June 21, 2011
OMAHA, Neb. - Texas A&M saw one of the most successful seasons in school history come to a conclusion on Tuesday afternoon as the Aggies fell to California, 7-3, in the College World Series afternoon before 18,141 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Golden Bears (38-22) used a pair of three-run frames in the middle innings to take the lead and held on for the victory.
"Congratulations to Cal, they have an opportunity to move on," head coach Rob Childress said. "Their hitters did an amazing job today. When we made pitches, Cal didn't miss them. Those guys grinded out at bats and got big hits. Credit Cal, they did a great job. I'm not disappointed in anybody, just disappointed for our guys. There's not a guy in our dugout that doesn't wish we had played better collectively. But again, credit goes to South Carolina and Cal."
A&M ends the year at 47-22, the sixth-most wins in school history, and wraps up a school-record fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and the program's first CWS berth since 1999.
"It's hard to get here," Childress said. "Talent alone doesn't get you here. You've got to have a lot of things go your way, guys selling out for one another and believing what they can do today to win a championship. Believing in each other and being selfless is what it takes, and getting some breaks along the way. No one here has an easy road. Our whole focus will be on getting better next fall before we start talking about getting back here."
After the first three and a half innings, the two starting pitchers dominated the action, before junior third baseman Adam Smith made the afternoon's first impression on the scoreboard with a solo home run to the back wall of the home bullpen in left field.
The long ball tied Smith for the team lead at seven and was the Spring, Texas, native's third of the NCAA Tournament.
A&M's lead did not last long, however, as a pair of Aggie errors in the top of the fifth paved the way for the Golden Bears to plate three unearned runs and take a 3-1 advantage.
Cal tacked on three runs to its lead during the top of the sixth as it used an RBI double from Mitch Delfino and run-scoring singles from Chad Bunting and Derek Campbell to build a 6-1 advantage.
Sophomore Brandon Wood cut into the Cal lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, his team-leading fourth run batted in of the CWS. A&M also scored on a Cal error in the frame to cut the deficit down to 6-3.
The Bears went back to work in the top of the seventh as they pushed across another run on Michael Wacha (9-4), before the right-hander was lifted for reliever Joaquin Hinojosa, who got the final out of the inning to send the game to the bottom of the seventh with A&M trailing 7-3.
Wacha, who had been the Aggies' rock on the pitching mound during the postseason finished with 6.2 innings on the mound, allowing four earned runs while striking out five and walking two.
For Cal, freshman lefty Kyle Porter (6-0) kept the Aggies off balance all afternoon, scattering seven hits and three runs during his six-inning outing. Matt Flemer picked up his sixth save of the year by tossing the final three innings.
Playing is his last game for the maroon and white after an impressive five-year career, senior catcher Kevin Gonzalez tied a career high with three hits. The loss also brought to the end the careers of six other seniors, Gregg Alcazar, Andrew Collazo, Nick Fleece, Joaquin Hinojosa, Kenny Jackson and Steve Martin. The class combined for 173 victories, four Big 12 titles, two regional championships and this year's trip to Omaha.
"I told the seniors after the game thank you for the ride," Childress said. "Those guys earned everything they got and every opportunity they got. They weren't given anything. Getting to the World Series is a great tribute to those guys. I told the young guys to take a look around here, we expect to be back. We've got a great team; this team has overcome a lot. They won everything they could, a Big 12 Championship, a Big 12 Tournament Championship, a regional and a super regional. We didn't play like we were capable of playing in the two games we were here. It's nobody's fault. This is a very selfless group. The toughest job we have as coaches is teaching selflessness. Not everyone gets to pitch on Friday night or hit in the 3-hole. We want them to become better players, better men and put rings on their finger, not just Aggie rings but championship rings, and to turn out good husbands, good fathers and good friends."