Texas A&M rides experienced roster to 16-0 start, top-10 ranking

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No one, certainly not coach Rob Childress, would have expected Texas A&M to be 16-0 and the only unbeaten team in Division I baseball through the first month of the season.

The Aggies stayed perfect last week with a win against Dallas Baptist and three impressive victories at the Houston College Classic. They are as high as No. 4 in the polls as they enter Southeastern Conference play this weekend at home against Auburn.

“When you play the sport of college baseball with all the variables that come into play, and maybe you face a guy on the mound that’s got your number, you can lose 2-1 real easy,” Childress said Monday. “We’ve been very fortunate thus far.”

Four of the Aggies’ last seven wins have been by two runs or less, including 3-2 against Baylor on Sunday and 2-1 against Nebraska on Friday.

Texas A&M went 36-26 last season and went to a regional final but was sixth in the SEC West at 14-16. The Aggies expected to be better this season because they returned 75 percent of their at-bats and 60 percent of their innings pitched.

“There’s no replacement for experience,” Childress said. “We felt that was going to be a strength of ours going into the season, and it’s been true so far.”

The Aggies have a balanced offense that already has 20 home runs, Matt Kent (4-0) and Grayson Long (3-0) have been impressive and the bullpen has produced pleasant surprises in closers Ryan Hendrix and Mark Ecker.

“Our guys played with pressure on them for 36 innings last week,” Childress said. “Sometimes you find ways to lose, but our guys were able to find ways to win every day from Tuesday night all the way through the weekend. We were tested in a lot of areas and responded very well.”

A look around the nation:

CLASH OF NO. 1s: TCU defeated defending national champion Vanderbilt 4-2 in the Dodger Stadium Baseball Classic on Sunday in a meeting of teams that held No. 1 rankings in at least one of the polls last week. Preston Morrison allowed two runs in six innings to run his record to 3-0. He saw his streak of 22 2-3 scoreless innings end.

TROJANS PASS EYE TEST: USC, which hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2005, is 15-1 after rolling off wins over heavyweights TCU, Vanderbilt and UCLA at the Dodger Stadium event. “A lot of people were looking this weekend, trying to see who this team really is,” coach Dan Hubbs said. “Well, I think we made the statement that we’re pretty good.”

WOOD SWINGING GOOD METAL: Kyle Wood gave struggling Purdue something to celebrate, going 9 for 11 with two home runs and seven RBIs in a three-game series at Oklahoma. The Boilermakers lost two of three.

ODYSSEY OF THE LEATHERNECKS: Bad weather caused Western Illinois’ series against Evansville to be moved from Indiana to Emerson, Georgia. But hazardous road conditions in Kentucky turned what was supposed to be 10 hours on the bus into an 18-hour ride for Western Illinois. The Leathernecks made it to their hotel just three hours before Friday’s first game of a doubleheader. Their bus driver was, by law, required to take a break after the extended time on the road. So the Evansville bus driver picked up the Leathernecks and drove them to the field in the Purple Aces’ bus. Western Illinois ended up splitting the games.

This article was written by Eric Olson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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