COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Aggies host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in their last non-conference series of the season. A&M enters the fray with a 9-4 record following midweek wins over UT Arlington (5-4) and Texas Southern (6-0).
The weekend has a chance to be historic for Texas A&M Baseball as a series sweep would give the Maroon and White 2,500 wins in program history, the first member of the SEC and the 12th in NCAA Division I history to reach the plateau.
With his next game played, senior Krey Bratsen would become the 16th player in program to play in 200 career games in the Maroon and White. The Aggies’ Sunday starter Grayson Long is working on a 19.1 inning shutout streak this season through his first three starts.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (9-4, 0-0 SEC) vs. LOUISIANA TECH BULLDOGS (4-8, 1-2 C-USA)
MARCH 7-9, 2014
OLSEN FIELD AT BLUE BELL PARK • COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS
SCHEDULE: Friday 6:35 pm; Saturday 1:05 pm (**change due to weather**); Sunday 1:05 pm
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620 - Dave South play-by-play
LIVE VIDEO: aggieathletics.com (with premium subscription)
LIVE AUDIO: aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS: tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS: Texas A&M - 25th (NCBWA)
SERIES HISTORY: A&M leads 24-7
SERIES STREAKS: A&M has won the last two meetings
Have A Catch – fans invited to play catch in the outfield 30 minutes after the game
Hardball and Hoops Twin Bill – with Saturday's men’s basketball ticket, get $5 general admission baseball ticket. With Saturday's baseball ticket, get $5 balcony ticket to men's basketball
Junior Aggie Club Kids Clinic – JAC members stay after the game for instruction on the fundamentals of baseball from the Aggies!
Take Me Out to the Ballgame – one adult ticket gets one kid in free
JAC Free Admission – Junior Aggie Club members get in free
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., 1-2, 3.15) vs #35 Adam Derouen (So., RHP, 0-0, 3.18)
• SATURDAY: #54 Parker Ray (Sr., RHP, 1-0, 4.32) vs #24 Phil Maton (Jr., RHP, 0-1, 3.50)
• SUNDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 1-0, 0.00) vs #44 Richie Navari (Sr., RHP, 2-0, 1.89)
TEXAS A&M/LOUISIANA TECH SERIES NOTABLES
Texas A&M is 24-7 all-time against the Bulldogs, including 19-3 in College Station. The Aggies won the first 13 meetings from 1973-85. The squads met multiple times a year every season from 1984-91, with the Bulldogs winning the last two series, 2-of-3 in Rustin in 1990 and 2-of-3 in College Station in 1991. The last meeting came in 2008, when the Aggies posted a 7-4 win at Olsen Field.
MORE ON LOUISIANA TECH
The Bulldogs are playing in their first season in Conference USA. Louisiana Tech enters the weekend with a 4-8 record following a doubleheader split with McNeese State. LA Tech opened C-USA play the second weekend of the season, going 1-2 against Tulane.
The Bulldogs are hitting .251 as a team with three every-day starters batting over .300. Senior infielder Tyler Ervine leads the squad with a .357 batting average, one double, two home runs and 12 RBI. Junior outfielder Colby Johnson is hitting .353 with two doubles and one RBI in 10 games. Sophomore infielder Taylor Love owns a .325 batting average with one double and four RBI in 11 games. The LA Tech pitching staff has been roughed up early in the season with a 6.89 ERA and .292 opponent batting average. The highlight of the staff early on is senior northpaw Richie Navari who is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA, .200 opponent batting average and 14 strikeouts in three games.
The Bulldogs have made seven NCAA Division I Tournament appearances with the last one coming in 1987. LA Tech has played in five conferences since 1972, including the Southland Conference (1972-87), America South Conference (1988-91), Sun Belt Conference (1992-2001), WAC (2002-13).
LA Tech boasts 15 former players who have gone on two see Major League action, highlighted by 15-year veteran David Segui who logged 1,412 and 139 home runs in his career.
