The value of midweek college baseball games is hard to gauge, which especially is the case for Texas A&M this season.
The 10th-ranked Aggies have lost their last two Tuesday games to Texas State and Houston, respectively, but followed each loss by winning hard-fought Southeastern Conference series, taking the rubber matches against Auburn and South Carolina. The 10th-ranked Aggies flirted with a losing record for the week each time, but held their ground, something a lot of teams didn’t do.
A&M’s biggest midweek triumph was a 9-6 victory at Texas on April 2, but the Aggies then went to LSU and lost their lone SEC series. That being said, you’ll take a 2-2 record any week you go to Austin and Baton Rouge. Also, A&M won its biggest SEC series of the year against Vanderbilt coming off a Tuesday loss at Dallas Baptist.
Today’s game is an interesting one for the Aggies, as is their weekend opponent, the Ole Miss Rebels.
A&M will host Texas-Arlington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Blue Bell Park. The Mavericks (28-13) are leading the Sun Belt Conference West Division at 14-4, two games up on Texas State. UTA has a nine-game winning streak that includes a 2-1 victory over Baylor in 13 innings two weeks ago and a 6-3 victory over TCU last week. Those games, though, were at UTA. Odds are the Mavs will be more excited about the Aggies and Olsen Field and won’t be looking ahead to this weekend’s series at Appalachian State (16-21, 8-9).
Ole Miss, meanwhile, will play rival Mississippi State on Tuesday night in Pearl, Mississippi. It’s a nonconference game, but it’s also for the Governor’s Cup. Along with it being a rivalry game, both teams could use a pick-me-up victory.
A week ago, the Rebels (27-14, 10-8) were talking about possibly earning a national top-eight seed with a strong finish. Ole Miss lost two of three at Auburn, slipping to 19th in the rankings. Ole Miss has work to do just for a Top 16 seed. Mississippi State (32-9, 10-8) was ranked second last week, getting a first-place vote, but the Bulldogs got swept at Arkansas (30-10, 12-6), falling to eighth.
A&M, Mississippi State and Arkansas along with fourth-ranked Vanderbilt and fifth-ranked Georgia are battling for possible top-eight national seeds. The league got four last year, but D1baseball.com’s Aaron Fitt thinks the league might get only three this time as the teams beat each other up down the stretch.
It’s certainly a possibility since A&M has to play Mississippi State and Arkansas, though the Aggies do have both at home. Mississippi State, in addition to playing A&M, also has East-leading Georgia (33-8, 13-5) coming to Starkville this weekend. Vanderbilt (31-9, 12-6) has the most favorable schedule with Auburn (26-14, 10-8) and Missouri (26-15, 7-10) at home and South Carolina (23-17, 5-13) and Kentucky (20-20, 4-14) on the road.
Vanderbilt is ranked second in the NCAA RPI, behind UCLA. SEC teams in the Top 20 are No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 8 Tennessee, No. 12 Mississippi State, No. 13 A&M, No. 15 Auburn and No. 18 LSU (26-15, 11-7).
Oklahoma State took over the top spot in the Big 12 by sweeping slumping Texas. The Cowboys (25-13, 10-5) won at home 15-0, 10-2 and 11-10. OSU hit a modest .300 for the series with 30 hits, but also drew 32 walks.
Reeling Texas (24-18, 5-9), which lost two of three at home to Kansas State two weekends ago, is just ahead of cellar-dweller Kansas (20-18, 5-10). Baylor (26-12, 9-5) is a half game back of Oklahoma State after dropping two of three at Texas Tech (25-13, 8-7) which is tied with West Virginia (24-14, 8-7). TCU (23-15, 6-6) is flirting with missing the NCAA tournament as the Frogs lost two of three at Kansas State, and they are tied with Oklahoma (27-14, 6-6) for fifth place. TCU’s NCAA RPI ranking is No. 73. Texas, despite is recent troubles, is No. 39.
The key Big 12 series this weekend are Oklahoma State at Texas, Baylor at TCU and West Virginia at Texas.
Sam Houston State continues to lead the Southland Conference, but the Bearkats (22-15, 14-7) dropped two of three at Central Arkansas (20-20, 11-7). SHSU’s NCAA RPI ranking slipped 17 spots to No. 68. That means no at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the Southland Conference.
Southeastern Louisiana (21-19, 12-6), Incarnate Word (25-14, 13-8) and SFA (18-22, 11-7) along with SHSU and Central Arkansas will decide the regular-season title, and it should be a heck of a Southland tournament May 22-25 in Sugar Land.