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Texas A&M Baseball

'Two big swings' down A&M as Tennessee sets up decisive Game 3

June 23, 2024
8,926

Press conference courtesy of the NCAA

Game #67: #1 Tennessee 4, #3 Texas A&M 1
Records: Texas A&M (63-14, 19-11), Tennessee (59-13, 22-8)
WP: Aaron Combs (3-1)
LP: Kaiden Wilson (0-2)
Save: Nate Snead (6)
Box Score


OMAHA, Neb. — It was never going to be easy.

But that they were tantalizingly close certainly stings.

In Game 2 on a sun-splashed Sunday, Texas A&M fell to Tennessee, 4-1, in front of 25,987 at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. With the series now even at 1-1, the two will meet again on Monday night to decide the 2024 national champion.

"I thought it was a great ballgame," A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "I guess the difference in the game was two two-out homers. They got the big swings at the right time."

Indeed, Dylan Dreiling's two-run bomb in the seventh put the Vols on top for the first time in the series.

At that time, Tennessee was down to its final seven outs.

An inning later, Cal Stark added another two-run blast.

Prior to that big swing, Stark was 0-for-16 in the Men's College World Series.

Both blows came off true freshman left-hander Kaiden Wilson, who earlier skirted trouble in sixth.

"We really like Kaiden Wilson," Schlossnagle said. "We think he's a super-talented guy. I thought he threw well except for two pitches."

Up until that point, that game's only offense came on Jace LaViolette's first-inning no-doubter.

"At the end of the day, it's baseball, and we get to play tomorrow. As coach said, we don't have to. It's a blessing to wake up and be able to play this game. Obviously, it sucks that we lost today, but at the end of the day, I get to wake up tomorrow and play the game I love."
- Texas A&M OF Jace LaViolette

It was his 29th of the year and 50th of his career.

"In the moment, that felt great," LaViolette said. "It would have felt a lot better if we had won that, but it's baseball, as I say again. I mean, it's baseball. There's ebb and flows."

Up until that point, A&M pitching danced in and out of tough spots.

Behind a one-inning stint from opener Zane Badmaev, right-handed fireballer Chris Cortez blanked the Vols across 4.1 scoreless innings.

He struck out seven and was never hurt by five free passes.

"I just got a little dehydrated at the end," Cortez explained. "I just wanted to compete. I didn't really care about my feelings. I would have kept throwing. But (Schlossnagle) is looking out for me, and I just wanted to compete. It didn't matter how I felt."

Before the Dreiling homer, the Vols had left nine on base as tension built.

But starter Drew Beam and reliever Aaron Combs kept A&M from extending its 1-0 lead.

Beam departed after allowing one run over four frames while punching out seven.

Combs held the Aggies scoreless across four as well, striking out five.

"The story of the game was how they pitched. Combs, to me, is the story of the game," the Aggie skipper said. "Two big swings and Combs shut us down. He did a great job. Give him a lot of credit."

Despite trailing 4-1 in the ninth, A&M attempted to mount a late comeback as Ted Burton and Caden Sorrell began the inning with back-to-back singles.

Jamie Maury
On Sunday, Texas A&M went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

With the tying run at the plate, Tony Vitello called upon hard-throwing closer Nate Snead, who ultimately slammed the door.

Yet the 27th out was hauled in on the warning track as pinch-hitter Ryan Targac came within a few feet of tying the game.

"As long as we keep putting good quality at-bats together and keep doing what we've been doing this whole tournament, this whole postseason, honestly, I feel like we can do everything we want," LaViolette said. "We can win the whole thing. It just comes down to if we put together good quality at-bats."

While a title-clinching victory eluded them on Sunday, the Aggies did not appear beaten in their postgame remarks.

In fact, the A&M representatives spoke about Mondays’ winner-takes-all being a blessing.

"We get to play," Schlossnagle said. "We don't have to play. We get to play the last college baseball game of the season, and that's awesome.”

An all-time Aggie great slugger echoed those sentiments.

"At the end of the day, it's baseball, and we get to play tomorrow," LaViolette said. "As Coach said, we don't have to. It's a blessing to wake up and be able to play this game. Obviously, it sucks that we lost today, but at the end of the day, I get to wake up tomorrow and play the game I love."

The final college baseball game of the year is set for 6 p.m. CT.

Whichever way it goes, do not expect it to be easy.

Discussion from...

'Two big swings' down A&M as Tennessee sets up decisive Game 3

6,371 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 20 days ago by fieldtrailer
Ag1188
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AG
dehydration
Farmer @ Johnsongrass, TX
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Ag1188 said:

dehydration

Yep. Noticed that. And we have a medical staff that better be ready tomorrow with the hydration reminders. It will be hot
Bucketrunner
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NO excuse for that.
greg.w.h
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AG
Lack of offense and a couple of baserunning mistakes were the issue. But I'm sure the pitchers wanted those pitches back.
fieldtrailer
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AG
Eerily similar to softball series with sips. Led this for 15 innings. Game 3 for the win. Good luck Ags.
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