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Asa Lacy Pitches Texas A&M To Big Win, Shows Off First-Round Promise

HOUSTON — Texas A&M and Texas Christian have played some classic games in recent seasons, building the rivalry between the two teams. There were the back-to-back super regional showdowns in 2015 and ’16 (both won by TCU) and the memorable games that came out of those series, as well as a 15-inning marathon two years ago at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic (also won by TCU).

The Aggies and Horned Frogs returned to center stage Saturday night at this year’s Shriners College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston. And, again, they provided fans with another excellent edition of the rivalry.

Behind an outstanding start from sophomore lefthander Asa Lacy, Texas A&M defeated No. 24 TCU, 1-0. Lacy and relievers Bryce Miller, Joseph Menefee and Kasey Kalich combined for a one-hitter to edge the Horned Frogs.

As well as Texas A&M pitched, TCU’s duo of junior lefthander Brandon Williamson and junior righthander Jake Eissler nearly matched the effort. They combined to hold the Aggies to four hits.

“(Williamson and Lacy) are going to pitch for an awfully long time,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Williamson was equally as impressive as Lacy. Those two guys are special, they’re fun to watch.”

Williamson threw his fastball 91-94 mph, mixed in a sharp slider and also showed a changeup and curveball. He momentarily lost his command in the third inning and walked a run home—the game’s lone run—but otherwise flummoxed the Aggies hitters. The junior college transfer has started the season well and is 1-1, 1.98 with 17 strikeouts, seven walks and 10 hits in 13.2 innings, and he looks the part of a top-five rounds pick.

As good as Williamson was, Lacy stole the show. He came to Texas A&M as a premier recruit and pitched well out of the bullpen as a freshman. But after a breakout summer in the Alaska League, he has come into his own and now looks like a first-round pick in the 2020 draft.

On Saturday, Lacy, listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, touched 96 mph with his fastball and sat 93-95 mph. His changeup has long been his go-to secondary offering, but he showed a slider and curveball as well, and threw strikes with all four of his offerings.

“I thought his stuff was really explosive,” Childress said. “Got the changeup going at times. Used the slider maybe more than we did a week ago. I thought he was very determined (Saturday).”

Lacy struck out nine batters and, after giving up a leadoff single in the sixth, he retired the final six batters he faced. But at times he was wild as well, walking three batters and hitting two. He pitched with the leadoff runner on in the first six innings, but he never got into trouble, as only two of those baserunners reached second.

“I thought (my stuff) was probably the best it’s been in a while,” Lacy said. “The command early wasn’t quite there but the defense bailed me out on a few situations, which is nice to have that trust.”

One of the keys to Lacy’s development has been the improvement of his breaking balls. He has been able to find a distinct curveball and slider, which has deepened his arsenal.

Childress said when Lacy arrived in College Station, he was caught in between two breaking balls.

“He really polished up both of them,” Childress said. “Toward the end of the season and into the summer, he’s come back a very special arm.”

Lacy’s breakout gives the Aggies a dynamic pitcher to slot in the rotation behind ace John Doxakis, who threw his own gem Friday night in a victory against No. 16 Baylor. That combination has already helped to deliver a big weekend for Texas A&M in Houston and will give it a chance in every Southeastern Conference series this year.

But on Saturday night, the focus was solely on beating TCU. And on the big stage of the Shriners College Classic, Lacy did just that. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to pitch in such a big game.

“I thought it was fantastic, I loved it,” he said. “The atmosphere they have here in Houston is incredible.”

Kevin Parada Billmitchell

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