COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – Texas A&M used a seven-run rally in the eighth inning to topple Davidson 12-6 and earn the Aggies’ first berth in the College World Series since 2011.
“What a hard-fought super regional,” A&M 12th-year coach Rob Childress said. “Davidson gave us everything we could handle, and then some. We were fortunate to win the weekend.”
A&M swept the super regional after the Aggies also won 7-6 on Friday in the series opener against the Wildcats.
The Aggies (41-21) on Saturday trailed 6-5 in the eighth inning with two outs when pinch hitter Jorge Gutierrez popped up behind the mound for what appeared to be a third out – and a slim lead by Davidson (35-26) headed into the ninth. But third baseman Eric Jones and second baseman Alec Acosta collided while both were trying to make the catch, and the ball popped loose and out of Acosta’s glove with both on the ground. Two A&M runners dashed across the plate and the Aggies grasped their final lead of the super regional.
“We certainly don’t do anything conventionally,” said Davidson coach Dick Cooke, whose program was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Atlantic 10 tournament.
While there was plenty of debate around the stadium and even around the nation on whether Acosta had held on to the ball long enough for the third out, Cooke said afterward that by letter of the rules it was a good call.
A&M reliever John Doxakis (4-3) took over for struggling starter Corbin Martin in the fifth inning and allowed a lone run over the next 2 1/3 innings, before giving way to Kaylor Chafin. The Aggies’ most reliable reliever this season then shut down the Wildcats over the final two innings.
A&M, serving as the visitors and leading 9-6 in the top of the ninth, put away the game thanks to a three-run home run by Walker Pennington to left-center field.
“I can’t stop smiling,” Pennington said. “We know how hard this season has been and we’ve had a lot of adversity. We had a lot of adversity in this game, and it summed up our whole season.”
The Aggies entered the NCAA Tournament having lost eight of 10 games, and the NCAA selection committee commented that A&M was one of the last four teams picked to make the postseason.
“There was some angst in our players, as in, ‘Is our name going to be called or not?’ ” Childress said. “They wanted to go prove they deserved to be in the NCAAs, and they’ve certainly done that.”
Pennington has had his ups and downs this season as a senior, but collected five hits and four RBIs in the super regional.
“It’s your last ride, and you want to do everything you can to help,” he said.
As for that hot streak the Aggies are on? Childress said he anticipates it carrying over into the CWS.
“Our chances are as good as any other team that’s going to Omaha,” he said. “We’ve won five in a row, why not win five more in a row?”
Austin Leonard (1-3) took the loss.
Texas A&M will face Louisville in the opening round of the College World Series on a date and at a time to be determined.
The Aggies will make their sixth trip to the CWS in program history while in search of their first national title. The Aggies played in Omaha in 2011 and 1999, but haven’t won a CWS game since 1993.
HE SAID IT
“I let out a sigh. I thought he caught it, and then he didn’t.”
Texas A&M outfielder Nick Choruby on Davidson second baseman Alec Acosta dropping the ball on the infield in the key eighth inning.