The No. 5 Texas A&M baseball team rallied past Portland with a walk-off double by Jace LaViolette to get back into the win column, 5-4, on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Sunday.
The Pilots (5-2) held the lead after a three-run home run in the second inning by Tristian Gomes and tacked on another in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. The Aggies (4-3) trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the ninth when LaViolette created Olsen Magic with a double down the right field line, capping a three-run ninth by scoring Hunter Haas with the tying run and pinch runner Travis Chestnut with the winner all the way from first base.
The Maroon & White defense held firm with a handful of hustle plays highlighted by Haas and Trevor Werner that kept the Aggies within striking distance, in addition to stellar relief pitching by Evan Aschenbeck. The lefty earned the win in his Aggie debut in the game and dazzled with 4.0 scoreless innings of relief of starter Chris Cortez, scattering three hits while allowing no runs with four strikeouts.
Cortez went 5.0 innings on the mound allowing four runs on three hits and tying his career best with six strikeouts.
TOP AGGIE PERFORMERS
Jace LaViolette – 3-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Jack Moss – 2-for-5, RBI
Hunter Haas – 1-for-2, 3 BB, R
Evan Aschenbeck (W, 1-0) – 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
T2 | POR 3, TAMU 0
Briley Knight led off with a double to down the left field line. Spencer Scott walked to add another baserunner. Tristian Gomes homered to centerfield to score all three.
B2 | POR 3, TAMU 1
Ryan Targac singled to left field to lead off. Kaeden Kent doubled to center field, to plate Targac.
B3 | POR 3, TAMU 2
With no outs, Trevor Werner reached third on a three-base error by the centerfielder. Werner scored on an Austin Bost groundout to second.
T4 | POR 4, TAMU 2
With one out, Zach Toglia singled to right field. Jake Tsukada followed with a walk. Scott grounded out to advance the runners to second and third. Toglia scored on a wild pitch.
B9 | TAMU 5, POR 4
Tab Tracy singled up the middle to lead off the inning and Jack Moss walked. Laviolette doubled down the right field line to score Tracy and Moss to create Olsen Magic.
The Aggies return to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to host Houston Christian at 6 p.m.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle
Overall thoughts on the weekend…
“I define playing bad as free bases, making errors, not throwing strikes- which we did a little bit of that. Hitting is the toughest part of the game, and it can snowball on you so fast. You really just need one big hit, which maybe this will be it, to kind of get you going. So, I don’t think we played that bad. I think that Portland played better, and they played better for almost 27 innings. Certainly, Tad Tracy had a great at bat. To me, the story is [Evan] Aschenbeck. The way Hunter Haas played defense as well.
Freshman Outfielder Jace Laviolette
On the comeback win and thoughts on this weekend…
“It’s baseball. Baseball doesn’t always go in the way you want it, and you just kind of have to know that. We’re all in the dugout and the locker room after those first two games, we just had to believe in each other and stick with it, and know that, one through nine, if you don’t get the job done, then somebody else behind you is going to come up and get it done for you. You just got to believe in that, believe in yourself, and believe in all of your brothers. Nothing really changed throughout the course of the days, we just had to stick with it and know that that’s how baseball goes sometimes.”
Junior LHP Evan Aschenbeck
On getting the call to relive Cortez…
“It’s my first debut, but I’ve been practicing this, doing mental reps, and staying in the game. That’s what you have to do if you’re not getting playing time. Just stay in the games and you’ll get called.”