It has been one year since TCU’s Garrett Crain scored the game-winning run at Lupton Stadium in the 16th inning of his team’s 2015 NCAA Super Regional, punching the Horned Frogs’ ticket to the College World Series and sending Texas A&M home for the offseason.
This weekend, Olsen Field in College Station, Texas plays host to the rematch of the Aggies and TCU with a trip to Omaha, Nebraska once again on the line.
Here are three things to watch during this weekend’s matchup
2016 SEC Baseball player of the year Boomer White is the top storyline heading into the series. The third baseman — who was required to sit out the 2015 season after transferring to A&M from TCU — could only watch as his former team ended the Aggies’ season last summer.
Now swinging the stick rather than riding pine, White holds the team lead for batting average with .398 and has 98 hits on the season, and he’ll be one of the biggest keys for Texas A&M if it hopes to win this revenge matchup.
Pitchers pitchin’, hitters hittin’
The Aggies seem to be peaking at the perfect time. A 22-run explosion against Wake Forest in the Regionals, in which A&M cycled through its lineup nearly seven times, is obvious evidence that the team is having no issues at the plate. Seven regulars in the A&M lineup currently boast an average of .305 or better.
Starter Brigham Hill will take the mound Friday, followed by Kyle Simonds Saturday and Turner Larkins on Sunday if a third game is required. Hill is the owner of a 1.95 ERA in 92.1 innings of work, while Simonds and Larkins both check in with sub-3.00 ERAs of their own. When their arms wear down, reliable relievers Andrew Vinson and Mitchell Kilkenny can build a bridge to the dominant arm of closer Mark Ecker.
New names, same dominance
This NCAA Super Regional series figures to be much more of a challenge than the opening round of postseason play, which coach Rob Childress’ Aggies breezed through with little struggle. If A&M plans to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2011, it will have to beat a TCU team looking to make a third trip to Omaha in as many seasons.
The arms of Riley Ferrell and Preston Morrison have departed from the 2015 squad, but players such as pitcher Mitchell Traver have kept things moving along nicely for TCU. For the second consecutive season, he got regional play started for the Horned Frogs with a scoreless outing, going five innings and striking out four in a shutout victory against Oral Roberts.
In addition to owning a 1.70 ERA in 47.2 innings pitched, freshman Luken Baker has been tearing the cover off the ball this season to the tune of a .382 average with eight home runs and 54 RBIs.
— Texas A&M Baseball (@Aggie_Baseball) June 8, 2016