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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Grambling State baseball ready to give Texas A&M ‘hell’ in NCAA Tournament opener


The Grambling State baseball team will take on a tall task when they open the Bryan-College Station Regional bracket of the NCAA Division I tournament against host school Texas A&M.

But for head coach Davin Pierre and his team, it will be a showcase for the Tigers, who have won the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament for the first time since 2010.

“We’re extremely excited to be here,” Pierre said during the team’s opening press conference earlier this week. “We get an opportunity to go out and show the world that we play a really good brand of baseball, and it’s to be respected.”

Grambling State earned their trip to the NCAA tournament by winning wild and improbable games. Senior third baseman Cam Bufford’s three-run homer in the top of the 9th  eliminated defending conference champion Florida A&M 14-11. Then, the Tigers walked off Jackson State 6-5 to win the championship game.

For Bufford, the SWAC Tournament MVP, and senior pitcher Mason Martinez (who leads Division I in strikeouts), the moment won’t be too big for the Tigers.

“I’ve been playing baseball since I was 5 years old. I’m kind of used to these moments,” said Bufford. “I played in the 2014 Little League World Series. This is nothing new to me.”

Bufford was one of the stars of the Jackie Robinson West (Chicago) team that reached the Little League World Series championship game.

“Baseball was made to be a kid’s game, so you have to go out there and not think of it as life or death,” Martinez added. “You either get better, get worse or stay the same.”

The Aggies, College World Series participants in 2022, come in with a record of 44-13 and were eliminated in the early rounds of the Southeastern Conference tournament. There may be some nerves as Grambling hits the field this afternoon, but they’re confident the bond they have as a team will give them an added boost—a bond that is literally sealed in ink.

“We talked about getting tattoos if we won the SWAC championship,” Pierre said. “So we got the phrase that we use, ‘Hell Baby, We Grambling’ tattoos. It means family; it means perseverance…we talk about not the ‘G’ on your hat on your chest but the ‘G’ in your heart. It means a lot of different things, but one thing it does mean is that we will fight for Grambling State University.”

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Who: Grambling State vs. Texas A&M

When: Friday, noon

TV/Streaming: ESPN+

 



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