Texas A&M baseball: 3 keys to sweeping the Shriners College Classic

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Texas A&M Baseball travels to Houston to take on three former conference opponents in the Shriners College Classic. Here are the keys to the sweep.

This weekend Texas A&M baseball heads to Houston to compete in the 19th annual Shriners College Classic at Minute Maid Park. The Aggies will face off against a few familiar foes as they take on the Baylor Bears, TCU Horned Frogs, and Houston Cougars.

The program started the 2019 season strong with seven straight wins but fell to UIC in the series finale and Incarnate Word on Wednesday night. In both losses, the Aggies gave up the most hits on the year so far at 10 and 13 respectively, while also committing two errors.

If Rob Childress and team want to be successful this weekend, they will have to play a lot less sloppy than they did in their two losses. Here is what needs to happen in each game for the Ags to come out of the Shriners Classic with three victories.

Key Against Baylor

The first contest of the tournament is against 15th-ranked Baylor. The Bears are currently undefeated on the year with some pretty dominant wins to show for it. Holy Cross was the only team so far this season to get within three runs, as BU has been beating their opponents by an average score of 7.6 runs per game. Not to mention they’re touting an average of 13.6 hits per game through eight games … compared to A&M’s 7.5.

Currently, Baylor ranks No. 3 in the country in batting average and No. 6 in the country in total hits. Needless to say, the Bears have a very good team. If the Ags want to start the Shriners Classic with a win, they will need to contain Baylor’s red hot bats.

The Aggie pitching staff has been pretty stellar so far, ranking in the Top 10 in the nation for both WHIP and strikeouts per nine innings. If the pitching staff comes out flat against the Bears, the Aggie bats may not be able to keep up. Look to see Rob Childress use an experienced pitcher in the tourney opener on Friday.

Key Against TCU

If you are a diehard Aggie baseball fan, or even just really know anything about Aggie baseball, then just seeing the words “TCU baseball” brings back an array of memories full of pain and heartbreak. Im sure that you don’t need the reminder, but if you’re unaware of what I’m talking about just look up how A&M ended their seasons from 2015-2017.

Luckily, its a new year with new squads on both sides. The Horned Frogs have had a very peculiar season so far, starting it off with a loss to now No. 24 Cal State Fullerton only to absolutely rout top ranked Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 10-2 at the end of that same weekend. To make things even weirder, the very next week they lost to 3-5 Grand Canyon in their home stadium.

The Aggies are certainly capable of walking away from this game with a win, even though TCU seems to have our number. For three years straight I wasn’t confident we could beat TCU no matter how much better of a team I felt we had, and I’m sure most Aggies felt the same.

In order for the Texas A&M baseball team to come away from this one with a ‘W’, they will need to be mentally prepared to play the Frogs as if they are any other opponent. The Ags will need to fire on all cylinders and play the game they know how to play. Because of the recent history, this game will be determined by who wants it more. Lets hope the Aggie team goes into Saturday with the right mindset.

Key Against Houston

The final game of the weekend is on Sunday against the Houston Cougars. The Cougs are currently sitting at 4-3 with a series win over Arizona, but individual losses to McNeese State and Northwestern State. Fans are probably unhappy at the this slow start due to the fact that UH won the 2018 American Athletic Conference pretty handily.

Again, this is a game that Texas A&M is very much capable of winning. Houston ranks outside the Top 50 in most major pitching categories, including WHIP, Strikeouts per nine innings, and hits allowed per nine innings. The Aggies will need to take full advantage and use this as a game to bolster hitting.

The Aggie bats have been subpar so far this season, ranking outside the top 100 in total hits and batting average — yikes. Childress should see this as a game to improve hitting and focus on utilizing our bats. If the Ags can come out swinging at the best of their ability, the Cougar pitching staff will likely be overwhelmed.

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This weekend will be a full-on showcase for the Texas A&M baseball team to prove how good they really are. If the Ags can come out and perform well in all these aspects, a very fun weekend is ahead in Houston.