Texas A&M, Roa Seize Huge OpportunityColumns
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — We’ve got a sneaking suspicion Texas A&M will not list its projected No. 3 weekend starting pitcher as ‘TBA’ next weekend against Kentucky.
Entering Southeastern Conference play this past weekend against Vanderbilt, the Aggies listed the weekend starters as John Doxakis, Asa Lacy and ‘TBA’ in the pre-series press release. A&M coach Rob Childress figured he’d ride a hunch and hot hand in the series finale.
He chose to ride with sophomore righthander Christian Roa, who made his first career start against Gonzaga two weekends ago, allowing a run in 4.1 innings. But Vanderbilt isn’t Gonzaga. No disrespect to the Bulldogs, but the Commodores entered the weekend with one of the nation’s premier offenses, so it would be the biggest challenge of Roa’s young career. Or, so we thought.
Roa put together the most impressive starting pitching performance by either team this weekend, as he tossed seven shutout innings to lead the Aggies, who entered SEC play with some question marks, to a 7-0 victory and a series win over the nation’s top-ranked team.
“He had a four-pitch mix going and he certainly slowed their bats,” Childress said. “Obviously, 1-9, that’s a very, very special lineup, so for him to go out there and have him be the guy who had the best start of the weekend by a long shot — to me, that says a lot about his performance.”
And as for his role moving forward?
“TBA? Yeah, I would say that’s a pretty easy decision [moving forward],” Childress added with a big smile.
Though Roa showed improvement in the fall, he entered the spring with an undefined role. He threw 3.1 innings out of the bullpen in the season-opening series against Fordham before throwing a maximum of 1.2 innings in his next five appearances. But on a Sunday afternoon at the Shriners College Classic, two things happened in a game against Houston: Talented freshman lefthander Jonathan Childress unfortunately went down with a season-ending UCL injury, and Roa came out of the bullpen against the Cougars and sat 92-94 mph with a downhill fastball. He showed good stuff and a mean streak, each an attribute that Childress covets.
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