’t know what the record was. I don’t even know what to say, honestly. That’s unbelievable, but there’s still a lot more work to do and still got to come out here tomorrow and do the same thing and win.”
- A&M outfielder Jace LaViolette

Obliterating a 2-2 offering from Aaron Nixon for a go-ahead three-run blast, LaViolette proudly trotted around the bases for the third time and made history by becoming the outright owner of A&M’s program record for the most home runs by a freshman (18) in a season.

His second bomb of the evening — a solo shot in the third inning — tied Aggie legend John Byington’s previous record set in 1987.

His valiant swing in the ninth officially surpassed “Big Bad John” in the history books and guided the Aggies to a much-needed win.

It was the Katy native’s third multi-home run game of the season and comes one week after Trevor Werner recorded the first three-homer outing by an Aggie since 1999.

“That was a feeling I’ll never forget… That’s unbelievable,” LaViolette said. “To be honest, I didn’t know what the record was. I don’t even know what to say, honestly. That’s unbelievable, but there’s still a lot more work to do and still got to come out here tomorrow and do the same thing and win.”

History aside, LaViolette provided exactly what A&M needed after being walked off in the series opener.

Now sitting at 13-16 in the Southeastern Conference with the regular-season finale on deck, many believe 14 wins in the league is enough for A&M to earn an at-large NCAA regional bid. 

Of course, securing the series win on Saturday would put them right on target for gaining admission into the field of 64.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Making his eighth start of the season, Justin Lamkin lasted five innings and struck out six. 

“Coming into the game, I talked to coach [Schlossnagle] yesterday, and we kind of talked about no regrets. We really have nothing to lose,” LaViolette said. “Like, what is there to lose? It’s baseball, It’s literally what I’ve been doing my whole life. I had to put it into the perspective of I’m here playing baseball. I’m not starving. I’m not about to die. None of my family is about to die. 

“And that really helped me out today, truthfully. I just had to realize it’s the game of baseball. Stay calm. Stay in the moment, and most of all, have fun, and that’s what I tried to do today.”

LaViolette did the lion’s share of the work for A&M.

His first blast opened the game as he shattered an 81 mph breaking ball over right field that forged an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.

A&M starter Justin Lamkin whiffed his first batter but soon found himself imperiled. Sandwiching a walk between two singles, the freshman left-hander nearly made a daring escape but ultimately allowed a bases-loaded walk.

The Bulldogs then leveled the score on a sacrifice fly.

However, Lamkin promptly regained control of his fastball and sat Mississippi State down in order before LaViolette’s third-inning encore equaled Byington’s mark.

Lamkin stretched his outing to five innings of work, striking out six batters and providing much-needed length through a tiring, yet effective, 102-pitch effort.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Accounting for all six of A&M’s runs on Friday, Jace LaViolette now has 57 RBI this season.

Shane Sdao was summoned next and lasted two innings, yielding four hits and two runs — including a game-tying RBI single in the seventh.

A sigh of grief over a sigh of relief seemed imminent for the Aggies after LaViolette’s near-grand slam died on the warning track in right field and left the bases loaded in the top of the inning.

In the eighth, anxiety peaked as Mississippi State took its first lead of the ballgame when Ross Highfill singled through the right side to plate Luke Hancock.

But fortunately for the Aggies, LaViolette did it again and made history.

Evan Aschenbeck solidified the win by retiring the final two Bulldogs and was awarded his second save of the year.

“[LaViolette’s] obviously a very unique player. We need more like him, that’s for sure,” A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “There’s not too many of those guys out there that come to college. We’ve all seen his growth throughout the course of the season, and now he’s playing his best baseball.”

For the sake of their season, the Aggies hope their best baseball is still ahead — not only for LaViolette but the entire team.

They’ll need it in tomorrow’s all-important 2 p.m. CT rubber match.

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Jace LaViolette's historic three-homer night levels series in Starkville

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jace long ball lavilolette is a beast. wow
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