In a lot of ways, on Friday night, it’ll just be friends playing against friends on the diamond. These are players that grew up as teammates in select ball and faced each other routinely in high school. After the game they’ll meet to catch up for a moment or two.
However, when the teams meet on the field during the game, there will be no room for past friendships, because it is Texas vs. Texas A&M in one of the longest standing rivalries in all of baseball.
This is the last series that the teams will play against one another for the foreseeable future with the Aggies moving to the SEC.
“I don’t want to say I hate the players that go there, because I have friends on the team, but it’s just the tradition of Longhorns vs. Aggies,” said junior Jonathan Walsh. “We don’t like each other and that’s just how it is. It’s nothing personal to the guys, but it’s just how it goes.”
While there might not be a level of personal dislike on the field this weekend, there is still an intensity that goes with this series that sets it apart from every other three-game set that takes place during the season.
Maybe it’s the sense of history that goes with the series that makes it special. Maybe it’s the fans that seem to become louder and more belligerent towards the opponent with each passing inning. Or maybe it’s just that every pitch seems to be suspended in time and that at any moment something monumental could happen.
These two teams have been playing baseball against one another for over 100 years, and while Texas holds a decided advantage in the all-time series at 239-121-5, the games still carry a special meaning to the players and fans alike. And for both the Longhorns and Aggies, the series will be missed.
“I definitely am going to miss this series,” Walsh said. “As much as I don’t like A&M, I am going to miss them when they leave for the SEC, because that’s our rival and those games are intense and they’re fun. I mean their fans are already out there getting on us when we’re taking batting practice and that’s awesome, so that’s the type of thing I’ll miss.”
But setting all talks of orange vs. maroon and rivalries aside, this series is huge in terms of the Big 12 standings. Texas comes in two games ahead of A&M in conference play, and if they can pull out a series victory it would do wonders for the team’s chances of hosting a regional when NCAA seedings are announced in June.
One advantage Texas has in the matchup is that it gets two out of the three games at home, traveling to A&M on Friday but taking on the Aggies at UFCU Disch-Falk Field Saturday and Sunday.
“Home field really helps our pitchers, because they’re used to the mound and the environment,” said head coach Augie Garrido.
When these two teams take the field this weekend it could be the end of a rivalry that has lasted for over 100 years. The players have come and gone, but the passion that goes along with it has not subsided.
Perhaps freshman Brooks Marlow sums it up the best for players and fans alike.
“I just don’t like A&M in the way they do stuff, and everyone in orange just doesn’t like anyone in maroon,” Marlow said with a smile.