It took scoring in the first inning of each game, two late-inning comebacks, an extra inning game, timely hits, the deep ball, and a significant quantity of moxie. But finally the sweep came.
After going nearly five seasons without one, the Texas A&M baseball club secured a sweep in Big 12 play by taking down the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. The triumph was the first since doing the same to Kansas (at Olsen) in 2003, plus the first on the road in conference since taking three from Kansas State that same year.
The three victories (13-6, 9-6, and 10-8) take A&M's season record to 21-6 and, more importantly, move their conference mark to 6-3. That start puts the Aggies in a virtual tie for second place with national #2 Missouri, who dropped two of three to Texas Tech this past weekend, and 1.5 games behind current league leader Nebraska (7-1-1). The 6-3 start in conference play is the best since the 1999 CWS team started conference at 7-2 in their first nine games. That '99 team was also 21-6 in their first 27.
The wins also helped push A&M's RPI upward from 59 to 38. As long as the Aggies keep winning at a solid pace, they should see their RPI continue to inch upward as a result of their Big 12 schedule faring more difficult than their non-conference slate.
The Aggies used a little bit of everything to get the series sweep versus KU, but the most notable (and perhaps the biggest deviation from normal performance) was the big inning. The Aggies hung "crooked numbers" in nine of their 28 at-bats, and also scored in the first inning of every single contest (including eight on Friday and five on Sunday).
The long ball also made three appearances in Lawrence, despite chilly conditions and a slightly inward blowing wind. They contributed heavily to those big innings, and combined to drive in nine runs. Luke Anders hit a three run dinger to tie up Saturday's game in the eighth inning, while Darby Brown hit a grand slam and a two-run shot to lead to Kansas' demise on Sunday.
As the final stats go, the team hit .358 on the weekend and reached base in 42.4% of plate appearances. The 10.67 runs per game are by far the highest in a weekend series this year, and the .512 slugging mark is one of the highest in Big 12 play over the last several seasons.
The pitching staff's final statistics were not as impressive, but clutch performances did abound. The 5.78 weekend ERA was nearly double the mark that the staff brought into the game, and KU's .309 batting average was also well above season average.
What won't show in a box score is that A&M found a way to pitch themselves out of most jams that they brought themselves into. Kansas stranded 28 runners on the weekend, including 11 in the seventh inning or later. Even that stranded runner count doesn't do justice to the late-inning success, as the Jayhawks hit into a pair of late-inning double plays and left the tying or go-ahead runner on-base eight times.
What also doesn't get into the box score, but was a huge factor in A&M's success, was a .983 weekend fielding percentage.
The Aggie offense was paced by Darby Brown, whose weekend should surely land him heavy consideration for Big 12 Hitter of the Week. The Aggie DH hit .533 with a double, a pair of homers, and four runs scored to go with 11 RBIs. That .533 weekend average was matched by Jose Duran, who had a pair of doubles and scored four times to go along with five RBIs. Kyle Colligan had one of his better true lead-off performances this weekend, scoring four times while batting .353, and Brian Ruggiano tacked on a quiet .385 weekend. Dane Carter (.231) and Luke Anders (.250) didn't have memorable averages, but drove in five and four runs, respectively.
A&M returns to Olsen Field to take on Stephen F. Austin in a two game mid-week set, before hosting Kansas State this weekend.
A&M picks up sweep at Kansas
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