Aggie baseball - boom or bust?

After a disappointing finish to the weekend in Nebraska, will the Aggies rebound this weekend to add their list of significant victories in A&M's recent history? Or will they become another disappointment. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp takes a look at some of the biggest ups and downs in the last 10 years, and wonders, "which list will the 2008 baseball team join?"

So…you're stuck in a car with three other guys for the next 13 hours of your life. You've just witnessed one of the most disappointing afternoons in Texas A&M athletics' recent history. Now you're driving through Kansas and Oklahoma—in the middle of the night.

What else is there to do but talk about the disappointing finish to the weekend? Where could this year's baseball team stack up on the list of other recent disappointments in Aggie athletics' recent history—or on a more positive note, where it could stack up on the biggest achievements in the last 10 years.

Late Sunday night/early Monday morning, somewhere around Wichita, Kansas, the rest of the Nebraska road trip party and myself came up with a list of the biggest "disappointments" in A&M sports history. I've since cut it down to the worst five disappointments in the last 10 years.

Biggest A&M sports disappointments in the last 10 years

5. 2003 – Baseball regional vs. Houston
The Aggies dropped the first game against the Cougars on Sunday afternoon, but took a four-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning in the final game of the regional—winner moves on, loser goes home. The Aggies had All-American closer Scott Beerer on the mound but Houston scored two in the eight, two in the ninth and scored the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning on a throwing error by A&M reliever Matt Farnum, eliminating the Aggies from the NCAA Tournament.

4. 2008 – Men's basketball loses in second round to UCLA
Okay, so losing to the No. 1 seed shouldn't typically be a disappointment, but when you're up 10 points with six minutes to play, in the equivalent of a road game against an eventual Final Four team, it tends to sting a bit—especially given the no-call on Donald Sloan's final shot of the game. Sure, A&M had their chances at the line, but A&M fans sure would feel better if A&M would have just gotten a shot off in the closing seconds. This one will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth this summer.

3. 2007 - Women's soccer loses to Texas in NCAA second round
Texas beat the Aggies 3-2 in a rainy game at the Aggie Soccer Stadium despite being peppered with shot after shot in the final minutes of play, including two shots at a wide open net by Ashlee Pistorious. It was the first time that the Longhorns had ever won in College Station, but what made it worse, is that the road had been paved for the Aggies. The Women's College Cup (the Final Four) was in College Station and fourth-seeded Stanford had been beaten by Florida State—meaning that A&M would have played at home all the way to the National Championship game if they had kept winning. Not a good day for Aggie soccer, to be sure.

2. 2004 - Aggie football loses to Baylor
On Saturday afternoon, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit announced on national television that ESPN Gameday would be in College Station the following week for the showdown between A&M and Oklahoma. It was booked. He already had a seat reserved for him at Midnight Yell Practice—one of his favorite college traditions. But then A&M got bounced by Baylor in Waco that night on a two-point conversion that brought the goalposts down in Waco and sent Gameday in studio for the first time in years. The A&M-OU game was another classic, but Gameday was not there

1. 2007 – Men's basketball loses to Memphis in Sweet 16 The Aggies had knocked off Louisville in Kentucky just a few days earlier to earn the right to play in their own backyard in the Sweet 16 against Memphis. They were up by one in the final minute of play, and had a chance to take a three-point lead but All-American Acie Law—Captain Clutch, himself—missed a layup. Memphis went back down the court and was "fouled" in the final seconds, sending the Tigers to the line down by one instead of three. They made both free throws and won the game by one point. A&M would have advanced to its first Elite 8, and would have drawn 30,000-40,000 fans for the regional final against Ohio State, with a Final Four berth on the line.

But after totally depressing everyone in the car, we thought, well, there has to be some good moments as well. Turns out, there are plenty.

Meaningful victories

5. 2007 – Women's swimming beats Texas to capture first Big 12 title
The A&M women's swimming program had never won a Big 12 championship heading into the 2007 season. But that all changed last year, when the Aggies defeated Texas by one point—yes, one point—to claim their first ever crown. This year, the Aggies repeated as champions, staking their claim as the program in the state, and helping the A&M athletics department get into position to claim the first ever win in the State Farm Lonestar Showdown this weekend with just three points up for grabs.

4. 2004 – Winning rice regional to advance to LSU Super Regional Thanks to a stroke of luck in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Regional at Rice, the Aggies didn't have to play the Owls until Sunday, thanks to some help from Texas Southern in the first round. And it was a good thing. The Aggies lost the first game, but came back in the second and decisive regional championship game to advance to the Super Regionals against all odds. The Aggies used a double by Matt Alexander—who had struggled all season at the plate, and an eighth-inning grand slam by Justin Ruggiano to knock off the Owls and advance to their first Super Regional since the 1999 team's trip to Omaha. Unfortunately, the Aggies got swept by LSU the next weekend, but that didn't take away from the dramatic come-from-behind win in Houston a week earlier.

3. 1999 – Super regional vs. Clemson I wasn't around A&M athletics yet at this point, but everything I've read, everything I've watched and everything I've heard about (arguably) the biggest weekend in Olsen Field history is incredible. It's one of those games that you just wish you could have seen. Hearing the "He struck him out! He struck him out! He struck him out!" is a nice way to visualize the moment, but I would rather have been sitting in section 205, row 5 (where I sat for probably 100 games as a student) mobbing my friends.

2. 2007 – Men's basketball beats Kansas and Texas just 48 hours apart
What a weekend this was. The road trip to Lawrence is unmatched in my long history of road trips. We endured all the smack talk on Friday night. We were asked, "Why did you come all the way up here to see your team lose?" Then Acie Law did what he does best, drilling one of the biggest shots in A&M basketball history. But that wasn't the end of the weekend. A&M came home and drilled the Texas Longhorns in front of a nationally-televised Big Monday audience, putting A&M basketball on the national radar for the first time, knocking off two of the biggest name programs in the nation just hours apart, and both on national television.

1. 1999 – Beating Texas the week that Aggie Bonfire fell
I woke up at 7 a.m. and stood in line to buy Bonfire memorial T-shirts for me and about 50 people back home who wanted me to grab one for them. I climbed up to the top row of third deck as a wet-behind-the-ears freshman at A&M, and I had no idea what I was about to see. It was a picturesque day at Kyle Field and the significance of the win over Texas that day is still one of the most vivid memories in my college career. After such a long week, against such big odds, the Aggie football team went out and began to help an entire university heal. When Brian Gamble recovered the fumble in the closing moments of the game, raising his arms to the sky, as if to be speaking to the fallen 12 Aggies, it was as if the whole thing had been scripted. And even Hollywood couldn't have written a better ending.

Now the only question for the 2008 baseball team is, which list will they join?

The Aggies can still clinch the Big 12 championship this weekend against Texas, just two years after finishing dead last.

They can still earn a top-eight national seed, and host the NCAA playoffs all the way until the College World Series. They can still turn their hats backwards—something Childress will only let them do when they've won something—and dog pile at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.

Last week in Nebraska was a disappointment, there's no doubt. Blowing two games in one day, in the fashion that the Aggies managed to do it, is disappointing. But Childress has instilled a toughness on this team that should help the seventh-ranked Aggies claim their first regular season conference title since 1999, adding their names to the top moments in the last 10 years of A&M athletics.


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