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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies advance to NCAA Super Regional

Photo by Vanessa Pena

The Aggies celebrate win against California.

In a long weekend, the Aggies were faced with, and overcame adversity like no other time during this season. After dropping a heart breaker to California on Saturday night, the Aggies had to win three straight, including beating California twice, to advance out of their regional. A&M got the wins they needed to set up a regional championship game for all the marbles on Monday.

Behind a sold out, electric Olsen Field crowd and the gutsy play of Regional MVP Matt Kent, A&M defeated California 3-1 to advance to the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals for the first time since their College World Series run in 2011, which is also the last time they met with California on the diamond.

The two teams played some of the best baseball of the season, going to extra innings twice within a 24 hour span. In 35 innings of play between the two, they were only separated by a mere two runs and two hits.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our guys,” said A&M head coach Rob Childress. “Three incredible games against a really good Cal team…we were very fortunate to do what we did. There was a lot of heart and a lot of want to…very fortunate to win today, and we’re looking forward to moving on.”

Coach Childress called upon Matt Kent to start the game on the mound for A&M. Kent was nothing short of heroic. Throwing on only two days of rest, he pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while fanning five California hitters. He threw 83 pitches total.

“Our backs are against the wall, we’re depleted on the mound, and the two left handers couldn’t have been more efficient,” said Childress. “[Stubblefield] yesterday and [Kent] today…we’ve had a lot of guys step up.”

A&M’s first opportunity came in the second inning, when the Aggies loaded the bases on newly inserted pitcher Jeff Bain. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Michael Barash would push A&M in front 1-0 after two innings.

Sticking with the theme from the series between these two squads, California would come back with a response of their own. A leadoff solo shot by Chris Paul would tie the game in the top of the seventh inning at 1-1.

After seven innings, the game was tied, and many in the crowd felt as if they were experiencing déjà vu for a third time this weekend. The Aggies, however, refused to let the game once again go to extra innings.

The Aggies would gain the lead right back from the Golden Bears in the eighth inning. With two on, Blake Allemand hit a deep sacrifice fly to help A&M take a 2-1 lead, and Hunter Melton added an RBI single to give A&M a little insurance. A&M led 3-1 with three more outs left to earn.

Behind Kent’s outstanding performance, Kyle Simonds shut down the California attack. He pitched two innings of scoreless, hitless relief, setting down all six batters he faced, to earn his second save of the season.

The crowd was, no doubt, a big factor in the A&M win, and it did not go unnoticed by the players or coaches.

“Unbelievable,” said Childress. “As loud as I have ever heard Olsen Field in my 10 years here. There is no question that they were so impactful to our success throughout the course of the weekend. I just can’t say thank you enough, all year long it’s been that way, it has been very special. This weekend was the best it’s ever been in my 10 years here, and there has been some special moments.”

One of the biggest question marks coming into the regional was the Aggie pitching staff and defense. Both shined for A&M over the weekend, and on Monday, the Aggies held California to 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, and the California hitters had trouble figuring out Kent’s fastball and changeup.
The win moves the Aggies into the Super Regionals. Where the Aggies will play depends on the Fort Worth Regional. If NC State defeats TCU, the Super Regional will be hosted in College Station. If TCU wins, the Super Regional will be held in Fort Worth.

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