OMAHA, Neb. –In the maddening wait before Micah Dallas takes 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 another game.
But it was the Men’s College World Series, and Dallas couldn’t help it. He charged onto the field after the Aggies’ 10-2 rout and posted a double Horns Down sign.
“It’s a bit of a breathing thing: death, taxes and horns down,” Dallas said. “I mean, there’s no hatred towards them. They’re a great ball club.
“If you were watching social media before the game you would think it’s life or death. And the fans were just amazing today. Both teams made it fun. You can either let it affect you from positive or negative way you get and the more experience you have, you can use that crowd energy.”
Texas and Texas A&M have played baseball against each other since 1904, but the stakes had never been higher than on Saturday. It was their first time facing each other in the CWS, and the loser would go home.
Texas was the team with the bluest blood; it has six national championships and is the winningest Division I baseball program of all time, while the Aggies hadn’t won a CWS game in 29 years.
Dallas, who grew up in Aubrey, Texas – nicknamed Horse Country, USA – was unfazed. In heat ratings that hit triple digits, he appeared to work through the first two innings, throwing 51 pitches and giving up two runs.
Dallas said A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle spoke with him after the first run. “Just keep doing you,” Schlossnagle told him. It gave him confidence, Dallas said. He continued to thwart the Longhorns until the start of the sixth, and by then the Aggies had built an 8-2 lead. Texas staged a final rally in the sixth, when Silas Ardoin and Dylan Campbell singled out with no outs.
That’s when the Aggies brought in Jacob Palisch. The Stanford graduate transfer hit the next two hitters then walked Mitchell Daly, who yelled, “Let’s go!” in the UT dugout. He loaded the bases for Longhorns hitter Ivan Melendez, who led the nation in home runs and RBIs.
Melendez connected on an opposite field drive that sailed foul. Burnt orange, brown and white fans rose. Melendez hit looking for an inside knee fastball.
Palisch raised his fist. Melendez raised his body in disbelief.
After the game, Texas coach David Pierce said he felt “numb”.
“I mean, I thought we had momentum at the start of the game,” he said. “We caught one in the first, I think one in the second. You just – getting over the big innings has been the story for the last three months. And that jumped out at us today. And I think that’s just focused on the position of the players and I feel like at that time I’m constantly playing uphill. Maybe it caught up with us, that feeling. We spent a lot of time standing on the pitch today.
The Aggies (43-19) appeared to be the looser team on Saturday. They gave receiver Troy Claunch a Pringles chip when he scored in the second inning to even the score at 2-2. The Pringles routine, or call it what you will, started in March when the Aggies lost to Houston. Schlossnagle told the team that winning had to be like Pringles: you can’t eat just one.
Now when they score points or invent a big play, they eat Pringles.
A&M fans showed up at the team hotel on Sunday morning to send the Aggies on the team bus. Seth Martin, a College Station resident who sits in Section 203 during home baseball games, punched the players and headed to the stadium with his own survival kit: a brown A&M koozie, a vial of bubbles to pop after each score, and, of course, a can of Pringles.
“Everybody hates TU,” Martin said, reversing the team’s initials.
“Can you tell how excited we are? We’re pumped.”
The Texas-Texas A&M rivalry lost some of its shine in 2012, when the Aggies moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. For three years, the teams did not face each other. In 2015, they agreed to an annual game on Tuesdays. Among the major sports, baseball teams are the only ones that compete against each other.
But that will change in 2025, when Texas joins the SEC.
Dallas thought none of that late on Sunday. He said he had “conversations” with Texas during the recruiting process, but went to Texas Tech. He moved to College Station after last season, and now, as the Longhorns return home, Dallas’ incredible season continues.
“When you’re a little kid, you think about playing your biggest rival on the biggest stage,” he said, “and that’s what happened today.”