Texas, Texas A&M meet at College World Series with their baseball seasons on the line
OMAHA, Neb. — Texas and Texas A&M have played 378 baseball games against each other.
College Station was the location for the first two meetings, back in 1903, and Texas has played A&M there 169 times since. In late March, the Longhorns hosted the Aggies in Austin for the 184th time. There have been random run-ins in Houston, Arlington, Brenham, Oklahoma City and even Fayetteville, Ark.
But the Longhorns and Aggies have never played each other on college baseball's biggest stage. Until now.
Texas (47-21) and A&M (42-19) will play Sunday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field in their first meeting at the College World Series. And the stakes are large: Since this is an elimination game, the winner will extend its season and the loser won't play again until 2023.
"I'd say we just kind of look at it as just another game," Texas outfielder Dylan Campbell said.
"It's just another game, at the end of the day," echoed Longhorns pitcher Tristan Stevens.
Fans will have to forgive Campbell and Stevens if they seemed a little nonplussed Friday night about Sunday's reunion of rivals. Texas coach David Pierce did.
Campbell and Stevens were speaking after Texas' 7-3 loss to Notre Dame. The opening loss pushed the Longhorns' backs up against a wall as they search for the program's seventh national championship.
"These guys downplayed it, and they should," Pierce said. "It wouldn't matter if it was A&M or whomever. It's just a game we're playing for our lives to continue, our baseball lives for this year. But I think it's huge for our fan base. It would be nice if it was in the winners' bracket. But it's not."
Of the last 40 national champions, only four — USC in 1998, Oregon State in 2006 and 2018, and South Carolina in 2010 — won their titles after losing their CWS openers. So Texas and A&M both have work to do. Before the Longhorns' loss Friday, the Aggies dropped their opener 13-8 to Oklahoma.
In Texas' loss, its potent offense was subdued, held to six hits. The Longhorns failed to produce an extra-base hit for the first time all season. Staff ace Pete Hansen wasn't sharp, and Stevens even balked in a run.
Texas never led. Neither did A&M, which found itself trailing by eight runs in the second inning.
It was a forgettable Friday for A&M pitching. Oklahoma had 11 hits and drew 10 walks. A&M also hit three batters and committed two errors.
"We'll just have to wear it and be ready to go on Sunday," Aggies coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Much less was on the line when the No. 8 Longhorns and Aggies met at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on March 29, a 12-9 A&M win. Jack Moss became the first Aggie to hit for the cycle since 2018, and Dylan Rock blasted a grand slam. Texas collected 15 hits, but all six Longhorns pitchers allowed at least one base runner.
On Saturday, Pierce said that March 29 game was probably a wake-up call for both teams. The Aggies, who were not ranked at the time, received a confidence boost, he surmised. And he called that game an "eye-opener" for the Longhorns' bullpen issues.
"I thought they came in very uncertain of who they were, and we thought we were pretty good at the time," Pierce said. "I think we've gotten better, and I know they've gotten better."
Texas will turn to sophomore left-hander Lucas Gordon in Sunday's must-win game. Gordon is 7-1 with a 2.68 ERA. He'll be opposed by Micah Dallas, a Texas Tech transfer who's 6-3 with the Aggies.
"We've got a guy toeing the rubber on Sunday that has been in a must-win situation for us all year," Pierce said. "Lucas Gordon has been that guy all year. If it was Game 3 of a series that we needed to grab or if it was a big win in a regional, he's been that guy to go to, and he's handled that really well."
Texas vs. Texas A&M, 1 p.m., ESPN, 104.9