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #15 DANIEL MENGDEN
Mengden earned All-SEC Second Team recognition as a utility player as well as SEC All-Defensive Team recognition as a pitcher... in 2013, Mengden ranked fourth in the SEC in innings pitched (110.2), fifth in opponents’ batting average (.201), sixth in strikeouts (94), seventh in wins (8), ninth in ERA (2.11)... Pitched the Aggies’ only two complete games in 2013, both in SEC play... went 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA in league games... in SEC action, ranked second in the league in innings (71.2), fourth in ERA (1.88) and opponents’ batting average (.198) and fifth in strikeouts (56)... pitched for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer... current ERA (2.68) ranks 14th on A&M’s career list (minimum 100 IP)... Leads the SEC in strikeouts heading into the weekend with 27.
SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #54 PARKER RAY
In 2013, ranked fifth in the SEC in ERA (1.73) and 10th in opponents’ batting average (.213)... Appeared in 10 SEC games, including four starts, logging a 0-1 record, 2.80 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 35.1 innings... Started the 2013 campaign in the bullpen, posting a 0.69 ERA in 26.0 innings of work over 17 appearances, walking five and striking out 16... stepped up in the postseason going 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 16.2 innings of work in wins over Vanderbilt (5/22) at the SEC Tournament and UTSA (6/1) at the NCAA Corvallis Regional... needs 1.2 innings to qualify, but his current ERA (2.11) would rank sixth on A&M’s career list (minimum 100.0 IP).
SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #38 GRAYSON LONG
Appeared in 12 games as a freshman, including 10 starts, registering a 4-2 record and a 3.52 ERA... Notched a 4-0 record with a 2.28 ERA in six midweek starts, logging 23 strikeouts in 27.2 innings... Tied for the SEC lead with ERA (0.00)... Has worked the most innings without giving up a run in the SEC this season with 19.1... LSU’s Aaron Nola is the only other starting pitcher with no runs allowed through three starts (19.0 IP).
GREAT STARTS Texas A&M starting pitchers combined to log a 6-2 record and 1.84 ERA through the first 13 games of the season. Matt Kent, Grayson Long and Tyler Stubblefield own sub-1.00 ERAs in starting roles. Kent scattered three hits and one walk while striking out nine in 6.0 IP in his only start. Long has not allowed a run through 19.1 innings of work, scattering 11 hits and five walks while striking out 12. He is holding opponents to a .164 batting average. Stubblefield is 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA in his three starts. He has allowed just two runs, one earned, on 11 hits and four walks while striking out 26 over 16.1 innings and holding opponents to a .186 batting average.
NOTES AND NOTABLES
• Head coach Rob Childress enters his ninth season at the helm of the Texas A&M baseball program, beginning the year with a 332-186-2 record. Last season, he led the Aggies to the postseason to extend their school-record streak to seven consecutive seasons.
• Texas A&M welcomes back 17 letterwinners, including seven positional starters, from last season’s 34-29 team that advanced to the NCAA Championship. The Aggies return two All-SEC Second Team performers in Krey Bratsen (OF) and Daniel Mengden (UT). They are joined by Cole Lankford who earned SEC All-Defensive Team recognition at first base along with Mengden on the mound.
• The Aggies are ranked in one of the four major college baseball polls, earning the No. 25 spot in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. The Aggies fell out of the Baseball America Top 25 and Collegiate Baseball Top 30 after suffering a three-game sweep at Fresno State.
The Aggies’ bullpen allowed just 12 runs in 36.1 innings of work over the first 13 games, earning three wins. The reserves sported a 2.48 ERA and .213 opponent batting average in the first three weeks, allowing 10 earned runs on 29 hits, including 23 singles, and 13 walks while striking out 30. Andrew Vinson has led the charges making eight appearances covering 10.2 innings. He has an 0-1 record with a 1.69 ERA and one save, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits and two walks while striking out 12.
NOTTEBROK TOUCHED WITH OLSEN MAGIC
Hundreds of Aggies before him have gone their whole career without providing Olsen Magic. Logan Nottebrok delivered a special moment for the 12th Man twice in his first six games in College Station.
The first weekend of the season wrapped up with a 1-0 win over Northeastern to complete a three-game sweep. The victory was earned when Logan Nottebrok hit a 1-0 offering from the Huskies’ Brad Burcroff over the leftfield fence for a leadoff and walk-off home run. It marked the first walk-off home run for Texas A&M since May 29, 2011 when Andrew Collazo hit a walk-off dinger in the Big 12 Championship title game against Missouri for a 10-9 victory.
