Familiar Foes

Emotions were tempered inside the hallways of Disch-Falk Field on Monday afternoon after Texas had learned it would face Texas A&M as the No. 2 seed on May 30 in the Houston Regional.

At least they had simmered by the time the team stepped in front of the media.

No jabs were thrown or bitter lines given that are worthy of seeing an Aggies bulletin board, just respect for their opponent and an eagerness to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

"It's just another game for us. It's a baseball game," Longhorns centerfielder Mark Payton said. "No matter who you have to play in the post season it's a baseball game. You have to concentrate on yourselves and stay in character. You just have to go out and play. You can't focus on your opponent because then you can't play your own game."

This will be the first time these rivals will have faced each other in one of the big three sports since Texas A&M took 2-of-3 from the Longhorns in baseball back in 2012.

With Texas men's athletic director Steve Patterson going on record saying that renewing the football rivalry wasn't among his chief priorities, this could be the only time the schools meet in the foreseeable future.

Longhorns coach Augie Garrido has been around long enough to know not to stir up any unnecessary fodder, and did just that when asked if this was more than just another game.

"It is to the fan base," he said. "But if we are going to give them what they want, which is a three-letter word, "win," then we have to stick with the process. For us to perform is to play the game fundamentally sound offensively and defensively."

The Longhorns could have been in line for a host bid had it defeated Oklahoma State on Saturday. But UT blew back-to-back 8th inning leads and failed to advance to the Big 12 championship game, which OSU lost to TCU.

Despite those losses, Garrido is pleased with the progress this program has made under a new coaching staff.

"This is the first team on the field by this coaching staff, the first one. We are significantly better," he said. "We've really done a good job this year. Our conference did a good job of establishing opponents that could give the conference the second highest rating in the country. We had our rough spot that we are all aware of. I thought we played extremely well in the [Big 12] Tournament. The way the plays bonded together as a team is what we hoped for all season long, and it's happening."

Texas is 38-18 overall and finished fifth in the Big 12 at 13-11. The Longhorns have played well on the road this season, going 12-6 away from Disch-Falk. That includes winning both games in Houston against Rice, the No. 1 seed in the regional. The Owls, who will play No. 4 seed George Mason, defeated Texas in their most recent matchup, 7-2, on April 8.

"This is where it starts for this program," Garrido said. "We've done a good job of qualifying and we will represent the University of Texas to the best of our ability."

Texas A&M was one of the last four teams in the tournament, according to the selection committee. The Aggies are 33-24 overall and went 14-16 in the SEC, which was sixth best in the SEC West. They are 9-11 on the road.

"It will be fun," Texas pitcher Nathan Thornhill said. "It is going to be fun because we don't play them in the regular season. But at the end of the day it's just another baseball game.

"Once they left our conference I think the rivalry isn't as big a deal. I don't think we will be hyped up because it's A&M, and I don't think they'll be hyped up because it's us. It's a baseball game."

But it's one both programs desperately want to win.

"It will be exciting because they all know each other," Garrido said. "They've been playing against each other since they were 12 or 13 years old. They are playing for some bragging rights. From our point of view, there is that kind of excitement."


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