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Texas A&M Baseball

Jim Schlossnagle recounts successful opening weekend vs. McNeese

February 19, 2024

Texas A&M dazzled during Opening Weekend, outscoring McNeese State 31-1 at Blue Bell Park. On Monday's edition of TexAgs Radio, coach Jim Schlossnagle discussed what he liked about the weekend from an offensive and defensive standpoint.

Key notes from Jim Schlossnagle interview

  • I thought that our starting pitching was solid. I thought that Ryan Prager was really good. We were able to get some guys in the game for the first time as an Aggie, whether it be a redshirt freshman like Luke Jackson or Brock Peery, a transfer.
  • I was most pleased with the quality of our at-bats. There were a few pitchers from McNeese that scattered our strike zone. Most of them were competitive and to see guys controlling the strike zone is going to be a key to our team going forward.
  • Braden Montgomery has been to Omaha for the last two years at Stanford. He plays high-level baseball. He hadn’t been in front of a crowd like that and the expectation everyone had for him and his first at-bat. He stayed on some pitches, fouled some away and then got a ball up and hit it out.
  • I think Gavin Grahovac did great the whole weekend. He had some adversity. He struck out three times trying to overdo a few things but then had a great at-bat to finish it off on Saturday. The at-bat to lead off the game yesterday was outstanding.
  • With Ali Camarillo, there are always those players who do it in practice and then can never do it in a game, and then there is the opposite where he doesn't hit the ball incredibly hard. He had one that he hit that was 100 mph when he never does that in practice, so when the lights come on he's been great.
  • Camarillo can use that California drop bunt on you at any time. He plays a brand of baseball that gives our lineup some diversity instead of only the big, strong guys looking to do bigger damage.
  • Jackson Appel and Ted Burton did nothing wrong. It’s a matter of matchup. McNeese didn't announce their starting pitcher besides the Friday night guy going into the weekend, so we never really knew who was going to do what.
  • Max Kaufer had a good day on Saturday. They were starting a lefty on Sunday, so I wanted to get Jett Johnson a start. If it had been a right-handed pitcher, I would've given Caden Sorrell that start.
  • Blake Binderup is a constant in the lineup. The DH, second base, left field, some of those positions will be a rotation, and I will look for opportunities to get every guy at-bats.
  • I wish I could have gotten Jack Bell more at-bats. The run rule screwed that up yesterday. In this day and age, in all sports, with the movement of young players, we don't want them going anywhere, but we have to play the best available players. You’ll see a lot of that over the whole season. That way, if someone goes down, we have some at-bats under their belts. 
  • I think Burton in the front of the lineup is good, especially with the wind. He can do a lot of damage.
  • I heard Grahovac say in the press conference — and I didn’t even know — that he led off his senior year of high school. A lot of great high school players do that because otherwise they won't get pitched to.
  • Grahovac and I had a conversation about how we were going to handle the first at-bat of the game. Beyond that, the leadoff hitter thing is overrated. You just want a good hitter up there. He's going to come up a lot, and if the bottom of the order is getting on base a lot, then you want a guy to drive in some runs. Grahovac did that.
  • I thought Evan Aschenbeck was as reliable as you’d expect him to be. You couldn’t have picked a more perfect situation.
  • Isaac Morton made his first college appearance with a big lead, but still in front of a great crowd. We got a test of his heart rate.
  • Brad Rudis did outstanding. He threw harder in the game than he did in practice, and threw a great breaking ball, better than he has ever pitched in college. That was a big weapon for us because we know how competitive he is.
  • Jackson did fine. Peery got the outs we needed him to get. Zane Badmaev’s first inning was good. The stuff fell off in the second inning, but he still threw strikes.
  • In general, I thought it was good for the first weekend. I'm disappointed I didn’t get Jason Bodin and maybe a few other guys in because they have big arms, and that’s what we need to get out the best hitters in the SEC.
  • Hopefully, Chris Cortez can get us off to a good start tomorrow, but I want to try and get those guys in the game as soon as we can. 
  • I didn't expect our crowd to be as great as it was. I can’t believe how many people showed up for that Saturday game in that weather.
  • McNeese’s pitcher did a great job on Saturday. He is a veteran. He was not afraid. He filled up the strike zone, and he had a breaking ball that we couldn’t get good swings on. I felt like we were in a dogfight, and that's good for our team. We found a way to win.
  • Those are the games you look back at at the end of the year, and if you lose them, it's one of those losses that would hurt you toward the end of the season. A win propels you forward. We are going to have bad days, especially in the league but for the first weekend, it was solid. 
  • Jace LaViolette didn't get off to the greatest start last year, but we kept him in there. When you get off to a great start this year, you have some confidence, so he put together some good at-bats, and he laid off pitches.
  • With that stretch in the order with Grahovac, Laviolette, Montgomery, Schott and Binderup. Good luck man. Good pitchers are going to get those guys, but if they would just lay off the bad pitches and swing at the good ones, it is going to be a lot of fun to watch if we can keep them healthy. 
  • Travis Chestnut is a real weapon for sure. I love him as a player because when we can get him to first base. From that point forward, it is fun to watch. Especially on this team, he brings a different dynamic rather than a big lumbering power guy, so we’re going to keep working with Chestnut. I would love for Chestnut to be more than just the pinch-running player. So would he, but he has to earn it. He knows that, but he is a weapon. He's a big part of the team. 
  • Max Weiner did awesome. Weiner is good at knowing what he knows and good at asking when he doesn't. We have great conversations during the game, and the preparation is at such an elite level. It’s a professional level where you think you have a full team in the analytics department that is giving you all the information.  
  • Cortez’s challenge is what I told him: His effort level in the bullpen is about a seven or eight, and he still throws 98 and fills up the strike zone. Then he gets in the game and turns the dial from eight to nine. Something happens where he doesn't have huge misses, but he isn’t in the strike zone as much.
  • I learned a long time ago that coaches should never say anything but good things about the fans because, as soon as you lose, they will pop off as to why you’re worrying about the fans instead of your team. The 12th Man is awesome and if you can’t make the games... There are 35 home games, I get it, and I'm not sure that I would come to all of them if they weren’t paying me to do it, but just give the tickets back. You can give them back to the 12th Man Foundation or the ticket office. You can send them to me, and I'll make sure we get students in those seats. I heard a member of my staff tell me that we had people in those seats and that their opinion is, “If I’m not using them, then I don't want anyone else sitting in them.” I get that we don't want other teams’ fans sitting there, but the most important people in this equation are the players. It is important that those seats are full when it's possible to be full, so send your tickets back in if you’re not going to use them. There are a thousand avenues to do it. Nobody’s mad. It's just that we have 77,000 students and a 6,000-seat stadium, and I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm pretty sure the math adds up to where we could fill up the ballpark a little more often.
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Jim Schlossnagle recounts successful opening weekend vs. McNeese

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