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Aggies Make Seventh Appearance at Minute Maid Park Tournament

February 28, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

HOUSTON, Texas - The No. 30 Texas A&M Aggies travel to Minute Maid Park to participate in the 2013 Astros Foundation College Classic this weekend. The slate for the Aggies includes contests versus the Houston Cougars on Friday at 7 pm, the No. 12 Rice Owls on Saturday at 7 pm and the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday at 2 pm.

The Aggies are making their seventh appearance at the College Classic and they own a 10-8 record at the tournament. The squad went 2-1 at the Classic in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009 and 1-2 in 2005 and 2011.

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS

  • FRIDAY: #32 Kyle Martin (Sr., RHP, 0-1, 1.98) vs. Houston #28 Matt Hernandez (Sr., LHP, 1-1, 4.91)
  • SATURDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (So., RHP, 1-0, 1.35) vs. Rice TBA
  • SUNDAY: #55 Rafael Pineda (Jr., RHP, 1-0, 1.35) vs. North Carolina TBA

STREAKING
Krey Bratsen, Mikey Reynolds and Daniel Mengden all enter the Astros Foundation College Classic with considerable hit streaks in tack. Bratsen and Reynolds are both on nine-game hit streaks. Bratsen's streak is one game shy of a career-high and he is hitting .400 (14-for-35) with five runs, one double and six RBI during the stretch. Reynolds' streak is a career long, topping his seven-game stretch of 2012. He is batting .472 over the span with six runs, one double and eight RBI. Mengden is on a career-long eight-game hit streak, hitting .407 with three runs, one triple and six RBI over the span.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

  • RADIO - Fans can listen locally on WTAW-AM 1620 on Friday and Sunday and KZNE-AM 1150 on Saturday ... Will Johnson on the play-by-play and Dave South will alternate games on the play-by-play and Kevin Hurley will provide color ... pregame show begins 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
  • INTERNET - aggieathletics.com will offer live play-by-play and statistics.
  • MOBILE PHONE - listen to the game on your iPhone, Blackberry or PDA free of charge ... log on to radioaggieland.com for more information.

TEXAS A&M/HOUSTON SERIES NOTABLES
Houston is the fifth-most played series for Texas A&M with 165 contests to date. The Aggies own a 109-55-1 edge in the all-time series. The 109 victories rank sixth for the Aggies against one team, trailing Baylor (180), Rice (177), TCU (160), Texas (123) and now-defunct SMU (116). Texas A&M has won 13 of the last 18 games. The last time the teams met was 2011 when the teams split. The Aggies won 11-4 at Minute Maid Park and the Cougars won 3-2 in College Station. In the Houston College Classic win, Tyler Naquin hit for the cycle, going 4-for-6 with one double, one triple, one home run, two runs and six RBI. Krey Bratsen went 2-for-4 with three runs and one RBI. Naquin went 2-for-2 in the loss at Olsen Field and the Cougars scored the winning run in the top of the ninth.

MORE ON HOUSTON
Houston is 6-2 on the season and enters the tournament on a three-game win streak. The Cougars won their final two games of a road series at Texas State (1-0, 4-2) and pounded Houston Baptist at home, 10-2. . Junior outfielder Jonathan Davis is hitting .400 (8-for-20) while the rest of the squad is hitting just .240 (59-for-246). The Cougars pitching staff has been stingy, posting a 2.12 ERA and allowing two or less runs in four of their games. Houston boasts 26 former players who went on to Major League Baseball, headlined by 1990 Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek, 18-year veteran Tom Paciorek and two-time All-Star outfielder Michael Bourn.

TEXAS A&M/RICE SERIES NOTABLES
Rice is the third-most played series for Texas A&M with 274 contests to date. The Aggies own a 177-95-2 edge in the all-time series and the 177 victories is the second-most for A&M against one team trailing only 180 wins against Baylor. Rice has won the last three contests and own a 4-2 mark against the Aggies since 2009, despite A&M outscoring the Owls 18-14. In their 2012 meeting in College Station, the Aggies took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first, but were unable to hold the lead in a 5-4 loss. Tyler Naquin and Matt Juengel each had two hits in the loss.

