Neither Texas A&M Baseball or Davidson was expected to be in the Super Regional, but here we are. How did they each get two games away from Omaha?
How did Davidson get here?
The Texas A&M Aggies and Davidson Wildcats are each two wins away from a trip to Omaha and the College Baseball World Series. Texas A&M swept through the Houston Regional while Davidson pulled off an incredible upset in the Chapel Hill Regional, eliminating the host and No. 2 National Seed North Carolina Tar Heels. Now these two teams have a date in College Station at Olsen Field.
Davidson was this year’s 2017 Atlantic 10 Conference Champions. The Wildcats have had arguably the greatest season in their 115 year existence. Davidson finished the regular season 27-23 overall and 13-11 in league play. They faced some good ball clubs such as North Carolina, Wake Forest and South Carolina throughout the year.
The Wildcats were a six seed in the Atlantic 10 Baseball Tournament. On May 27th the Wildcats defeated top-seeded VCU 11-4 to win their first-ever championship. It was that title that earned them an auto-bid to the NCCA Tournament, Davidson’s 1st ever appearance.
On Selection Monday they were awarded the No. 4 seed in the Chapel Hill Region hosted by the North Carolina Tar Heels. Davidson then pulled the biggest shock of the postseason so far by sweeping the regional which included a pair of victories over North Carolina.
Wildcats to Watch
Durin O’Linger, Will Robertson and Brian Fortier are the key players to watch on this squad. O’Linger has started 16 games on the mound for the Wildcats and amassed a record of 9-3. He has maintained a solid 2.94 ERA while striking out 89 batters and walking only 29. Meanwhile, at the plate, Will Robertson and Brian Fortier have led the way for Davidson. Robertson is batting .336 with an incredible 18 HR’s on the year while Fortier has racked up 53 RBI.
How did Texas A&M get here?
Meanwhile, Texas A&M has gone from one of the “Last Four In” for the NCAA Tournament to hosting a Super Regional. The Aggies started 14-4 before a rough 1-5 start in SEC play at the hands of Kentucky and Vanderbilt. The Aggies responded by winning the next five SEC series en-route to a 39-15 overall record, 18-11 in SEC play.
In the SEC Tournament, Texas A&M went one and done, losing to Missouri 12-7. Perhaps that loss was the best possible scenario for the Aggies. The rest seemed to have paid off. Texas A&M swept through the Houston Regional by defeating Baylor, Iowa and Houston. This is Texas A&M’s third straight Super Regional appearance and have now hosted in consecutive years.
Aggies to Watch
The SEC Freshman of the Year Braden Shewmake has been on an absolute tear. Shewmake has racked up 67 RBI’s on 42 hits while batting .333. Nick Choruby and Blake Kopetsky both had phenomenal performances at the Houston Regional and look forward to continuing that run through the Super Regionals.
But the biggest story from this past weekend is the Texas A&M starting rotation. Brigham Hill, Corbin Martin and Stephen Kolek absolutely dominated in each of their starts in Houston. In particular, Kolek nearly threw a complete shutout game in his performance on Monday. Kaylor Chaffin and Cason Sherrod were both phenomenal in relief. If the pitching staff continues their roll, it will be extremely difficult to beat this Aggie team.
10-10: Davidson’s overall road record
6-0: Combined NCCA Tournament record of both teams
700 vs. 6,100:: Capacity of T. Henry Wilson Jr. Field vs Capacity of Olsen Field
And just in case you forgot about how much home field advantage can matter:
This season has had its fair share of ups and downs. At times Aggie fans feared their team would miss the postseason entirely. There was even a run when this team had a puncher’s chance to earn a bid as a regional host. They didn’t host a regional, but none of that matters now. The Aggies have one task:
2 wins and on to Omaha.