Here’s the crazy thing about baseball: anything can happen in a short series. The Texas A&M Aggies had demonstrably worse offenses than the Arizona team that they squeaked out a regional triumph over, and the Florida State squad that they were supposed to lose to had an incredible offense. That doesn’t really matter when you have a pair of hot pitchers on a tear though.
The Aggies will go as far as Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling can take them. That’s about all there is to it. If they start the third man in their rotation, nominally Derrick Hadley, they will likely lose the game. Utlimately, how far you think the Aggies can go depends on how much you trust the two aces to keep grinding out wins for them.
I Am The 12th Man takes a look at likely South Carolina starter Michael Roth, and isn’t exactly encouraged:
The Aggies will most likely be facing off against South Carolina’s ace hurler Michael Roth when we take the field Sunday at 6 PM. The junior southpaw is 13-3 on the season with an anemic 1.02 ERA, and 95 strikeouts in 123 innings pitched. Roth was a reliever last year as a sophomore who came alive in the postseason, when pitching depth is most crucial, getting a win in relief in their Regional, beating Clemson in a complete game in his first career start in the College World Series, and then beating UCLA as a starter in a 2-1 victory in the national championship series. A full-time starter this season, Roth was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America for his season-long dominance, which included six wins in SEC play.
Roth is 2-0 in NCAA postseason play for Carolina, giving up 6 hits and 1 unearned run in 8.1 innings in their 5-1 win over Connecticut in the first game of the Columbia Super Regional. He went 7 innings and gave up an unearned run against Georgia Southern in Carolina’s 2-1 win in their Regional.
Winning Sunday’s first game is almost a pre-requisite to the Aggies advancing out of their bracket. Remember: they have to avoid Hadley pitching an elimination game. Aggies fans have to be confident with Stripling on the mound, and Texas A&M did knock around Sean Gilmartin in the Super Regionals, who had a similar ERA and record to what Roth brings to the table.
I would tentatively put the A&M over/under at 1-2 in the College World Series. It’s a hell of an achievement to get to where they did without ace John Stilson, but they’ve had a lot of luck along the way. That said, it’s hard to count out a team that has been this resilient already, and it certainly wouldn’t be a total shock to see them advance out of Bracket 2. Fresno State has proven that pedigree isn’t the only thing that matters once you reach the College World Series, and the Aggies could certainly make it a trend rather than an exception.