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Everything Texas A&M HC Jim Schlossnagle Said Ahead Of CWS Finals Against Tennessee

Photo via Aggie Baseball on X (Twitter)/ @AggieBaseball

Texas A&M baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle met with the media on Friday afternoon ahead of the College World Series finals against Tennessee over the weekend.

Schlossnagle discussed the Aggies’ pitching plan, Tony Vitello working for him at TCU and much more. Here’s everything Schlossnagle said.

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Opening statement

“We’re excited. Obviously been a great week. Excited for the 12th Man. Looking forward to the number of Aggies that are going to roll in town here. It’s always special.

And super excited for our players. They’ve earned this opportunity. As you know, we’ve been through a lot throughout the course of the year, as all teams have that made it this far. Ready to play. Two off days is great but we’re ready to get back on the field. Looking forward to get back to practice today.”

On if he came to Texas A&M to make the College World Series finals

“No. I mean, we were one game away from the championship game in 2016 at TCU. We were one game away in 2010 if it wouldn’t have been for Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. But I think at TCU we were in the final four a couple times. I didn’t think of that going into A&M because I feel that TCU is a great program.

My choice was a personal choice in my own personal life. I’ll say it again, as I said it at that time, I wasn’t taking a better job; I was taking a different job. TCU’s program was ahead of Texas A&M at the time, in my opinion. No disrespect to anybody else.

It was an opportunity. I had spent 18 years at TCU, eight years at Tulane as an assistant. So 26 of my however many years were at private schools. And I just wanted the opportunity, if it aligned perfectly, I wanted the opportunity to attack a large state school with the way we did things. And it happened to be at the right time. I think everything has a shelf life. I love TCU. I truly love it.

I bleed that school. Both of my children went to school there. There was no negative — I wasn’t running away from anything. I was more just running to something that I wanted to try differently.”

On the importance of defense in this final series

“I think all phases of the game are important — pitching, defense, timely hitting. If you get all three you’ll win. If you get two of the three, you’ve got a great chance.

Outfield defense is incredibly important in this ballpark. We’re banged up in the outfield. And you saw — shoot, we had a chance to score 10 runs the other day if it wasn’t for Michael Robertson, the center fielder. He ran down, made some really nice plays out there on Teddy Burton and a couple other guys. The entire thing is important.

I know Tennessee has played awesome defense. I think anybody who has made it to this point has done that.

We’ve caught the baseball and pitched well. That’s really been the recipe with some timely hits, because — I think we’ve hit one homer, by a freshman, in this tournament. And the home run most of the season has been a big part of our offense. Awesome part of — it’s why you have a great season, you can win games different ways.”

On what it would mean to him to bring Texas A&M its first national championship

“It would be awesome. I think the 12th Man deserves it so much. They’ve been so close and invested so much in athletics.

We all know the football stories. Coach Buzz has done an unbelievable job. Joni, our women’s basketball coach, has incredible things moving forward. Trisha Ford in softball. We’re doing great in women’s golf. There’s so much sports that are doing awesome at A&M.

It would be really cool. I think we’re the first team to be in the national title in any sport since the ’30s, maybe. Did I read that somewhere? So even just that accomplishment’s great, too.

I just love — the 12th Man is so special. If I start talking about it too much I’ll start crying because they really are a unique, special group of people that are so supportive. And it would be awesome to reward that.”

On his reaction to Braden Montgomery’s injury in the super regional

“Yeah, my heart sank. Everything sank in that moment, mainly just for Braden. I think it was ’17 — we lost Luken Baker at TCU a couple weeks before the end of the season. So we played without potentially our best player on that team at TCU.

It happened to us at Tulane in 2001. We lost our cleanup hitter at the end of the year and played to the College World Series on that team in Rosenblatt.

I’ve been through it before. So I wasn’t as concerned for our team as I was just in the moment, heartbroken for Braden and Shane Sdao. And even Jace to have to play not at full speed and Schott. And Appel is banged up.

So you just hate it for them because barring getting hit by a bus, I’m probably going to have other seasons and these guys don’t. They have other seasons maybe in professional baseball, but they have a limited number of seasons in college baseball. So you just hate it for them.”

On ow exciting this matchup is for college baseball fans

“It would be awesome if we were at full strength, that would be really cool. But we’re also playing well. And I think we’re pitching well. And Tennessee is, in my opinion, we didn’t play — I watch a lot of college baseball. We didn’t play Kentucky during the regular season but we played them here. And I thought they had a great team.

But Tennessee is far and away the best team I’ve seen outside of our team this year — pitching, defense, so physical, so well-coached by Tony and Josh. Elander captain of one of our teams at TCU 2012 at UCLA. That’s hard.

I root for Josh every game except for this game this weekend. Coach Anderson has done awesome. Incredible. Doesn’t surprise me what Tony’s done, and not just with his team, but with his entire program as a whole.

Yeah, looking forward to playing against them. And that’s what you get in our league, and that’s obviously what you get in the world series.”

On how special it is to be in this moment

“I’ve said it many times, easily the most synergized — is that a word? — to have really great culture among our coaches, including support staff, like so talented, energy, work ethic, loyalty, knowledge of the game. Like, this is the best coaching staff — most complete coaching staff that I’ve been a part of, and had some great ones at different schools.

