‘Every decision and choice I’ve made has led up to that moment’


It started with a commotion in the Texas A&M baseball dugout. 

With the No. 5 Aggies up 13-4 over No. 3 Arkansas with a runner on second base in the bottom of the seventh inning, a Senior Day run-rule victory was just one good hit away. 

So coach Jim Schlossnagle sent hitting coach Michael Earley trotting out to first base to give senior acting first base coach Ryan Targac the news he’d been waiting to hear: Targac would get the opportunity to pinch hit and finish his last regular season game at Olsen Field at the plate. 

“I saw them making hand gestures and I was like ‘It’s probably for me, but I’m just going to stand here and look cool,’” Targac said. 

And with the opportunity to trigger the run-rule and finish off his regular season career on a high note, Targac sent a 2-2 pitch straight into the gap in left-center field — and Olsen Field roared.

“I think every decision and choice I’ve made has led up to that moment,” Targac said. “The choice to come here, the choice to stay here, the choice to keep working day in and day out no matter what the result is. It meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to my family. I just had to get the job done for the team.”

Targac was honored with the No. 12 jersey before the 2024 season for his work off the field just as much as on it. And while he hasn’t been as productive at the plate as he hoped this season, he’s done whatever the team has asked of him — including stepping into the role of first base coach, something Earley asked him about during the Ole Miss series.

“I’m like, ‘any way I can help out, heck yeah,’” Targac said. “It was a little bit different at first, but I’m starting to get the hang of it a little bit better, trying to get the coaches pose, trying to master that. But like I said, any way I can help.”

A&M secured the series win with the 14-4 run-rule victory over the Razorbacks, but for most of the game, it looked more likely that a walk-off would come in extra innings rather than the seventh inning. 

Both squads traded home runs early. Sophomore CF Jace LaViolette kicked things off early with a two-run shot over the Arkansas bullpen in the first inning, but the Hogs answered right back with a solo shot from junior DH Hudson White in the second.

Freshman LF Caden Sorrell launched another two-run homer into Aggie Alley to put the Maroon and White up 4-1, then Arkansas equalized with a three-run home run from sophomore SS Wehiwa Aloy.

Junior RF Braden Montgomery’s solo shot put the Aggies up 5-4, but it was junior RHP Chris Cortez who sealed the deal for A&M. 

In three innings of relief, Cortez conceded zero runs, zero hits and pitched a whopping eight strikeouts to completely shut down the Arkansas offense.

“He could have let it unravel a few times,” Schlossnagle said. “He didn’t throw as many strikes to the lefties as he did to the righties. But he got it going, and he got the outs we needed…He did awesome.

A&M turned its attention towards the possibility of run-rule victory after their six-run sixth inning. Freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac’s two-run home run in the seventh inning suddenly made that possibility a realistic one. 

And when LaViolette advanced to second after his single, the stage was set for Targac’s storybook ending — a moment no one at Olsen Field that day will ever forget. 

“That was probably the coolest moment in my Aggie career,” Cortez said. “Bigger than Omaha. It has nothing to do with baseball. It’s the fans and how they make you feel. The reason why I came here.”