A three-run third inning gave A&M the lead over Notre Dame in its second elimination game Tuesday afternoon. Two innings later, Aggie third baseman Trevor Werner launched a solo home run over the left-field wall, forcing the Fighting Irish to burn through their bullpen earlier than it expected. It played A&M's favor on the way to a 5-1 win.
“I’m super proud of the kids and how far they’ve come,” A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. "Not just from the beginning of the season but at this time last year we didn’t even have a coaching staff. A third of this team wasn’t even a Texas A&M Aggie yet.
“You look up a year later, and you’re playing in the final four of college baseball. It’s a great tribute to the kids. The coaching staff, the administration, everybody is committed to having a great program."
Sophomore Nathan Dettmer looked for better results in his second go-around at Charles Schwab Field. In the opening game against Oklahoma, the San Antonio native struggled with command of his pitch, allowing seven runs on four hits in only 1 1/3 innings.
Better results were on the horizon for Dettmer in Round 2. His fastball hovered in the low 90s, but his off-speed pitch had the Irish batters swinging low and missing through seven innings. Dettmer allowed just three hits while striking out five, giving Schlossnagle's bullpen ample breathing room.
“He mixed well, and his pitches had depth,” Notre Dame outfielder Brooks Coetzee said of Dettmer. “He had the sinker going, the fastball (running) and the changeup going. There was nothing going straight. He was pitching everybody differently and didn’t fall into any tendencies.
Notre Dame (41-17) starter Liam Simon couldn't have asked for a better first inning, striking out the side in just 14 pitches. The second inning provided similar results as following an Austin Bost double, the right-hander would work around the hit and record two more strikeouts. Bost would be caught stealing third by Irish catcher David LaManna as the second out.
Simon's luck would come to an end by the third inning. A single from Kole Kaler and a pair of walks would load the bases, forcing Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett to go to the pen. A throwing error from Irish third baseman Jack Brannigan would plate two while A&M's Ryan Targac would drive in another run on a sacrifice fly.
Two Texas A&M Safeties Make PFF's Early NFL Draft Watchlist
Antonio Johnson and Demani Richardson are considered top 10 safeties for the 2023 NFL Draft
Werner provided insurance to start the fifth inning with a 393-foot towering blast over Ryan Cole's head in left. Two batters later, outfielder Dylan Rock would drive home Jack Moss on an RBI single.
Notre Dame was down, but not done entering the final six outs. Drama ensued in the eighth as Schlossnagle turned to freshman reliever Brad Rudis. A leadoff home run by Coetzee put Notre Dame on the board. A walk and a hit later, Schlossnagle went to junior Joseph Menefee to work out of the jam.
Like most of the season, Menefee delivered again. He'd strike out Notre Dame's first baseman, Carter Putz, before LaManna would ground into an inning-ending double play. The Aggies' bench erupted while fans donning the blue, green and gold went quiet.
Schlossnagle, who made five trips to Omaha with TCU, quickly has changed A&M's culture in terms both in the SEC and tournament play. Starting pitching has factored into the Aggies' success during the past 18 innings. A&M has also strung together several timely innings with their bats, recording 15 runs off 20 hits in the last two games.
“Whether we win or lose the rest of this thing, this team is going to be remembered for a really long time,” Schlossnagle said. “They brought a lot of excitement back to Texas A&M baseball and people are fired up.”
The Aggies (44-19) now will face Oklahoma in the semifinals starting Wednesday at 1 p.m. For A&M to make it to the championship, it must win twice against the Sooners' potent offense.
Want to join in on the discussion? Click here to become a member of the All Aggies message board community today!
Want More Aggies News? Check Out The Latest In Texas A&M News Here