Well, after Cal's loss to Virginia on Sunday, the Golden Bear's backs are against the wall. Cal has been here before, rattling off several wins against Alcorn State, Rice, Baylor, and then, also, Baylor to make it to the Super Regional. And that Regional was certainly Super, but this is a bit of a different situation.
Now, Cal takes on Texas A & M in a win or go home game. I mean, ostensibly, Cal doesn't necessarily technically sorta kind of really have to go home if they lose this game. But they won't be able to play any more baseball in Omaha, instead lounging about visiting many of the great sights and sounds of Omaha, NE that make it such a tourist destination for the other 50 weeks out of the year. And nobody, save for the Omaha Tourism Board and many local Nebraska-based merchants, wants that!
The game is today, 11 AM PST. This might be the final game of the season or it might just be the momentum builder to a National Championship. Or, somewhere in between. To make it to another day, Cal has to channel the awesomeness of the 2006 Holiday Bowl and beat down the Aggies. Where's Steve Levy when we need him?
To learn more about our farmer friends, we contacted I Am The 12th Man, SBNation's Texas A & M site. These guys are great! They know everything Texas A & M. They told us everything we needed to know about the Agriculturals! I hear that Reveille, an actual live dog mascot, has a 24 hour a day 7 days a week bodyguard to ensure that no too full of themself fraternity boy from a rival college steals him. See, this is why I try to avoid colleges with live animal mascots. They are so eminently steal-able. Dognapping is a fairly easy task compared to trying to steal the color Cardinal!
Why do that to yourself? Now, you have to have a whole army of people who care way too much and spend too much time guarding a dog. Time that could be better spent practicing faux-military maneuvers as if they actually went to a real service academy and not the O-Town of military schools (If I understand my readership correctly each and every one of you got that late 90s boy band reference. And you're welcome!). See, this is why when I start up TwistNHook Private Institution (rival schools: TwistNHook State and U of TwistNHook, those land grant bastards!), my mascot will be the Black Hole. It's the mascot that steals you! TwistNHook Private Institution: Spend any sum of time within a reasonable distance of us and you'll never escape. Ever.
And with that incredibly long winded introduction complete with boy band references and a vague compliment towards Stanford, let's get to sports. They're the reason you are here in the first place...unless you love rambling jokes about Texas A & M. In which case, I've got like 40 more minutes of Texas A & M material, but those jokes are actually funny. And *nobody* wants that. That much we know. So, join me after the jump to hear from miketag. Many thanks to miketag and the I Am The 12th Man crew on this one. GO BEARS!
1. Texas A&M had a hard fought battle with USC, but lost on a walk off. How will the nature of that loss affect the Aggies' team psyche heading into game 2?
I doubt it. After the 23-9 loss to FSU I do not think any game can really affect us that much. We have had two win or go home games in the post season and have responded well. I do not expect any kind of hangover.
2. What can you tell us about Texas A&M's Game 2 starter?
Michael Wacha will start game two. He is a sophomore from Texarkana, TX. He is a power pitcher who will bring it up to 95 mph but lives around 91-93. Unless he is injured, he will be a first round pick in the '12 draft. If he is getting his breaking ball over he will be very hard to hit. He has 118 strikeouts in 123 innings pitched. He has thrown about 330 pitches total in his last three starts so if his arm is tired, it would not be surprising. He is our ace since John Stilson went down to injury.
3. Tyler Naquin gets all the pub, but obviously the Aggies have other dangerous hitters. Talk about other batters that Cal fans should look out for.
Krey Bratsen is a freshmen center fielder who is hitting .331 on the season and leads the team with 31 stolen bases. He has great speed and great range in the outfield. Was a high school QB who is just now figuring out how to be a baseball player. Adam Smith is the starting 3rd baseman who has the most raw talent of anyone on our team. He has great power, just poor discipline at the plate. He was drafted by the Yankees as a pitcher. When Smith hits, we are a very dangerous team. Matt Junegel is our power guy. He has had a nice post season.
4. When we looked at A&M's stats the amount of stolen base attempts jumped out. How much do the Aggies rely on their speed to put pressure on defenses and manufacture runs?
That is how we score runs. We struggle to hit, especially with runners on base. We manufacture a lot of runs and try to force the other team into making mistakes. It also means we tend to run ourselves out of innings. We are susceptible to pick offs and lose a lot of runners on the bases.
5. What changes do you think Texas A&M will make from Game 1 to Game 2?
We will try to get more hits. Our pitching was great in game one. Besides the first inning our defense was alright. Our hitting improved in the post season, but the first game was a struggle at the plate. We resembled the team we saw at the plate for most of the season. I am hoping we see the team that battered FSU's pitchers in the Super Regional.
6. Predict a result!
I am saying the Ags win 6-4 behind a strong effort from Michael Wacha.