With the regular season over, the Texas A&M baseball team begins postseason play at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama this Tuesday. A&M, the No. 6-seed, will face No. 11-seed Florida Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.
The Aggies are squarely in the NCAA tournament, but are vying for one of the 16 coveted regional host bids. A&M has a strong resume, with its RPI sitting at 14 and an SOS of seven, according to D1Baseball.com.
The final bracket will be unveiled next Monday, but there is plenty of baseball to be played until then with conference tournaments being played across the country this week.
Here’s a look at where the Aggies stand in their quest to earn a regional host bid:
First, winning the Arkansas series to conclude the regular season was a must. Earning two wins over a top-5 team definitely bolstered the Aggies’ RPI and kept them in the regional host hunt.
A&M finished the season 16-13-1 in SEC play, the third best conference finish for the Aggies since joining the league in 2013. Their two better finishes – 2015 and 2016 – earned the Aggies No. 1 regional seeds as hosts. Here’s how conference finishes have correlated to postseason destinations:
2013: 30-25 overall, 13-16 SEC – no regional host (2-2 SEC tourney)
2014: 33-23 overall, 14-16 SEC – no regional host (0-1 SEC tourney)
2015: 43-10 overall, 18-10 SEC – regional host (No. 10 seed) (2-1 SEC tourney)
2016: 41-13 overall, 20-10 SEC – regional host (No. 4 seed) (4-1 SEC tourney)
2017: 36-20 overall, 16-14 SEC – no regional host (0-1 SEC tourney)
2018: 36-19 overall, 13-17 SEC – no regional host (2-1 SEC tourney)
2019: 36-19-1 overall, 16-13-1 SEC – TBD
The 2017 team had an eerily similar record heading into postseason play as this year’s team does. In 2017, A&M dropped its first-round SEC tournament game to Missouri and squeaked into the NCAA tournament before advancing all the way to the College World Series.
The 2019 squad won’t have to sweat out hearing its name called come Selection Monday, but winning in Hoover could solidify a host spot and make the return trip to Omaha since 2017 easier.
A look around the nation shows who the Aggies are contending against for the final regional host spots:
(Predictions based on rankings/RPI via D1Baseball.com)
Locks: UCLA, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Stanford, East Carolina and Oklahoma State.
In the hunt: A&M, Oregon State, UC-Santa Barbara, LSU, North Carolina, West Virginia, Miami and Indiana.
A&M will have the chance to face several of these teams in the SEC tournament this week, giving the Aggies an opportunity to earn quality wins as the selection committee confers at a crucial time.
“We definitely want to put together a good resume out in Hoover as well because we know if we can backup what we just did here the last series, it’ll give us a good shot to host,” shortstop Braden Shewmake said.
Winning in the SEC tournament should equate to hosting in the NCAA tourney. Both times A&M has hosted as members of the SEC, the Aggies etched at least two wins in Hoover, including in 2015 when A&M won the SEC tournament.
The Aggies went 0-1 in 2014 and 2017, ultimately packing their bags for Houston both times. A&M did win two games in Hoover in both 2013 and 2018, but those wins were used to help the Aggies make the postseason all together, which isn’t a concern this season.
Defeating Florida Wednesday morning guarantees two more games for A&M, including a matchup against No. 3-seed Georgia, who is a projected top-8 seed.
“Ultimately, we’d like to leave it up to where it’s an easy decision for the committee, and for that to happen, I think we need to win a couple of games,” pitcher Asa Lacy said.
No need to win and be in this week for the Aggies, but win, especially more than once, and a postseason stay-cation is definitely on the line.
“I think you can always still help yourself by playing well,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said. “The committee’s not going to make a decision until the end of this week, as far as the host sites, and we don’t want to leave any room for doubt. We just need to go play well and see how long we can stay there in Hoover.”