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Aggies and Commodores Meet in Rematch

May 24, 2013
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

HOOVER, Alabama - The Texas A&M Aggies and No. 1 Vanderbilt Commodores meet in an elimination game in the SEC Tournament on Friday evening at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The winner of the game advances to play the No. 13 Mississippi State Bulldogs in a semifinal game on Saturday. The two teams met on Wednesday, with Texas A&M blanking Vanderbilt 5-0, the only time the Commodores have suffered a shutout in 2013. Friday’s game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the 3 pm game between Alabama and No. 2 LSU.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (32-26, 13-16 SEC) vs NO. 1 VANDERBILT (49-8, 26-3 SEC)
Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (10,800) • Hoover, Alabama

SCHEDULE – Friday – Game starts 30 minutes after the completion of the 3 pm game between Alabama and LSU.
TELEVISION – CSS and Cox Sports TV
RADIO – WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South, play-by-play)
RANKINGS – A&M - unranked • VU - #1
SERIES HISTORY – Texas A&M leads series 1-0

• Friday – Grayson Long (Fr., RHP, 4-1, 3.79 ERA) vs Tyler Beede (So., RHP, 13-0, 2.28 ERA)

Texas A&M appeared in 14 of 16 Big 12 Tournaments, winning three of the last six. The Aggies won the tournament titles in 2007, 2010 and 2011. The Maroon and White own the second-best winning percentage in tournament history (.563) with a 27-21 mark, trailing only Nebraska (.707) who went 29-12 in their 10 appearances. 2005 and 2006 were the only two seasons the Aggies didn’t make the tournament between 1997-2012.

The Aggies won SWC Tournament titles in 1986 and 1989.

Texas A&M has supplied most of the power at the 2013 SEC Tournament. There have only been five home runs through 12 games at the cavernous Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and Texas A&M has hit four of them, including three in the 5-0 win over No. 1 Vanderbilt. Hunter Melton has two of the dingers and Troy Stein and Cole Lankford have one apiece. South Carolina’s L.B. Dantzler is the only other player to hit a home run in the tournament through three days of action.

On four occasions at the SEC Tournament, Hunter Melton has registered a hit to give the Aggies the lead. In the first game of the tournament, he hit a three-run home run to give A&M a 3-2 advantage and later drove in a run on a bases-loaded single to give the Aggies a 4-3 lead against Florida. On Wednesday, he hit a solo home run against No. Vanderbilt to give Texas A&M a 1-0 lead en route to the 5-0 lead. On Thursday, his first-inning single plated a run to give A&M a 2-1 lead against No. 13 Mississippi State.  For the tournament, Melton is hitting .417 (5-for-12) with two home runs and six RBI.

The Texas A&M pitching staff has allowed just three earned runs in 27.0 innings of work at the SEC Tournament. The Aggies are holding opponents to a 1.84 batting average and own a 1.00 ERA. The staff has scattered 18 hits and five walks while striking out 23.

The Aggies bullpen has not allowed an earned run at the SEC Tournament. Four pitchers have combined to work 5.1 innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits while striking out four. Kyle Martin allowed one unearned run on three hits over 3.1 innings. Matt Kent worked a full frame, allowing one hit while striking out three. The relievers have stranded all five inherited runners at the SEC Tournament.

Texas A&M pitchers have allowed just four earned runs in the ninth innings of games this season. In 41.0 innings of ninth inning work, the bullpen has allowed five runs, four earned, on 29 hits and 14 walks while striking out 32 for a 0.88 ERA and .199 opponent batting average. Jason Jester leads the way with 20.1 scoreless innings, scattering eight hits and five walks while striking out 15. Parker Ray has worked 3.0 scoreless frames, scattering three hits and two walks while striking out one.

The Aggies slate has featured nine teams in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25 for a total of 22 games. The slate also highlights seven games against three teams in the BA Preseason Top 5 and 13 games against five teams in the BA Preseason Top 10. The Aggies play preseason No. 1 North Carolina and No. 18 Rice at the Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park. They have a non-conference road series at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton. They have SEC series at No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 7 South Carolina and No. 3 Arkansas and SEC home series against No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 10 LSU.

Fifteen teams on Texas A&M’s 2013 schedule will be coming off NCAA tournament campaigns.

Of the 15 squads who earned a berth in the field of 64 in ‘13, four hosted regionals and Arkansas and South Carolina both advanced to the College World Series in Omaha where the Gamecocks finished as national runner-up to Arizona. Nine of the Aggies’ opponents racked up 40 or more wins.

