If the names were stripped off the front of the jerseys, any fan who watched this year's Battle of the Brazos series would've been hard pressed to ask for a more exciting trio of games.
The school names, however, don't get taken off the jerseys and that's a great thing for Texas A&M, which wrapped thrilling victories (2-1 on Friday, 13-12 in 11 innings on Sunday) around a blowout (11-1 on Saturday) to sweep the series with the Baylor Bears. A&M won the series for just the third time this decade, and the sweep was the first against the Bears since the Big 12's inception.
The three wins have placed A&M into lofty territory, both in the 2008 campaign and their own record books. At 33-7, the Aggies boast the fifth best record in the country and lead the Big 12 (at 15-3) by 1.5 games. A&M's RPI is sure to take another jump after the great weekend, and they seem to be just a handful of wins from totally locking a spot up in the NCAA tournament.
For the record books, the team has now tied the program's highest mark for consecutive conference wins (12). The four straight conference sweeps matches the mark set by the 1971 team. Sunday's win was the seventh consecutive road win, the most since 1995.
Aggie fans are used to seeing Brooks Raley listed as the winner on Friday nights, but even his best performance of the year wouldn't be enough to put game on away. He threw 7.2 innings of five hit ball, allowing just a single run while striking out four, but was met punch for punch by Baylor's Kendall Volz.
Volz allowed just six hits and exited with the game tied, but was ultimately hung with the loss as Bear reliever Craig Fritsch would hit two consecutive Aggies after inheriting a pair on base. The last HBP struck Darby Brown and plated Blake Stouffer, giving A&M their second run. Kyle Thebeau threw eight pitches to get out of the eighth and earned the win after the bottom-half's heroics, and Travis Starling threw a perfect ninth for his eighth save of the year.
After two games of lowered offensive performance, Aggie fans had to be concerned that their team was slipping into an offensive funk, but Saturday night's game helped ease those concerns. The Aggies hammered out 18 hits, with every starter earning one, including five homers and nine total extra base hits on their way to the easy victory. The five homerun game was the most for the Aggies since 1999.
Barret Loux was dominant on the hill, striking out five and allowing two hits in five innings. The team's 11-0 lead allowed Rob Childress to rest his freshman the rest of the way, and Hank Robertson threw the final four innings. Childress commented in the post game that he wanted to see how Robertson would perform in a long-relief type of role, one that the Aggies haven't had a huge need for this year, and the Junior responded by allowing just three hits and a single run (solo HR) in his four innings.
Sunday's contest would combine the drama of game one and the offense of game two, but it took over three hours for it all to come together. Baylor jumped on A&M with an early run, and every time that A&M responded, the Bears would come back a bit harder. The Bears led 7-2 entering the seventh inning, 9-4 entering the eighth, and 12-6 entering the ninth inning.
Childress would not be around to watch that ninth inning, as he was ejected in the Top of the eighth after an obstruction call (much like the one against Rice last year) turned a potentially large rally into a double play and other runners placed back on the basepaths. A&M would end up plating two runs that frame, but would move forward without their skipper.
The rally almost seemed over before it started, as Kyle Colligan reached base but was quickly put out as Stouffer hit into a fielder's choice. As fate would have it, Colligan would also record the second out of the inning, and six Aggies crossed home plate in a barrage of offense prompted by five hits and another hit batsmen. Not content to be left with a no-decision on Friday, Raley drove home the tying run in that key frame.
The Aggies would threaten in the 10th, but Dane Carter was thrown out at home attempting to score on a Brown single, and a tremendous play by BU 3B Shaver Hansen robbed Brian Ruggiano of two RBI and ended the Aggie threat. Paydirt was hit with a two-out rally in the 11th, as Colligan reached first on a single, stole second after a botched pick-off attempt, and scored on a Stouffer single.
Baylor would stage a rally of their own in the bottom half, but Beamer Weems was thrown out at home on a Gregg Glime double. Glime advanced to third on the throw home, but was put out just moments later. A&M intentionally walked Hansen, who was having a monster day, and promptly put out Glime as he tried to retreat back to third on a botched double steal.
Individually the Aggie offense was led by Duran, who hit .467 with a pair of homers, three RBI, and five runs scored. Stouffer hit .333 with a pair of RBIs and runs while hitting in each game - extending his current hit streak to 16 games. Luke Anders hit .500 with a homer, three RBIs and four runs scored while also reaching base at a .600 clip (thanks to four more HBPs).
Carter added in a .333 weekend of his own, while Colligan exploded in the final two games to reach a weekend .385 mark. That .385 average was met by unsung hero Brian Ruggiano, who went deep while scoring and driving in four runs, and Brown also had a solid weekend at .363 with a homer.
6-run ninth caps off fourth straight sweep
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