Section 203, Aggie Alley and the entirety of Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park were electric on Tuesday, March 30, as Texas A&M baseball took on No. 5 Texas.
With the help of a crowd reminiscent of the days before COVID-19 limited seating, A&M turned the horns upside down in a 2-0 shutout win. A&M now leads the country in shutouts with five.
“We were surrounded by fans,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Look out on left field, we’ve got Aggie Alley back. Out in right field the 203ers were in full force. It was goosebumps for me. Just the feel of what Olsen Field is when it's as close to normal as it can be.”
Freshman pitcher Nathan Dettmer got the start on the mound and capitalized. Pitching through seven innings, Dettmer only allowed three hits and two walks while striking out six batters. The win improves his season record to 3-1.
“Dettmer, he’s done this the entire fall,” graduate catcher Mikey Hoehner said. “He came in and he was an instant spark, a constant guy who was throwing strikes. And for him to go out there on this big stage against our rival and do what he does best, that just shows great maturity. I can’t credit him enough.”
Both teams failed to take advantage of runners in scoring position through the third inning. With chirps from across the park aimed toward Texas’s pitcher and one out in the bottom of the fourth, sophomore right fielder Logan Britt snuck a home run just shy of the foul pole to left field.
“That was insane, absolutely insane,” Dettmer said. “Guys were yelling. There was so much energy, I couldn’t even hear myself think. It really made me want to go back out there and pitch some more and get some more outs.”
So Dettmer returned to the mound and shut the Longhorns out for three more innings. At the end of Dettmer’s watch of the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning, Hoehner tacked on a bit of insurance with another solo home run to left field.
“For a minute there, earlier in the season, we stopped having fun, we stopped celebrating those small things,” senior pitcher Chandler Jozwiak said. “We had our team meeting last week, and it helped us. We figured out what we need to do to be better. We’re not perfect yet, we still have a long way to go to get there.”
Jozwiak took to the mound in relief of Dettmer at the top of the eighth. He struck out the first batter he faced and quickly retired two more. Jozwiak said he thought he would no longer pitch, so he shared a monologue of trash talk with Texas’s dugout.
“I think that [Jozwiak] said that they were not invited to his birthday party,” Hoehner said.
But Jozwiak’s stay on the mound, as he would later find out, was not over. In the top of the ninth, with the chance to win the game, Jozwiak struck out the next two batters. On a full count, Texas put a runner on base. He went on to force a ground ball to junior second baseman Ty Coleman that would end the game half an inning early.
“I threw a perfect game in high school. This tops it 100 percent,” Jozwiak said. “Getting that final out against UT and being able to throw the horns down, that was an amazing feeling.”
Jozwiak earned his third save of the season with his performance. Childress said the energy and excitement from the crowd only helps the Aggies.
“That's the one thing we talked about post-game,” Childress said. “It’s all about taking this momentum to Missouri and going and killing them with our love of the game and doing whatever it takes to find a way to win each and every day.”
A&M has a short week ahead of it, flying to Columbia to open its series against Missouri at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 1. The last two games of the series are on Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Missouri is 8-16 overall and 1-5 in the SEC.
“This was a big game for us,” Childress said. “Our goal is to get to 29 conference wins. The 12th Man was unbelievable tonight and that helps infuse energy into us even more. I'm so thankful for the crowd we had tonight, it was awesome.”