The top-seeded Texas A&M Aggies open Big 12 tournament play today against the eighth seeded Oklahoma Sooners. Lanny Hayes takes a sneak peek at the contest.
The Teams: Texas A&M (42-14, 19-8) enters the game as the freshly crowned Big 12 regular season champions, but on a six game losing streak. The Oklahoma Sooners (32-23-1, 9-17-1) have also fallen upon hard times, but salvaged a win in the final game of the Bedlam series with Oklahoma State to secure both their bid into the tournament and A&M's outright league title.
The Stakes: Both teams are playing for the ultimate goal that either could expect to achieve with their current mark. Despite a bubble RPI of 44, a rough conference mark and some poor losses mean that the Sooners must win the Big 12 tournament to earn a postseason bid. The Aggies have locked up both a postseason bid and hosting the first round, but are in search of a coveted national seed to ensure that their path to Omaha never strays from Olsen Field. If it ended today, A&M likely has that spot, but they must perform in the Big 12 tournament to hold that perceived standard.
Recent History: A&M swept the Sooners 8-7, 10-3, and 12-2 at Olsen Field in mid-April. The Aggies hit .343 on the weekend with a 3.96 ERA, compared to .277 and 9.78 for the Sooners. The Aggies were not overpowering in that series (just one homer), but knocked five triples and five doubles combined with 22 free passes (15 walks, 7 hit-by-pitch) to methodically dismantle OU. The two teams have met seven times in the league tournament, with A&M leading that series 4-3. The last tournament meeting between the two was an 11-2 A&M win in 2003.
At the Plate: A&M enters the weekend batting .318 on the year, .317 in Big 12 play. The Sooners aren't far behind overall at .317, and lead league-only hitting at .312. Luke Anders led the Aggies with a .625 average and .769 OBP during the regular season series, followed closely by Blake Stouffer (.556) and Jose Duran (.400, 7 RBI). OU's Mike Gosse (.378-7-46) leads the Sooners overall, while Duran (.397-5-61) and Dane Carter (.383-8-58) pace the Aggies.
On the Hill: A&M brings a 3.94 team ERA into the weekend, trailed significantly by OU's 5.00. The Aggies will trot Scott Migl (3-2, 4.73 ERA) to the mound, while Oklahoma has yet to announce their starter.
Best Case Scenario: Migl works effectively and eats innings, saving the bullpen (specifically Kyle Thebeau and Travis Starling) for work tomorrow. On a six game skid, however, Rob Childress won't be picky and will do anything short of ruining the regional rotation to get the Aggies back into the win column.
THE MATCH UPS: A&M vs. OU
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