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Chris Cortez

Texas A&M’s Chris Cortez dominates Oregon

Chris Cortez delivers 5 2/3 scoreless innings of relief

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – As Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle asked for the ball from Chris Cortez, the hard-throwing right-hander lifted his arms triumphantly Saturday afternoon. 

The energized crowd at Blue Bell Park rose to its feet and roared in appreciation. Cortez walked off the mound and towards Texas A&M’s home dugout to a standing ovation during Game 1 of the NCAA Regional against Oregon. 

With 5 ⅔ innings of overpowering, scoreless relief, Cortez had just helped Texas A&M overcome a disastrous start against Oregon. 

“Certainly given the moment, it was his best,” coach Schlossnagle said about Cortez’s outing. “He pitched like that when we were behind in Florida. What he’s done is he’s really done a great job when we take the lead to continue to fill out the strike zone.”

Chris Cortez dominates

On an afternoon in which Texas A&M lost its best slugger to injury, Cortez stepped in after Oregon bounced the Aggies’ ace early. The Ducks had no chance against Cortez, who earned the 10-6 victory to put Texas A&M a victory away from a return to the College World Series.

Keeping a cool mind was a key for Cortez. The Aggies trailed 6-3 in the second inning when Cortez took the mound. Outfielder Braden Montgomery had just suffered a season-ending ankle injury as he attempted to avoid the tag at home. Much seemed lost for the Aggies.


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The junior from Las Vegas kept the Aggies afloat. The blazing heat didn’t deter Cortez from arguably the best performance of his collegiate career. The Aggies needed an unsung hero because ace Ryan Prager faltered. 

Excitement brewed from the home fans as ace Prager was set to toe the rubber. That excitement quickly diminished when Prager allowed six runs in 1 ⅔ innings. 

‘Fill it up’

The Aggies leaned on Cortez to suppress Oregon’s offense. Cortez relieved Prager in the second inning with a runner on second and two outs. Drew Smith, who is one of Oregon’s best hitters, was at the plate. Cortez struck Smith out for his first of 10 strikeouts.

“Go in and fill it up,” Cortez said of his mindset entering the game. “It doesn’t matter if I come in the second inning, third, or ninth inning, it’s the same thing. My mentality doesn’t change if I go in early and late in the game. 

The 6-foot-1 sinker baller needed 88 pitches to finish 5 ⅔ scoreless innings of work. He allowed only two hits and three walks. Cortez has been stellar throughout the year for the Aggies. He has the most wins on the club with nine. 

Cortez lowered his ERA to 2.83. His 89 strikeouts are second best on the team. He has had a complete turnaround compared to last season. 

Cortez held an ERA over seven and walked 40 batters while striking out 39 last season. The complete turnaround is fostered by the coaches around him and Cortez’s ability to throw strikes.

Major turnaround

Schlossnagle credits Aggies pitching coach Max Weiner and catcher Jackson Appel with helping Cortez ascend this season. 

“But Chris has to go through it.” Schlossnagle said. “It used to be when he would get a little bit sideways, he couldn’t get the fan back on the belt. Now he can circle it right back against the lefties and righties. He can field his position really well. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of where he’s come to this point. I’m hoping they’ll have a chance to pitch again if we can extend our season.”  

Cortez’s 99 mph sinker will be needed again if the Aggies can advance to the College World Series for the second time in three years.

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