The Aggies have played a total of 33 games against 2012 NCAA tourney teams this spring.

Kyle Martin spent his first three seasons exclusively as a stalwart in the bullpen and one of the pitchers most called upon by Coach Rob Childress. He currently ranks third on A&M’s career list with 94 appearances. Martin has some work ahead of him to move up the list further as he’s chasing Kyle Thebeau’s record of 103 appearances between 2006-09. Estevan Uriegas (2009-12) ranks second with 100 appearances.

With his save in the series opener against LSU, Jason Jester tied the A&M single-season saves record of 13 set by Scott Beerer in 2003.

With 17 stolen bases on the year, junior OF Krey Bratsen moved into third place on the Aggie career stolen base charts with 69. Jason Tyner owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98. Chuck Knoblauch (1987-89) is next on the list with 83 steals.

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

Grayson Long is slated to make his ninth career start. In his most recent start, a May 14 win against UT Pan American, Long went a career-long 6.0 innings allowing one run on two hits and three walks while striking out three. He also owns wins against Texas Southern, Prairie View A&M and Dallas Baptist. In the 2-0 win against DBU, Long pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, scattering two hits and two walks while striking out five. His most notable SEC start came in a Thursday night game in which he held South Carolina to two runs on one hit and three walks while striking out five over 5.2 innings. He was left with no decision in the Aggies 3-2 loss to the Gamecocks.

In the last 14 games, Hunter Melton is hitting .362 (21-for-58) with seven runs, two doubles, one triple, four home runs and 12 RBI. Prior to the outburst, the Corsicana-native was hitting just .171 (7-for-41), but he did have two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in the 14 games.

Player           AVG  GP-GS  AB   R   H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  SLG%  BB HBP  SO   OB%
First 44 games  .171  14-12  41   4   7    2   0   2    7  .366   7   0  12  .292 
Last 14 games   .362  14-14  58   7  21    2   1   4   12  .638   1   1  14  .383

The only player to play in every game for the Aggies, Krey Bratsen has gone through some hot and cold stretches. He’s currently on one of his hot streaks, getting a hit in 11 of the last 12 games and registering a .439 batting average (18-for-41).

Player        AVG  GP-GS   AB   R   H  RBI  TB  SLG%  BB HBP   OB%  SF  SH  SB-ATT  
Games 1-12   .356  12-12   45   6  16   7   17  .378   2   1  .396   0   4   6-7    
Games 13-24  .132  12-12   38   7   5   4    6  .158   6   0  .244   1   5   2-3   
Games 25-33  .406   9-9    32   4  13   5   14  .438   4   2  .487   1   4   3-3   
Games 34-46  .160  13-13   50   3   8   2   10  .200   2   1  .208   0   3   3-4    
Games 47-58  .439  12-12   41   8  18   4   24  .585   0   1  .442   1   1   3-3

Outfielder Jace Statum has raised his batting average 39 points in the last 12 games. Statum played in 37 of the Aggies first 46 games, with 25 starts, hitting .216 with a .243 slugging percentage and .356 on-base percentage. After hitting .344 with a .375 slugging percentage and .432 on-base percentage the last 11 games, he has his season batting average up to .267. Statum’s .344 batting average the last 12 games ranks second on the squad behind only Krey Bratsen’s .439 and Daniel Mengden’s .367.

Player          AVG  GP-GS   AB   R   H  RBI  TB  SLG%  BB HBP  OB%  SF SH  SB-ATT  
First 46 games .216  37-25   74  15  16    6  18  .243  16   0 .356   6  6   6-10
Last 12 games  .344  12-11   32   6  11    1  12  .375   5   0 .432   0  3   3-4  

After going through a stretch in which he went 1-3 with four no decisions over a span of eight starts despite a 2.22 ERA, Daniel Mengden has taking things to the next level over his last four starts. During the stretch, he is 4-0 with a 1.06 ERA and he is holding opponents to a .168 batting average with 30 strikeouts over 34.0 innings. Mengden started the season going 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA and .176 opponent batting average in his first three starts.

Player           ERA   W-L  AP GS CG   IP    H   R  ER  BB  SO  B/Avg
First 3 Starts   2.18  3-0   3  3  0  20.2  12   5   5   5  18  .176
Middle 8 Starts  2.22  1-3   8  8  0  52.2  41  18  13  10  43  .214
Last 4 Starts    1.06  4-0   4  4  2  34.0  19   6   4   6  30  .168

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