MORE ON RICE
The Owls are 6-2 on the season after a four-game sweep at Hawaii. Rice won the opener 2-0 in 17 innings and then won the last three by a combined 15-6, including 5-0 in the final game. The Owls are coached by four-time national coach of the year and 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham who has 1,533 overall wins and 959 wins at Rice. The Owls have won 17 consecutive conference titles, including the SWC (1996), Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and Conference USA (2006-12). Rice also has 18 consecutive 40-win seasons. The Owls boast 32 former players who went on to Major League Baseball, headlined by six-time All-Star Lance Berkman, former Nasty Boy Norm Charlton and 12-year veteran Jose Cruz Jr.

TEXAS A&M/NORTH CAROLINA SERIES NOTABLES
The Aggies and Tar Heels have met on two prior occasions, with Texas A&M winning by a combined tally of 21-2. Both games came in postseason play in the mid-1990s. The Aggies beat North Carolina 14-2 as part of the NCAA Central I Regional at Olsen Field on May 30, 1993 en route to a College World Series appearance. Texas A&M toppled the Tar Heels, 7-0, as part of the NCAA Atlantic II Regional in Coral Gables on May 28, 1995.

MORE ON NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels enter the tournament with a 7-0 record, roughing up competition from the Northeast in six games. North Carolina swept a two-game set from Seton Hall, three-game series from Stony Brook and toppled St. John's in its last game, 18-5. It marked the second time on the year that UNC had scored 17 or more runs. The Tar Heels are batting .332 on the year and averaging 10.0 runs per game. UNC pitchers have a 2.14 ERA and have allowed two or less runs in five of the seven games.

EVERY DAY PITCHER
Redshirt freshman Matt Kent comes to the park ready to pitch every day. The left-hander has appeared in seven of the Aggies' 10 games on the season. A clear situational pitcher, Kent has thrown five or less pitches in six of his seven outings.

NOTES AND NOTABLES

  • Head coach Rob Childress is in his eighth season at the helm of the Texas A&M baseball program, beginning the year with a 296-156-2 record. Last season, he led the Aggies to the postseason for a school-record sixth-consecutive season.
  • Texas A&M welcomes back 17 letterwinners, including five positional starters, from last season's 43-18 team that advanced to the NCAA Championship. The Aggies return two All-Big 12 Second Team performers in Troy Stein (C) and Mikey Reynolds. They are joined by Blake Allemand (INF) and Kyle Martin (RHP) who garnered All-Big 12 Honorable Mention a year ago. Allemand and Chance Bolcerek were Big 12 All-Freshman selections.

FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER:  #32 KYLE MARTIN
After 77 relief appearances in his first three seasons, senior Kyle Martin made his first collegiate start on opening night ... Despite no-decision and a team loss in the opener, Martin tallied career-highs with 6.2 IP and 10 strikeouts and the two runs he allowed were unearned ... He has yet to walk a batter on the season and has  His 79 appearances ranks sixth on A&M's career list ... Last season Martin served as the Aggies' closer, going 6-5 with seven saves and a 3.20 ERA ... He was All-Big 12 Honorable Mention as a junior.

SATURDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER:  #15 DANIEL MENGDEN
Sophomore Daniel Mengden is making his seventh career start and his third career weekend start ... He is the only Aggie weekend starter to win each of his first two starts in 2013 ... In his last outing he tied a career-long with 7.0 IP against Pepperdine and registered a career-high eight strikeouts ... As a freshman, he made four weekday starts going 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 26.2 innings ... He twice pitched 7.0 innings, including an effort at Sam Houston State where he pitched 7.0 scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out four ... In his seven starts, he is 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.

SUNDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER:  #55 RAFAEL PINEDA
Junior Rafael Pineda is making his 18th career start, all in the weekend rotation ... He spent the entire 2012 season as the Aggies' Sunday starter, amassing a 5-1 record and 2.71 ERA ... Pineda earned a victory in his start against Pepperdine in 2012 ... He allowed two runs on six hits while striking out three over 5.2 innings ... He did not earn a decision against Pepperdine despite allowing just one run on six hits while striking out three over 7.0 innings.

POSTSEASON STREAK CONTINUES INTO 2013
Prior to the arrival of head coach Rob Childress, Texas A&M had never appeared in the NCAA Tournament more than four consecutive years. Hosting an NCAA Regional in 2012 extended the Aggies current string to six consecutive years, something that had never happened before in the program's 112 year history.

