A&M, Texas begin last Big 12 series
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
Texas A&M baseball head coach Rob Childress retained dry eyes when talking about the school’s rivalry with the Longhorns. He said he’s not sad about leaving behind A&M’s oldest foe because he’s confident that, somehow, the institutions will find a way to continue the rivalry that began in 1894.
“It’s not the last time we’re going to be seeing Texas,” Childress said about this weekend’s series.
There will be no love lost between the teams when they face off for the final time as conference opponents on Friday night.
“I’m looking forward to sweeping them, hopefully,” freshman pitcher Daniel Mengden said. “We need to win this series for sure. We’ve got Wacha, Stripling and Pineda going. Hopefully we can do well, the bats turn up and we do really well as a team.”
After dropping five consecutive contests against Kansas, Rice and Baylor, the Aggies got back on track Tuesday evening with a 4-1 away win over TCU.
“It was important to get that dirty taste of losing out of our mouth and to find a little confidence,” Childress said. “I thought we played very good in all areas of the game and for us bottom line was to get a win.”
Through seven innings against the Horned Frogs, the Aggies looked the part of a team that had lost four consecutive Big 12 games with nearly every hard-hit ball ending up in the webbing of a TCU mit. But in the eighth inning, freshman right fielder Chance Bolcerek pinch hit for the Aggies and connected with an RBI-triple that kick started a four-run stretch.
Childress thinks that the seldom-used Bolcerek has earned his stripes, saying “we need to find a place for him.”
“He’s done a marvelous job at understanding why he hasn’t been playing more often and what we’re trying to do as a group,” Childress said. “He’s handled it great, and guys that do that usually when they get their opportunity again have great success and it’s no surprise that when he gets his shot, he does well.”
Bolcerek’s production comes at a pivotal time for the Aggies as they try to maintain a spot atop the conference and national charts. The potential return of senior first baseman Jacob House, who was hitting at a .331 clip before being sidelined with a foot arch injury, could greatly aide the Aggies’ late-season run.
“Chances are very strong that he’ll be able to start and play this weekend,” Childress said about House. “He’s gotten a lot better here in the last couple days.”
No. 9 Texas A&M (29-12, 9-6 Big 12) possesses a cleaner record overall, but the Longhorns (24-14, 11-4 Big 12) have been terrific in Big 12 play and are currently ranked second, one slot above the Aggies, in the conference standings. The visitors boast one of the deepest pitching staffs in the country, headlined by Corey Knebel and his league-low 1.27 ERA.
“I know they’re playing really good right now and from a pitching standpoint they’ve got some sophomores that they’re starting in their rotation and the strength of their staff is the bullpen with Knebel and Hoby Milner and a freshman in John Curtis,” Childress said. “Offensively they’re very similar to Baylor in that they’re very left handed dominant. [They’re] not gonna slug it the way Baylor does, but they’ve been very good in conference. ”
Junior shortstop Mikey Reynolds, a junior college transfer who has never faced the Longhorns while wearing maroon, said he and his teammates are locked in 100 percent and have put thoughts of their recent skid behind them.
“I’m feeling good about how we’re taking our approach offensively and how we’re staying up the middle,” said junior short stop Mikey Reynolds. “I think our bats are going to come out. I think we’re going to outhit them the whole series.”