It’s no secret that Davidson baseball has had quite the magical postseason. The Wildcats, who had never been to the NCAA tournament, knocked off No. 2 seed North Carolina in the Chapel Hill regional to start their run, and had no intentions of ending there.
And, in their Super Regional matchup against Texas A&M, that magic seemed poised to continue. Once down 6-0, the Wildcats rallied to tie the game 6-6 in the top of the 9th to force extra innings. But, in the longest Game 1 in Super Regional history, the magic ran out, and Texas A&M survived, 7-6.
In the top of the sixth, when the game looked all but put away, it was Davidson's Cam Johnson who gave the Cinderella-hopefuls life. The junior outfielder doubled to drive home a run, scored on the next at bat, and was soon followed by Will Robertson crossing the plate. All of a sudden it was a three-run game.
Two more runs came across in the top of the 7th (one RBI via Johnson), and Durin O’Linger, who tossed more than 125 pitches in the game, retired the side in the bottom.
Then, with the game on the line, down 6-5 in the 9th, it was Johnson again. A single up the middle drove in Brett Centracchio and tied the game. The Aggies left a runner stranded in the bottom, and to extras we went.
The 10th went by without incident, but in the 11th, Texas A&M’s home field advantage truly came through. Jorge Gutierrez came on to pinch hit, and Davidson skipper Dick Cooke quickly decided to deal out an intentional walk.
Cue the “ball chant.”
For those that don't know, here's an explanation and prime example from earlier this season, when the chant reached 12, and was followed by a grand slam. This one only led to another four-pitch walk to load the bases, but again, with the game on the line, the Wildcats survived, as Westin Whitmire came on in relief and recorded a quick strikeout.
Four innings after regulation, in the top of the 13th, Davidson was poised to take a commanding one-run lead. But, with runners on the corners and one out, a safety squeeze gone wrong left the Wildcat runner on third stranded on the basepath and he was easily thrown out.
Finally, in the 15th inning, five and a half hours after the first pitch, Texas A&M broke through. With the bases loaded and no outs, Whitmire managed to force two straight Texas A&M batters to pop up harmlessly, and an escape window opened.
But George Janca promptly closed it, and the game with it. The third baseman's first hit of the game dribbled past the outstretched glove of Davidson's second baseman into right field, driving in Braden Shewmake, and giving the Aggies the win.
It was the Aggies' first run since the bottom of the fifth — 10 innings ago.
After almost two full games of play, the two teams will be back in College Station Saturday. Will Texas A&M head back to the College World Series, or will Davidson stay alive?