In the Aggies’ 7-5 win vs. Sacramento State, Nottebrok hit a two-run home run to the same location, to break the 5-5 tie for the walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth.
EVERY DAY PITCHER
Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 13 games, making eight appearances. He is 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA and earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington. He has allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and two walks while striking out 12 in 10.2 innings of work. He already halfway to reaching his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.
BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in seven games, including five as a defensive replacement and starts in the last two games. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 199 career games under his belt, 42 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). With one more game, Bratsen will become the 16th Aggie to play in 200 games.
As a freshman, Bratsen played in all 69 games, including 68 starts. In 2012, he played in 60 games, including 55 starts. Last season, Bratsen was the only Aggie to start all 63 games.
BRATSEN STEALING THE SHOW
Senior Krey Bratsen is flying up the Aggies career stolen bases charts with 71 which ranks third. He is just 13 steals from second place, trailing No. 2 Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89). 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. As a sophomore he swiped 21 bases and followed up with 18 in 2013.
WITH BASES LOADED
The Aggies are currently hitting .333 (5-for-15) with four walks, two HBP and four sacrifice flies in 25 plate appearances (.440 OBP) with bases loaded. A&M has two doubles and 19 RBI with a pond full of Aggies. Cole Lankford leads the squad going 2-for-2 with two doubles, two sacrifice flies and four RBI in four plate appearances with bases loaded.
IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .455 (5-for-11) with one walk in 12 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (2-for-2, one double, 2 RBI), Ryne Birk (2-for-3) and JB Moss (1-for-2) account for the five hits.
MORE GREAT STARTS
A&M is outscoring opponents 12-0 in the first inning of games. Aggie pitchers have yielded just five hits (four singles and one triple) and four walks in the first inning of the first 13 games of the season. The opponents are hitting just .116 with 16 strikeouts in the first inning of games. Tyler Stubblefield has six first-inning strikeouts in his three starts. Parker Ray has struck out four of the 10 batters he has faced in 3.0 hitless first innings.
Texas A&M has scored first in eight of the 13 games this season and the Maroon and White own a 40-8 scoring advantage in the first four innings of games this season. Aggie pitchers are holding opponents to a .116 batting average in the first inning and .136 batting average in the third inning. In the first four innings of games, A&M pitchers have allowed just seven earned runs on 37 hits and 14 walks while striking out 60 over 52.0 innings. On the offensive end, the Aggies are hitting .315 with 13 runs, four doubles, one triple and 12 RBI in the second innings and .340 with 12 runs, two doubles and 11 RBI in fourth innings.
The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 13 games this season. With projected starters Krey Bratsen and Logan Taylor out early with illness and injury, the Maroon and White are expected to continue shuffling the deck. Last season, A&M used 52 different batting orders in their 63 games. Logan Nottebrok is the only Aggies to start in all 13 games this season. Sixteen different Aggies have started at least two games this season.
The Aggies have already produced six innings in which they have scored four or more runs this season. By contrast, A&M produced just 11 “big innings” in the entire 63-game season in 2013. In both the Aggies’ 11-2 win over Northeastern and 12-3 win over Stephen F Austin, the Maroon and White produced multiple “big innings”. The highest run total in an inning this season is five on two occasions, both in a fifth inning against Northeastern.
Texas A&M pitchers have allowed one “big inning” by opponents, five runs in the sixth inning of the Aggies’ 6-5 loss at Fresno State.
BEARING DOWN WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION
Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .188 (21-for-112) batting average with runners in scoring position. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the 17 batters he has faced with runners in scoring position to one walk in 17 plate appearances, going 0-for-16. Matt Kent has faced nine batters with runners in scoring position, striking out six and allowing just one hit (1-for-9 - .111).
OPPONENT POWER OUTAGE
Aggie pitchers have held opponents to just one home run in the first 13 games of the season. The Maroon and White limited the opponent to just 14 extra-base hits, including 11 doubles and two triples. A&M owns a 5-1 edge in home runs this season. The opponents’ slugging percentage is an anemic .251 compared to a .343 slugging percentage for Aggie hitters.
Texas A&M wraps up its six-game homestand with a two-game set against UT Pan American. The Aggies and Broncs play at 6:35 pm on Tuesday and 3:05 pm on Wednesday.
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