At any level of baseball, a major injury can derail a postseason run. Then there’s Texas A&M. The injury bug has targeted the Aggies in the NCAA Tournament, but they’ve managed to overcome every setback all the way to the College World Series finals.

The Aggies were trailing Oregon 2-1 in Game 1 of the Super Regional series when star outfielder Braden Montgomery suffered a lower-leg injury.

A&M has been without the projected early first-round pick since the 1st inning of Super Regional play. The team leader in OPS (1.187), Montgomery slashed .322/.454/.733 while hitting 27 home runs and recording 85 RBIs. Even as a slugger, Montgomery nearly matched his strikeouts (59) with walks (53).

Losing the production of Montgomery can easily swing a best-of-3 series. For A&M, it was only the first blow.

In Game 2 of the Super Regional, the Aggies lost standout starting pitcher Shane Sdao. The arm injury meant Sdao, owner of a 2.96 ERA over 48.2 IP, was done for the rest of the 2024 campaign.

Even without Montgomery and Sdao, A&M swept Oregon in the Super Regional, winning 10-6 and 15-9. It was back to Omaha, but the Aggies were far from the same team that emerged from an NCAA Regional 48-13.

In Omaha, A&M’s first draw was Florida, which was looking like an NCAA Tournament team of destiny. Unlike many of their SEC peers, the Gators had to sweat out Selection Monday after finishing just 1 game above .500 and 13-17 in regular-season conference contests. Unlike the 7 national seeds in the CWS, UF played both its Regional and Super Regional on the road to get to Omaha.

In Omaha, going up 2-0 is the desired “driver’s seat” position. To get to 2-0, though, a team has to win its first game.

Despite having lost his No. 2 starter, Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle decided to roll the dice and save his ace. Schlossnagle opted to go with Justin Lamkin, who had not made a start since May 11, to open the first game.

Lamkin, Chris Cortez and Evan Aschenbeck managed to contain Florida’s offense to just 2 runs over 9 innings. Jace LaViolette was the defensive hero of the game, robbing a potential go-ahead home run during Florida’s last at-bat.

The injury bug, though, wasn’t quite done with the Aggies.

A&M faced No. 2 national seed Kentucky in the winner’s bracket game. Prager took a no-hitter into the 7th inning of a 5-1 victory, but the Aggies faithful could not fully celebrate.

LaViolette injured his hamstring in the UK game. Already down Montgomery, the Aggies were looking at losing their home run leader (28) and his 1.184 OPS bat in the lineup.

The LaViolette injury put Schlossnagle in a difficult spot. A casual outsider would presume the injured slugger would slide to DH. The situation isn’t that simple.

Hayden Schott is playing through a knee injury that limits him to being the designated hitter. If LaViolette were to DH, the Aggies would be losing a .333/.421/.502 bat that has produced 61 RBIs in Schott.

Schlossnagle again rolled the dice. LaViolette started in right field against Florida on Wednesday night. Schott played DH. And Lamkin was back on the mound in the 1st inning.

Though neither got a hit, LaViolette and Schott reached three times via base on balls. They came around to score 2 of A&M’s 6 runs in a shutout win to punch the ticket to the championship series.

There was a gamble playing LaViolette in right field. Florida’s Colby Shelton led off the 2nd inning with a double to right. A healthy right fielder would have likely caught the ball for a flyout.

“All I know is the trainer came and said he’s doing fine. And then that ball that got hit out there, I can’t quite tell if he was a little hesitant to try and go catch it or if he couldn’t,” Schlossnagle said after the game of the decision to play LaViolette.

“So we obviously got some work to do. And we made the change there in the last inning to try and help our defense out just a little bit and save, maybe save him. But, yeah, the next two days are going to be great and our medical staff has just done an awesome job just to get him functional out there.”

A&M pitchers deserve some credit for LaViolette lasting 8 innings in right on an injured hamstring. Of the 24 outs LaViolette played in the outfield, Aggie hurlers got Florida batters on strikes 14 times. With a ground out and double-play ball in the 9th, the final numbers for Aggie pitchers were 14 Ks, 5 flyouts, 7 ground outs and 1 GDP.

For the season, Lamkin has an ERA of 5.00. In two games against UF, he threw 8 scoreless innings, striking out 15 and allowing just 4 hits.

Since beginning Super Regional play, Texas A&M has seen two star outfielders and a weekend starting pitcher sustain injuries. Stumbling could have easily been attributed to the injury bug. Instead, the Aggies’ winning streak is up to 8 games.

“Yeah, we’re down, what, our No. 2 starter, a first-round pick, and Jace (LaViolette) is really banged up, (catcher Jackson) Appel is banged up, Schott’s playing with a torn meniscus. I think from a team standpoint you just try to — you just rally around it,” Schlossnagle said.

“That’s all you can do. There’s nothing — you can’t control it, so you out team the other team. That sounds coachy, but that’s the way we talk about it.”

With wins over a Kentucky squad that is celebrating its most successful season in program history and a Florida squad that was arguably the hottest team in the country, there may just be something to “out team-ing the other team” – coach speak or not.