COLLEGE STATION, Texas—The last time University of Houston head coach Rayner Noble entered the media tent after playing Texas A&M in a NCAA regional, he was all smiles after the Cougars beat A&M twice on Sunday to win the regional. There were no smiles on Saturday night after the Aggies dismantled his pitching staff, 22-4.
"Come on Jimmy (Cesario) let's get this over with," Noble muttered as he sat down to field questions from the media, seemingly hoping to get through before the rest of the press corps could even make it down from the upper deck at Olsen Field. But once they started asking questions, the night didn't get any easier for the Cougars' skipper.
"It would be hard for us to set up batting practice and for them to do what they did in batting practice much less the game," he said after racing to the media tent in record speed, leaving reporters wondering if he even addressed the team before the media. "I just hope the bus doesn't crash on the way back to the hotel."
The Cougars made it back to their hotel safely, but that might be the first thing that went their way all night.
After taking the first pitch of the game for a ball, Kyle Colligan turned the second pitch into a green-monster-seeking missile, putting a dent in the center field wall and starting a three-run first inning for the Aggies, who never looked back. But the homer was just a glimpse of things to come, as the No. 1 seed Aggies put on a hitting clinic that Olsen Field hasn't seen in the postseason since 1989 when the Aggies beat BYU 25-4, and Jackson State 23-3 in the NCAA Regional before losing to LSU.
The 22 runs scored was the most by an Aggie team since a 25-6 win at Texas in 1995
For the second straight night, the Aggies' offense was dominant from top to bottom. After all nine starters recorded at least one hit on Friday night, all but one (Duran) repeated the feat on Saturday night.
The Aggies set a new school record for home runs in an NCAA Tournament game with six long balls off the bat of Luke Anders, Darby Brown, Kevin Gonzalez, Brodie Green and two from Colligan. Each of the five had at least three RBI on the night as well, and Anders and Brown added four apiece.
But it wasn't just the middle of the lineup that was getting the job done again for the Aggies. No. 7 hitter Blake Stouffer, No. 8 hitter Kevin Gonzalez and No. 9 hitter Brodie Greene combined for five hits, six RBI and five runs scored on the night.
The Aggies took a 9-4 lead into the seventh inning when the wheels completely fell off for the Cougars in an inning that seemed like it would never end—and might not have if not for a ground ball to the pitcher off a check swing by Greene.
A&M head coach Rob Childress was a little more upbeat than his counterpart in the other dugout.
"I was proud of the way we played tonight," Childress said afterwards, but he wasn't ready to celebrate just yet. "We still haven't done anything yet."
As good as the Aggies' bats looked for the second night in a row—scoring 37 runs in the last 24 hours—A&M starter Barret Loux was also impressive, allowing just three earned runs on four hits over six innings of work—despite tweaking his back in the middle innings.
"Barret had a very good outing," Childress said. "He tweaked his back early but was able to gut it out. I'm not sure he would have been able to do that earlier in the season, but he gave everything he had for his teammates, and that was special to watch."
The Aggies will play the winner of the Houston-Illinois-Chicago game in the regional championship on Sunday at 6:30 at Olsen Field. Clayton Ehlert (6-2, 3.25) will take the mound for the Aggies.
Texas A&M postgame comments
Houston postgame comments
Aggies pound UH 22-4, advance to championship
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