Texas A&M rides pitching into Super Regional

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Texas A&M lost ace right-hander John Stilson to a season-ending shoulder injury at the end of the regular season. Coach Rob Childress jokes that he wakes up two or three times a night crying about that injury.

But losing Stilson hasn't slowed down the Aggies (45-19) in the postseason because of their deep pitching staff. Texas A&M won four straight games to capture the Big 12 championship. Then they won three of four games in the NCAA regional to advance to play Florida State (45-17) in a best-of-three Super Regional that starts on Saturday.

"They've rallied around the fact that they've lost their No. 1 guy," said Florida State coach Mike Martin. "They have really been impressive."

For the series opener, both teams will be starting pitchers with impressive seasons as Texas A&M right-hander Ross Stripling faces Seminoles left-hander Sean Gilmartin.

Although Stripling wasn't the Aggies' top pitcher in the regular season, he has pitched like one. Stripling, a ninth-round pick by the Colorado Rockies, has a 2.28 ERA and is tied for first in the nation with 13 wins.

Gilmartin, selected in the first round by the Atlanta Braves, is just a win behind Stripling at 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA. He's pitched at least six innings in all 16 of his starts.

"Gilmartin is as good as there is in the country," said Texas A&M's Childress.

Of additional concern to Florida State's pitchers and catcher Rafael Lopez is that the Aggies have 104 stolen bases -- 15th best in Division I this season.

"That is part of our offense," Childress said. "We're going to have to put pressure on people and try to create a run."