Story Poster
Jim Schlossnagle
Ryan Prager
Braden Montgomery
Texas A&M Baseball

Prager shines as No. 8 Aggies bludgeon McNeese on Opening Day, 15-0

February 16, 2024

Game 1: No. 8 Texas A&M 15, McNeese State 0
Records: Texas A&M (1-0), McNeese State (0-1)
WP: Ryan Prager (1-0)
LP: Zach Voss (0-1)
Box Score

Opening Day serves as a perfect opportunity for new introductions.

Ryan Prager viewed it as his moment for a grand re-introduction.

Taking the mound in a collegiate game for the first time in 604 days, the left-hander dominated McNeese State as No. 8 Texas A&M cruised to a 15-0 win on Friday night in front of 7,087 at Blue Bell Park.

Prager Last pitched against Oklahoma in the Men’s College World Series on June 22, 2022, and missed all of 2023 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

After that lengthy recovery, he made the most of his Opening Day start.

“Anxious, nervous, excited,” Prager said of his emotions. “All of them running together, and they all feel the same, but more so just feeling grateful.

“When you’re told that you’re going to miss a year and it’s almost 600 days since you’ve pitched, you just have to turn to being grateful to be out there. You kind of get a second love for it and just treat every moment like it’s your last.”

Prager punched out nine with an impressive fastball-slider-changeup trio while allowing just two total base runners and one hit.

“When you’re told that you’re going to miss a year and it’s almost 600 days since you’ve pitched, you just have to turn to being grateful to be out there. You kind of get a second love for it and just treat every moment like it’s your last.”
- Texas A&M LHP Ryan Prager

“I felt great throughout the day,” Prager said. “Once I got here, it became more calm to be around everybody. Definitely, there were a few moments in there it was like, ‘Whoa, you’re back.’ 

“To get the first out was a welcome back. The first punchout, welcome back. It was great, and then after the first, we just went.”

Befuddled Cowboys might have sighed a false sense of relief when Prager was lifted after five scoreless frames and A&M leading 11-0.

“That is who he has been, and he had plenty of pitches left in him, but after that long inning in the bottom of the fifth, I just felt it wasn’t worth it,” said Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “Prager did his job, and we’ll get him back out there next week.”

With his in-game reps over, Prager still got additional work down in the bullpen to build on an extremely efficient 58-pitch outing.

“I went down just to throw a few more to get the pitch count up there just for that training effect of it,” Prager explained.

On a night when Mike Elko hurled a strike for the ceremonial first pitch, pitching coach Max Weiner’s staff made quite the first impression.

Picking up where Prager left off, Isaac Morton and Brad Rudis tossed two innings each, striking out four and two, respectively, to bring the Aggies’ opening-night total to 15.

After setting a program record for walks last season, A&M issued just one on Friday.

“I’ll sleep better tonight, but I’m instantly thinking about tomorrow,” Schlossnagle joked. “(Justin) Lamkin [Saturday’s starting pitcher] is a strike-thrower, but it’s going to take a lot of pitchers.

“I was super excited for (Weiner) to get his first college game under the belt and throw a shutout. High expectations now around here.”

Fifteen was a reoccurring number.

At least on night one, A&M’s offensive lived up to expectations.

Zoe Kelton, TexAgs
LaViolette’s first homer of the night left the bat at an exit velocity of 114 mph.

The Aggies scored 15 runs on 17 hits and batted around twice — the third and eighth innings respectively.

They clubbed five homers as a team, none more special than Braden Montgomery’s first-inning blast.

“You don’t write up too many storybooks better than that,” Schlossnagle said.

On a 3-2 pitch in his first at-bat as an Aggie, Montgomery launched a Zach Voss heater 414 feet to right-center field to put A&M ahead 1-0.

“That was awesome. It was awesome,” Montgomery said. “We’re playing the same game. It was just a lot more excitement with the 12th Man showing up tonight, so that was sick. It was cool to have that happen. Now that it’s over, it’s on to the next one.”

Not to be outdone by the Stanford transfer, fellow All-American Jace LaViolette tee’d off on a pair of two-run bombs in the third and fifth innings.

Both of LaViolette’s home runs were part of five-run outbursts.

“All I know is that every time I see him out there, he finds a way to get it done,” Montgomery said of LaViolette. “The guy is special.”

Also making their A&M debuts, first baseman Blake Binderup and shortstop Ali Camarillo provided a pair of exclamation points on back-to-back jacks in a four-run eighth.

All that offense helped give Prager & Co. plenty of confidence.

“It’s always easier to pitch when you’ve got a five-run lead,” Prager said. “We know what they’re capable of. They do their thing.”

The large lead also allowed Schlossnagle to get an early look at the depth of his bench.

From the A&M starting nine, only Binderup and Camarillo played all nine frames as three McNeese relievers behind Voss struggled to keep the Aggie bats at bay.

Of the 16 Aggies to get a plate appearance, only one failed to reach first base.

Zoe Kelton, TexAgs
A freshman from Minnesota, Isaac Morton did not allow a hit during his two scoreless frames.

“Everybody wants to play. All those guys want to play. I want to see them play,” Schlossnagle said. “Any time we can get those guys at-bats so they can break through the jitters of getting to play.

“It was all our way tonight. Everything happened good for us, but baseball is a rough, tough game. It can spin us in a heartbeat, but I’m glad those guys got some experience because we’re going to need all of them.”

Binderup, Gavin Grahovac, Caden Sorrell and Jack Bell all made their collegiate debuts. Binderup finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Grahovac and Sorrell picked up RBI singles, and Bell drove in a run on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.

Transfers Hayden Schott and Ted Burton enjoyed multi-hit performances, with the latter finishing a homer shy of the cycle.

“It’s good that they start off confident because you know the game is going to get them at some point,” Schlossnagle said.

After the offensive annihilation, Schlossnagle said that the goal is to find ways to repeat this initial success.

After all, it was just Opening Day.

“I’m fired up about day one, but we got to start back over tomorrow,” Schlossnagle said.

Now that the pomp and circumstance of the grand intros and re-acquaintances are out of the way — and colder temps and stronger winds on the way — it’s back to work on Saturday.

The Aggies and Cowboys continue their three-game series at 2 p.m. CT.

Discussion from...

Prager shines as No. 8 Aggies bludgeon McNeese on Opening Day, 15-0

88,620 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by Rongagin71
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Randy Rhodes
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I feel bad for Montgomery having to bat behind Jace, he's gonna come up to bat with the bases empty alot
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Nice game wrap
TAMU ‘98 Ole Miss ‘21
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I was surprised to see Jace batting second,
but assume this is to make the pitchers throw strikes.
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