Aggies fall to Rice again

Five Rice batters scored after reaching base on a walk or being hit by a pitch in game one on Saturday and it was more of the same in game two. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp takes a look back at what might have been in the NCAA Super Regional against Rice.

HOUSTON—As the Texas A&M baseball team bus sat in the Reckling Park parking lot, all head coach Rob Childress could do was stare straight ahead. All he could think about was what could have been after the Aggies were swept by Rice in the NCAA Super Regionals for the second consecutive year. And for the second consecutive year, the Aggies had opportunities to win both games—especially game two on Sunday night.

The Aggies took a 5-4 lead into the eighth inning after Aggie closer Travis Starling worked his way out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh, forcing a ground ball to Anders to end the inning, and seemingly giving the Aggies all of the momentum heading into the final two frames.

But Rice catcher changed all of that on the first pitch he saw from Starling in the eighth, launching a two-out, two-run homer that somehow found its way over the left field fence. Two innings later, it proved to be the series-winning hit.

"The knuckle ball chooses to do what it wants, and it chose not to break. That's the risk you take," Starling said. "It happened to not break and he made me pay for my mistake. That's what happens in super regionals. It was a poor pitch."

And while the Aggies will remember that home run, A&M had plenty of opportunities to put the Owls away on Sunday night, just one day after the Owls scored three runs on one hit on two separate occasions, and five Rice batters scored after being walked or hit by a pitch.

Sunday night was more of the same.

Both of Rice's first two runs in the fourth inning were scored by Diego Seastrunk, who reached base on an error, and Aaron Luna, who was hit by a pitch.

The Aggies seemed to shoot themselves in the foot offensively as well.

A&M had the bases loaded in the fourth when Kyle Colligan was thrown out trying to steal home. But Childress still felt like it was the right call after the game.

"Brian (Ruggiano) was down in the count and (Rice pitcher Matt Evers) was 3.2 seconds to home plate in the windup. He's left handed and I felt pretty good about our chances with a guy that can run (on third) if he's over three seconds," Childress said. "It was a bang bang play. I think it was a great call on our part to try to do that."

And as disgusted as Childress and the Aggies were after the season-ending loss, they aren't about to hang their heads.

"We had opportunities early where we left a couple of free runs out there," Childress said. "It was just a heck of a game but we weren't able to finish it. I'm not going to apologize for being one of the last 16 teams in the country playing. I'm very proud of our players, every single one of them. We're going to kick the door in at some point and it may be next year it may be two years from now, but it's always going to be our goal to get to Omaha. If you can't see it or talk about it, you're never going to do it."

Left fielder Brodie Greene even said he hopes the Aggies get another shot at Rice next year.

"I hope we see this team again, I hope we get the same situation." Greene said. "We're going to kick the door down like Coach says and I hope it's against Rice next year."

If the Aggies do get that chance, perhaps Childress will be making hotel reservations in Omaha in the parking lot next go around.

NOTES:

• Texas A&M finished with 46 victories for only the seventh time in the 106-year history of the program…the Aggies put together back-to-back years of at least 46 victories for the first time since 1998 and 1999.
• Kyle Thebeau set a school record with his 33rd appearance of the season on the mound…he bested the mark set by Hart Hering (36) in 2006…Thebeau's 79 career appearances rank him fourth all time, eight shy of the school record (86, Chris Russ, 1998-01).
• Texas A&M now leads the all-time series between the schools, 175-91-2.
• Sunday's Reckling Park crowd of 5,368 tied the stadium record that was set on Saturday afternoon…the top three crowds at Reckling (including 5,234 on June 9, 2007) have all came in games against Texas A&M.


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