The Texas A&M Aggies cruise, “harness the energy of the crowd” to eliminate rival Texas Longhorns at the Men’s College World Series


The Texas A&M Aggies cruise, "harness the energy of the crowd" to eliminate rival Texas Longhorns at the Men's College World Series

OMAHA, Neb. — In the insane wait before Micah Dallas took the mound in Sunday’s rivalry showdown against Texas, the Texas A&M right-hander thought deeply about one piece of advice: It’s just one more game.

But it was the Men’s College World Series, and Robert couldn’t help it. He stormed onto the field after the Aggies’ 10-2 loss and flashed a double Horns Down sign.

“It’s like breathing: death, taxes and horns down,” Dallas said. “I mean, there’s no hate for her at all. They are a great ball club.

“If you looked at social media before the game, you thought it was a matter of life or death. And the fans today were just amazing. Both sides had fun. You can let it affect you either positively or negatively. The older you get and the more experience you have, the better you can harness the energy of the crowd.”

Texas and Texas A&M have played baseball against each other since 1904, but the stakes have never been higher than on Saturday. It was the first time they faced each other in the CWS and the loser would go home.

Texas was the blue-blooded team; It has six national championships and is the most successful Division I baseball program of all time while the Aggies had not won a CWS game in 29 years.

Until Sunday.

Dallas, who grew up in Aubrey, Texas – nicknamed Horse Country, USA – was unshakable. In heat indexes that were in the triple digits, he appeared to work in the first two innings, throwing 51 pitches and giving up two runs.

Dallas said A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle chatted with him after the first inning. “Just keep going,” Schlossnagle told him. It gave him confidence, Dallas said. He continued to stall the Longhorns up to the top of the sixth, and by then the Aggies had established an 8-2 lead. Texas staged a final rally in the sixth as Silas Ardoin and Dylan Campbell went out with no outs.

Then the Aggies called Jacob Palisch. Stanford’s grad transfer beat the next two batters and then went to Mitchell Daly who yelled, “Let’s go!” into the shelter of the UT. It loaded the bases for Longhorns hitter Ivan Melendez, who led the nation in home runs and RBIs.

Melendez connected with an opposing drive that sailed foul. Fans in burnt orange and maroon and white rose. Melendez lashed out and faced an inside fastball at the knees.

Palisch clenched his fist. Melendez straightened his body in disbelief.

After the game, Texas coach David Pierce said he felt “numb.”

“I mean, I thought we had momentum early in the game,” he said. “We grabbed one in the first, I think one in the second. They just have — overcoming big innings has been the story of the last three months. And that’s what slammed us today. I felt like I was just playing uphill all the time at that point. Maybe that feeling just caught up with us. We spent a lot of time today being on the pitch.”

The Aggies (43-19) appeared to be the looser team on Saturday. They fed catcher Troy Claunch a Pringles chip when he scored in the second inning to make it 2-2. The Pringles routine, or whatever you want to call it, began in March when the Aggies lost to Houston. Schlossnagle told the team that winning had to be like Pringles: you can’t just eat one.

Now when they hit runs or come up with a big play, they eat Pringles.

A&M fans turned up at the team hotel on Sunday morning to send the Aggies to the team bus. Seth Martin, a College Station resident who sits in Section 203 during home baseball games, would punch players and head into the stadium with his own survival kit: a maroon A&M koozie, a vial of soap bubbles that erupted after each score burst, and, of course, a can of Pringles.

“Everyone hates TU,” Martin said, flipping the team’s initials.

“Can you tell how excited we are?

The Texas-Texas A&M rivalry lost some of its luster in 2012 when the Aggies moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. The teams did not play against each other for three years. In 2015, they agreed to an annual game on Tuesday. Among the major sports, baseball teams are the only ones that play against each other.

But that will change in 2025 when Texas joins the SEC.

Robert didn’t think about this late Sunday. He said he had “talks” with Texas during the recruiting process but went to Texas Tech. He transferred to College Station after last season, and now, as the Longhorns head home, Dallas’ incredible season continues.

“As a little kid you think about playing your biggest rival on the biggest stage,” he said, “and that’s what happened today.”

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