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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Superman on the mound

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By: Vanessa Pena

Matt Kent pitching at Olsen Field. 

With three starts on the mound and 281 total pitches thrown, A&M pitcher Matt Kent was a savior for the Aggies multiple times throughout the postseason.

During the course of the regular season, the junior lefty out of Waco started on the mound in 10 games, and had a role as a reliever for the middle part of the year. Kent was reinserted into the starting rotation late in the season, and was lights out on the hill from there.

Many said Kent’s luck had to run out eventually. However, it never did.

As the NCAA Tournament rolled around, the Aggie pitching staff was a concern for many fans. Kent proved that to be false, and it was almost a guarantee he would come through every time for A&M on the mound.
Kent pitched 21 2/3 innings in a 10 day span, and only allowed one earned run in that stretch, meaning he had a 0.42 ERA in the three starts during the tournament. Kent also recorded 20 strikeouts and surrendered only five walks all postseason.

In his first outing, he tossed seven scoreless innings, and led A&M to a 5-0 shutout win over Texas Southern to advance them into the winners’ bracket of the College Station Regional. Little did everyone know, it was the beginning of something amazing.

After falling to California in heartbreaking fashion in a 14-inning affair, the Aggies rebounded. They swept a doubleheader the next day, eliminating Coastal Carolina in the first game, then defeating California in a 12 inning thriller later in the day to stave off elimination and set up a third and final meeting between the two in the regional championship game. That is when Kent was called upon to come to A&M’s rescue.

“I wasn’t so much nervous,” said Kent. “I was just focused on each batter and each inning when I was out there.”

Though Kent allowed the only earned run he would give up all postseason, he was a commanding force in the 3-1 A&M win. He worked a magical seven innings on just two days of rest, allowing only five hits and tallying six strikeouts to help send the Aggies to the Super Regional in Fort Worth.

“There was a lot of adrenaline, but I wasn’t tired,” Kent said. “I was near 100 percent going into the game, and I knew I could pitch for a while.”

The Aggies entered the Fort Worth Super Regional riding on a lot of momentum. However, TCU jumped on A&M in the first game for a 13-4 victory, and A&M faced elimination for the fourth time in seven days. Enter Matt Kent one more time.

He threw yet another gem on the hill for the Aggies, who kept their season alive with a 2-1 win over TCU to force a deciding game three. Kent threw 108 pitches in the win, posting 7 2/3 innings of work and striking out six TCU hitters along the way. With the season on the line, Kent said he knew he had to come through for the team and pay attention to the task at hand.

“I just had to stay focused on the moment and each batter that I faced,” Kent said. “I couldn’t look ahead or get caught off guard.”

Kent said his teammates and coaching staff made clear their appreciation of the effort he put forth.

“They told me great job and that we needed a performance like that to get us going,” Kent said.

Even though A&M fell short of the College World Series the next night, dropping a 5-4 decision in a 16 inning marathon, it was nothing short of a spectacular season for both Kent and the team as a whole. Kent said the team will be ready once the 2016 season rolls around.

“The team next season is going to continue to build on the 2015 team,” Kent said. “There are talented, young players that will step into the spotlight and shine. They will be a contender as always.”

To cap off a great and bittersweet postseason, Kent was selected in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Boston Red Sox. After the kind of postseason run he had, Kent will be a major contributor to any ball club he pitches for in 2016.

 

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