Pitching has carried the Aggies to the brink of their first national title

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

If you believe in curses in baseball and you subscribe to the so-called “Curse of the No. 1 seed” in the NCAA tournament, then you probably think the Texas A&M Aggies are destined to beat the Tennessee Volunteers in a best-of-three series this weekend for the Men’s College World Series title.

But if you have been paying close attention to the Aggies since they arrived in Nebraska for the MCWS, then you should know that third-seeded A&M will have a decent chance of beating top-seeded Tennessee, anyway.

Why is that? Well, for as long as young men have been scuffling around on infield dirt and grass outfields in a game dating back to the 1800s, pitching has always served as the key element to success, and A&M’s staff has been the most effective and efficient in Omaha.

The Aggies have have been nothing less than brilliant on the mound in their three games on Charles Schwab Field at TD Ameritrade Park.

In 27 innings, against Florida, Kentucky and Florida, again, A&M pitching has yielded only 16 hits and three earned runs. The staff has struck out 37 and walked 10.

Never mind that the Aggies are hobbled a bit offensively with some of their biggest sticks either sidelined or limited with injuries. Never mind that they have scored only 14 runs on 23 hits. Or, that they are batting a less-than-prodigious .223 as a team in the MCWS.

The A&M pitching has been so good, it has allowed the offense to relax, measure the man on the mound for the opponent and then capitalize when opportunities present themselves.

With ace Ryan Prager scheduled to start tonight, the Aggies would seem to have as good a chance as anyone to beat a Tennessee team that features several of the best hitters in the college game. Not to mention a hearty pitching staff, as well.

Jim Schlossnagle’s team has won 52 games, but Tony Vitello’s has won 58.

“Tennessee is far and away the best team outside of our team this year,” Schlossnagle said. “Pitching. Defense. (They’re) so physical … It doesn’t surprise me what Tony’s done. Not just with his team but with his entire program as a whole. So I’m looking forward to playing against ’em. That’s what you get in (the Southeastern Conference) and that’s what you get in the College World Series.”

Oddly, the top-seeded Miami Hurricanes won the title in 1999 in the first tournament played with a seeded field. But while the Hurricanes were the first top seed to win the championship, they were also the last.

Notable mishaps involving top seeds in the MCWS finals included losses by Texas in both 2004 and 2009.

Two years ago, top-seeded Tennessee advanced to the Super Regional with a whopping 56 wins, only to get beat at home two out of three by Notre Dame. Last season, Wake Forest emerged as the first No. 1 seed to make it to Omaha since 2018, and the Demon Deacons were eliminated in the semifinals, losing to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Notable mishaps involving top seeds in the MCWS finals included losses by Texas in both 2004 and 2009. To Cal State Fullerton and LSU, respectively. So, because this is college baseball, fans will believe what they’re going to believe. Fans are going to talk about superstitions.

Then again, if the Aggies can take two of three from the Vols for the program’s first national title this weekend, it’s more than likely going to happen as a result of pitching than any sort of curse.


Texas A&M

Overall 52-13
In the NCAA tournament 8-0
In the MCWS 3-0


Overall 58-12
In the NCAA tournament 8-1
In the MCWS 3-0

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