The 9th seeded Texas Aggie Baseball team defeated the top seeded and #1 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores Wednesday afternoon, 5-0. The Commodores were shut out for the first time this season and suffered just their 8th defeat on the year. The Aggies improved to 32-25 and greatly improved their odds at being selected for the postseason.
The Aggies broke out the BOOMSTICKS against the Commodores, smashing three dingers. Hunter Melton picked up where he left off last night, getting the Aggies on the scoreboard with a shot over the left field wall in the 2nd inning. Cole Lankford and Troy Stein added solo shots of their own in 4th and 6th innings. The Ags manufactured a run in the fifth, with Krey Bratsen singling, stealing second, and being driven home by a Mikey Reynolds hustle double. The Aggies would tack on an insurance run in the 9th thanks to a Vanderbilt error.
Despite this relative offensive explosion, the real star of the game was junior pitcher Parker Ray. Ray was nails, surrendering only 3 hits in 8 innings, while completely shutting down the top offensive team in the SEC. At one point in the broadcast, Vandy head coach (and 3rd base coach) Tim Corbin told the announcers that "its getting lonely over here by third". The Commodores managed to get multiple runners on base in the 1st and 5th innings, but Ray kept his cool and escaped cleanly. Ray gained confidence as the game progressed, aggressively attacking the strike zone, clearly willing to rely the steady Aggie defense behind him.
It's really hard to overstate the importance of this win. The Aggies continued their hot streak, winning for the 10th time in their past 13 games, with two of those losses to LSU. The victory provides a huge RPI boost, with most projections having the Aggies jumping from 39 to around 30, giving them a real chance at the postseason, something that seemed all but impossible a month ago. The boys are playing great baseball, complimenting outstanding pitching with a newfound aggressive approach at the plate.
Keep the rally caps on, as the Aggies will be back in action tomorrow night against Mississippi State. With a rested pitching staff, A&M has the opportunity to do some real damage in their first SEC tournament.
P.S. I live tweeted the game, and I think I deserve a little credit.
Head Coach Rob Childress
“I’m just really proud of our team. We played extremely well. It all starts on the mound and behind him (Parker Ray) we pitched extremely well. We played defense at a very high level. We grabbed the lead early and were able to extend it with some good swings. Parker wasn’t able to finish, but the bullpen made a stand up.”
On Parker Ray
“He was a walk-on. He came in and was an infielder. I told him if he came back he was going to try out. The kid came back to walk on tryouts his 3rd semester and we kept him. He had a good fall, but wasn’t going to pitch on that staff. I told him if he wanted to pitch at Texas A&M he needed to go to a junior college and prove you can pitch. Not many kids do that at Texas A&M. It’s a great place to be a student. He packed up his bags, went to Texarkana, pitched well and came back. All he does is keep his head down and grind. He was out of the bullpen last year and again this year. Every time he got the ball he kept doing well. It was a revolving door in our rotation about the middle of the year. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Everything he has ever gotten, he’s earned. He’s the definition of a grinder. He’s a guy that I want on my side. Now he’s one of our leaders, not just on the field, but in the clubhouse.”
“I felt really good coming in. I had a short rest but I knew this was a big game so I needed to step up for the team and have the fastballs working so I could get ahead on the counts, and then the slider and the changeup fell nice for me there. Hats off to Coach Childress on a great game calling pitches, I have so much respect for him for giving me the opportunity to be in this situation. I tried to make the best of it.”