The 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament will be one that Aggies everywhere will remember for a long, long time, and there were many, many moments that defined just what this A&M team is made of. All of the hand wringing, nervous sweating and bemoaning of this team's grit were cast aside as Andrew Vinson threw the final strike of the tournament and sealed A&M's first ever SEC Tournament Championship.
Game One: Vanderbilt 6, A&M 5
In the Ags' first game of the tournament, Jonathan Moroney and Austin Homan, who have both had a major impact on this team's offense in the second half of the season, broke out in front of the whole conference.
In the bottom of the second inning, Moroney crushed a double off the wall in left center field that scored the first two runs of the game and put the Ags up 2-0. Homan followed that up with a triple that scored Moroney and extended that lead to 3-0. Those two hits would set the table for both Moroney and Homan to eventually make the All-Tournament team.
Game Two: A&M 4, South Carolina 1
On offense, game two was more of the Moroney-Homan show, as the two combined to go 5-7 with two RBIs and a run scored. Nick Banks and Michael Barash each added an RBI of their own, but the star of the game was the guy who took the mound for the maroon and white.
Brigham Hill was outstanding in this game. In his seven innings of work, Hill allowed just one run, which was unearned, on five hits and three walks while striking out eight. For what had seemed like the past month, the Aggies offense struggled to put up runs. But like he has done ever since he took over the Friday night starting duties, Hill shut down the opposing offense and staved off elimination for the Ags.
Game Three: A&M 13, Vanderbilt 3
So the Aggies' offense has been struggling you say? Well, Vandy's stud No. 2 starter, Kyle Wright, should have a field day against this lineup.
Yeah, no. A&M came to bat in the bottom of the first down 1-0, and in most cases for Wright, that might have been all Vandy needed to eliminate the Aggies and move on to the semifinals. This time, the Ags responded with a seven (!!!) spot in the bottom half of the first frame.
They added to that lead with two runs in the third on a wild pitch and a Homan sacrifice fly to left field before tallying their tenth run of the afternoon in the fourth on an RBI single off the bat of Barash. All ten runs to that point came off Kyle Wright. The same guy that absolutely shut them down three weeks prior.
Two innings later, Wright was finally lifted for Vandy's closer, Ben Bowden, and he was promptly greeted with Nick Banks' first home run of the tournament. That ball was positively crushed over the wall in right center field to push the lead to 11-3. But the Ags weren't done scoring just yet.
In the seventh and final inning, with two men on and nobody out, Homan smashed a grounder that ricocheted off the pitcher and to the shortstop. The shortstop's throw to first was wide and skipped past the first-baseman, allowing a run to score to make it 12-3. Next up was JB Moss, and he smacked a line drive to left that was misplayed by the left fielder. The runner from third jogged home and allowed the Aggies to win in walk off, run-ruling fashion. It was a total explosion from the A&M bats.
Game Four: A&M 12, Ole Miss 8
In their semifinal game, the Aggies were matched up with yet another top ten team in the Ole Miss Rebels. One team had a national seed basically 100% locked up, while the other was fighting for a shot at snatching one of their own. For most of the game, it seemed like the Ags were ready to head home and prepare for their Regional, and the Rebels were definitely taking advantage. The first seven runs Ole Miss scored came with two outs, as mental errors plagued the A&M defense.
But in the eighth inning, the Aggies flipped the switch. Ole Miss turned to their closer, LHP Wyatt Short, after Boomer White doubled to left field with one out in order to quell any comeback attempt the Ags might throw at them and preserve their 8-5 lead. But Short walked Ryne Birk and the A&M offense was off and running. Barash singled through the left side, scoring White from second, and cut the deficit to two. Moroney then singled up the middle, scoring Birk, and cut the lead down to just one.
A&M's next move would prove to be the best, most crucial move of the day, and possibly even the whole tournament. Rob Childress elected to pinch hit Walker Pennington for lefty Joel Davis, and in true Olsen Magic fashion, Pennington cranked Short's 1-0 offering over the wall in left to put the Ags up 10-8.
The Aggies added two more runs in the ninth, but they ended up not being necessary as Mark Ecker did Mark Ecker things and shut down the white-hot Ole Miss bats to close out the game.
Game Five: A&M 12, Florida 5
Sunday's championship game was a lot like Saturday's semifinal for the Ags. They jumped out to an early lead, only to see it slip away thanks to some fielding blunders. Before long, they found themselves trailing 5-3, and thoughts of that brutal three-game sweep in Gainesville crept into Aggies' minds everywhere.
In the seventh inning, after Florida had taken their first lead of the day, Childress turned to Andrew Vinson to hold the Gators at bay. He induced a 6-3 groundout to open the frame, but the next batter would reach on an E5. But instead of crumbling, Vinson struck the next two hitters out, and suddenly there was some momentum in the A&M dugout.
With two men on and one out in the bottom half of the seventh, JB Moss smashed a double down the left field line, scoring two runs and tying the game up at five. There was that momentum at work.
The Ags had an opportunity to cash in, and boy did they take it, as Nick Banks followed up with his second home run of the game to put the Ags up 7-5. In case you somehow missed it, he knew it right off the bat.
Soon after Andrew Vinson fired the final pitch of the 2016 SEC Baseball Tournament, the NCAA announced the 16 Regional hosts, and SPOILER ALERT College Station is one of them. Also of note was that seven SEC teams were announced as Regional hosts, which is an NCAA record.
The eight Super Regional hosts, as well as the rest of the field of 64, will be announced on Monday morning at 11:00 am at www.NCAA.com/cws, and all signs point to A&M receiving one of those. There is even a strong possibility that they will be named the No. 1 overall seed.
The Regional round will begin next Friday, and you can bet that Olsen will be rocking.