Childress has led the Aggies to the postseason each of the last six seasons, topping the previous-high water mark of four-straight trips, a feat that had happened only twice before at Texas A&M. Former head coach Tom Chandler led his squad to the NCAA Regionals each season from 1975 to 1978 and 11 years later the Aggies enjoyed a similar four-year run from 1986-89 under the direction of head coach Mark Johnson.

TRUE FRESHMEN
The Aggies had eight true freshmen make appearances through 10 games on the season. Jonathan Moroney has started eight games in leftfield. He is hitting .286 with one double, one triple and four RBI. Logan Taylor has made four starts with two apiece at first base and third base. He is hitting .250 with two doubles and three runs scored. Cory Raley made one start in rightfield and two appearances as a pinch-runner. He is hitting .333 with one run scored. JB Moss has one hit and one run in six at-bats and Hunter Melton has made one appearance as a defensive replacement at first base. Grayson Long has made two appearances on the mound, including one start. He is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and nine strikeouts over 11.1 innings. Andrew Vinson has made three appearances and AJ Minter has three for a combined 3.2 shutout innings.

NEW ARMS
This season, seven pitchers have taken the mound as Aggies for the first time, including three true freshmen. The seven pitchers have combined to allow just three earned runs on 24 hits and nine walks over 30.2 innings. True freshman Grayson Long leads the group, posting a 1-0 mark with a 1.59 ERA over 11.1 innings. Redshirt freshman Matt Kent has made seven appearances, racking up 3.1 frames, with one run for a 2.70 ERA. Junior Jason Jester has three saves, which all both over 1.0 innings. True freshmen Andrew Vinson (2.0 IP) and AJ Minter (1.2 IP), and redshirt freshman Ty Schlottmann (1.1 IP) are all unscathed on the year. Sophomore transfer Zach Brashear has allowed two unearned runs over 4.1 innings.

THE GO-GO AGGIES
It's early in the season, but the Aggies' are on a school-record pace for stolen bases with 28 through 10 games. The current pace would give A&M 157 through a 56-game season. The school record is 151 set in 2007. Krey Bratsen and Mickey Reynolds share the team lead with six steals apiece. Blake Allemand has five steals and Charlie Curl has chipped in with four. Last season, A&M tallied 129 stolen bases which rank third.

MARTIN NOW APPEARING
Now the Aggies' Friday night starter, Kyle Martin spent his first three seasons as a stalwart in the bullpen. He currently ranks sixth on A&M's career list with 79 appearances. It will be a harder record to reach as a starter, but he's chasing Kyle Thebeau's record of 103 appearances between 2006-09.

BRATSEN STEALING THE SHOW
With six stolen bases on the year, junior OF Krey Bratsen moved into fourth place on the Aggies career stolen bases charts with 58. He is five steals from third place, trailing No. 3 Steven Truitt (63 - 1997-99). Jason Tyner owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98.

Bratsen stole 31 bases as a freshman, the seventh-best season in school history. Last season, Bratsen racked up 21 stolen bases.

STARTING PITCHERS DOMINANT EARLY IN THE SEASON
Two times through the rotation, Texas A&M starting pitchers are 6-1 with a 1.76 ERA through 10 starts. The Aggies starting rotation has allowed 47 hits and 10 walks while striking out 53 over 61.1 innings. The starting staff is holding opponents to a .217 batting average.

Daniel Mengden and Corey Ray both went 2-0 over the first two weeks. Mengden owns a 1.42 ERA and has allowed just one walk while striking out 10 over 12.2 innings. Ray owns a 2.31 ERA and has posted 12 strikeouts in 11.2 innings.

Kyle Martin has been the hard-luck pitcher to date, getting just 1.50 runs in support per game. He is 0-1 with a 1.98 ERA. He has not walked a batter through 13.2 innings and has 16 strikeouts. 

WEEKEND STARTERS
Kyle Martin, Daniel Mengden and Rafael Pineda have combined to go 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA the first two times through the weekend rotation. The trio has combined to allow just two walks while striking out 34 batters over 39.1 innings of work.

UP NEXT
Texas A&M returns to action on Tuesday when the Aggies host the Prairie View A&M Panthers in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

- aTm -

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