Summer 2024

Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez playing for the Lord: 'Pitching is not my identity'

Texas A&M was trailing Oregon 6-3 in the second inning when Chris Cortez entered Game 1 of the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament Super Regional series Saturday. The junior provided 5.2 innings of scoreless relief out of the bullpen, striking out a career-high 10 batters and allowing only two hits.

The Aggies scored seven unanswered runs while Cortez was on the mound, and he picked up the win in a 10-6 victory.

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“I don’t try to come in and pitch to the scoreboard,” he said in the postgame press conference. “My job is to get outs. … I knew if I put up zeroes, the offense was gonna score some runs. That’s my job — just go out there and put up zeroes.”

Texas A&M won again Sunday to clinch its eighth appearance in the Men’s College World Series and second in three years. Cortez was a freshman on the 2022 team, when he threw 44.0 innings.

After a rough 2023, Cortez put his name in the transfer portal and considered following his pitching coach, Nate Yeskie, to LSU. He decided to stay, however, following a conversation with Yeskie’s replacement, Max Weiner.

“I fell in love with the things that Max believes in, and I knew that was going to help me in my career,” Cortez recently told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a younger pitching coach, and he gets younger players, and he knows how we think and operate, how we want to have fun on the field.”

Weiner’s arrival was one of two things that Cortez credits with helping the dramatic improvement he’s made this season. The other was a mission trip to the Dominican Republic he went on with then-teammate Trevor Werner through an organization called Mission of Hope in December 2022. Cortez was baptized on the trip and came back with a much stronger faith in God.


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“When I came to college, I believed in God, but I didn’t dive too much into it,” Cortez told the Houston Chronicle. “When I was baptized in the Dominican Republic … I found God out there. Now when I go [on the mound], I say, ‘I’m playing for You.’

“It makes failure a lot easier, because I don’t put so much on myself, because pitching is not my identity. I now play to have fun, and when I’m having fun that’s when I’m at my best.”

The Las Vegas, Nevada, native was primarily used as a starter at the beginning of this season but has settled into a role as a multi-inning reliever. He has a 2.83 ERA in 57.1 innings and has not allowed an earned run in his last four appearances (13.2 innings).

Cortez was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Pitcher of the Week back in April and has established himself as a legitimate MLB prospect. He is one of the hardest throwers in the country with a fastball that reaches 100 mph.


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The College World Series begins Friday, and Texas A&M faces Florida in its opening game Saturday. Florida took two of the three games when the Aggies visited the Gators during the regular season. First pitch is at 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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