Texas A&M pitcher Zane Badmaev makes most of his CWS debut


OMAHA, Neb. — Up until an hour and a half before Game 2 of the College World Series final, Texas A&M relief pitcher Zane Badmaev thought it was business as usual.

Nothing should have been different for the career bullpen arm. The only time he had ever made a start was during his sophomore season at Tarleton.

Sunday, Badmaev made his first start as an Aggie, taking the mound on the sport’s biggest stage at Charles Schwab Field. His task was to eat as many outs as possible as the team’s opener, giving way quickly to power arm Chris Cortez out of the bullpen.

“It was amazing,” Badmaev said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve had a long road, that’s for sure. I’ve had long road, a lot going on and I’ve had to fight a lot and go through a lot of adversity and it meant a lot to finally be on a stage that I’ve dreamed about as a kid.”

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The sixth-year senior settled into the game after giving up a leadoff single to Tennessee slugger Christian Moore in the first at-bat of the game. He picked up two strikeouts and and a lineout to strand Moore on second.

The lumbering 6-foot-8, 270-pound submarine pitcher came back out of the dugout for the second, but took on his second leadoff single of the game, this one to Volunteer center fielder Hunter Ensley. At that point, head coach Jim Schlossnagle said they had received what they needed from Badmaev.

The Aggies elected to use an opener — in essence, a reverse closer who throws an inning or two to begin games — due to the fact that Cortez prefers to come into the game out of the bullpen, where there is less time to think about the outing.

“We were just trying to squeeze a few outs out of Zane,” Schlossnagle said. “As Chris admitted, he has some anxiety with starting the game. He’s feels better once he can just get ready quick and jump into the game. So, I felt Zane was the best choice to get us, maybe, the first three outs and then he did.”

In his lone season with the Aggies, Badmaev has collected 17 appearances and 24.1 innings pitched. Seven runs have crossed the plate on his watch from 18 hits. He’s fanned 29 batters.

After six seasons, if this is where Badmaev’s college career comes to a close, he knows he went out on top.

“Before the first pitch, I kind of took a step back off the rubber and just really took it all in and told myself that I deserve to be here,” he said.

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