And then the players, I mean, pure talent, just pure draftable talent, it’s the best team I’ve coached, when you look at it from a draft standpoint.

But I think I’ve been a part of other teams that have elite energy and elite culture and elite synergy that just haven’t — the ball’s bounced a different way, or a guy — in 2016, we were one win away from this, and we were playing awesome and Coastal Carolina had to win three games and we had to win one and they did.

In 2017, we were playing awesome but a dude named Faedo shut us out, I think by the same score. I was thinking about that when we were playing Florida. Thankfully Alex wasn’t pitching.

I’ve been a part of a lot of great teams. A lot of great teams don’t get to play for a national title because baseball is baseball, and anybody who has ever been around baseball understands that.”

On his team feeding off of Ryan Prager’s outing against Kentucky

“I think he needed that for himself. He’s a completely different — he’s still the same guy, super intelligent. You’ve seen him, been around him. Hardworking. Such a student of the game and all that stuff, but physically — back then, that was the tail end of his freshman year, he was out of gas.

Little did we know he was a couple weeks away from Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t hurting at the time but I think he was headed in that direction, sounds like.

I’m glad that he had a chance to get back on the field. I recruited him hard at TCU. I remember where I was standing on my back porch in Fort Worth when he told me he was going to A&M. Little did we know what was coming.

But I’m excited for Ryan. Excited for his family. He’s got a great family and great parents. And I hope he can replicate that against a really tough offense tomorrow.”

On how they will manage the rotation this weekend

“Good question. If I knew, I’d tell you. Without Sdao, we’ve had to get creative. We had to get creative in the first game with Lamkin. When Sorrell hit the home run to make it 5-0, that made the decision to get him out a little easier in the game against Florida. Because every pitch he threw, I was thinking that’s one less pitch he might be as effective with in this upcoming weekend. So we’ll see how he feels. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. We’ll do everything we can within reason to give ourselves the best chance to win tomorrow and then see what happens on Sunday afternoon.

So the pitchers, the other pitchers have been prepped over and over and over again that this is going to fall to more than just the three or four guys that have pitched to this point. So it’s going to take a village to get through the next two or three days.”

On if Ryan Prager will pitch game one, other potential starters

“Prager will pitch tomorrow. I don’t have an idea who will pitch the other games.

And Jace, he moved around pretty well yesterday. We didn’t ask a lot of him. And we’ll see how today goes. Probably won’t ask him to move much today, just give him every opportunity to get healthy, or better, at least. But I can’t imagine him not playing the field.

I mean, even at the level he was at the other night. Hopefully he’ll be better than that. And if he’s not, then we’ll have to make some adjustments either before or during the game.”

On what it means for the one year guys to get to play on this stage

“It means a lot. Because we had to convince those guys. We lost out on some other guys. Had a guy go to another school saying, hey, if I was in high school I would be coming to A&M but I want a chance to win next year, so I’m going to go to somewhere else in our conference.

And that was disappointing because I felt like even though we didn’t — we did play to a Regional final last year. We did play in the SEC Tournament championship game. It wasn’t like they were coming to a JV program. But, yeah, you’re trying to break that stigma and join the club of teams that are on TV at the very, very end.

So those guys chose to stick with us, and it’s awesome to be able to reward their choice and just ecstatic to get to watch them play. As I told them yesterday, this thing is all going to be over Tuesday morning, one way or the other, either tomorrow or Tuesday it’s going to be over.

Most teams don’t know when their season is going to end. We’re pretty sure when ours is going to end, one way or the other. That’s a gif”

On what stood out when he hired Tony Vitello at TCU in 2010

“At the time we were looking for a recruiting coordinator after — let me think here — that’s when Coach Maze, I think, left to go — no. I forget. So Mazey left after 2012. I was looking for a recruiting coordinator. Sorry. They’re all running together.

Tony was with me, ’11, ’12, ’13, that’s what it was. Todd Whitting got the job at University of Houston after we went to Omaha in 2010 at TCU and then we hired Tony. He was with me ’11, ’12 and ’13. He was well known as just the hardest working, laser-focused recruiting guy in the country.

He did an awesome job for us at TCU. Most of the players on that ’14 — we went on a run ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17 coming to Omaha, a lot of the core players on that ’14 team was recruited by Tony.

He comes from a great family. Dad is the greatest dude ever. Great high school coach.

I remember used to always welcome Coach Vitello, the father, on our bus as we traveled through the course of the year it was great having him on the bus and having him around. I love great high school coaches.

Tony, you could see his energy, his passion. Obviously a super intense guy. And he came from a great family, and he was around — I know he thinks a lot of Coach Jamieson at Missouri. He got to work for Dave Van Horn.

So he was fully prepared to go run his own program, and he’s done a great job, obviously. And I think it’s not — when you go there watch, experience a three-game series there, it’s not just the baseball stuff, it’s everything else that he’s done a good job with is what I think the best coaches do. It’s the game environment. It’s the promoting your program and everything that Ron Frazier and Skip Bertman got going back in the day, I think the best coaches do all of that. And Tony’s done a great job of that.”

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