When Texas A&M lost starting pitcher John Stilson in late May because of a torn labrum, the team was punished by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Despite tying Texas for the Big 12 Regular Season Championship and winning the Big 12 Tournament Championship, the Aggies were not selected among the eight national seeds out of fear that the team wasn’t nearly as good without Stilson.
Texas A&M proved that wrong, winning the College Station Regional, then beating nationally seeded Florida State in the Tallahassee Super Regional to punch their ticket to Omaha.
For a program that has historically played the part of little brother to UT, it couldn’t mean more.
“It’s a huge deal because it’s been so long,” said Sean Lester, baseball beat writer for The Battalion, A&M’s school paper. “It has happened on a magical note, with them first winning the Big 12 Tourney and then the Regionals and Super Regionals. The Aggies have proved that they can do things.”
This is the first year since 1999 that Texas A&M has made it to the College World Series, and the fifth time in school history. Conversely, the Longhorns have made 34 trips to Omaha. But past history means nothing anymore for a team that is surging.
The Aggies lost its opening game of the College World Series 5-4 to South Carolina and will face elimination Tuesday.
“I believe we’re the best team in Texas,” said fan Donnis Taylor Poole, a Texas A&M junior. “We’ve got good pitching and our defense is one of the best in the nation.”
If the Aggies do leave Omaha with better results than the Longhorns, the impact might stretch farther than just baseball.
“That would solidify us as the best athletic school in the state,” Poole said.
In the past season, the Aggies have picked up national championships in women’s basketball, men’s track and field, and women’s track and field, and their football team beat Texas’ last fall in August.
On the baseball field, the Longhorns won the series between the two schools to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament, but Texas A&M ended up winning the title in Oklahoma City.
There will be no deciding game, though, as the Longhorns were eliminated Monday in a 3-0 loss to North Carolina.
“When the brackets came out, A&M was aware that it could end up facing Texas, it just didn’t want to look too far ahead,” Lester said.
Some Texas fans in Omaha have stated that they’d be happy for the Aggies if they were to win the National Championship, because it’d be a good representation of the state and of the conference.
Others wholeheartedly disagree.
“I would not be happy if A&M won it. My sister went there and I would not want to hear her gloating about it,” said Chris Schoening, a Texas fan from Omaha.
By and large, bragging seems to be the main reason Longhorns are apprehensive about the Aggies winning it all.
“We’ve won six national championships,” said Nick Zajaicek, a Texas fan from Austin. “They’d win one and act like they had won 10.”