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A&M Hosts Columbia on Tuesday

March 17, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies open a five-game home stand on Tuesday with a non-conference affair against the Columbia Lions of the Ivy League. The Maroon and White are looking to build on last Sunday’s 9-0 win over Auburn in which the Aggies pounded out 15 hits and posted their fifth shutout of the season.

Texas A&M’s pitching staff boasts a 2.29 earned run average and .219 opponent batting average. The Aggie hurlers have fanned 170 batters in 184.2 innings. Tuesday starter Tyler Stubblefield is 3-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work. He’s holding opponents to a .222 batting average in his eight appearances, including four starts.

The Aggies enter Tuesday’s game with a .276 batting average, .360 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage. The Maroon and White have four players hitting over .300, including Patrick McLendon (.347, 12 runs, two doubles, one triple, one home run and 13 RBI), Troy Stein (.340, five runs, four doubles and nine RBI), Cole Lankford (.325, 11 runs, six doubles, one home run, 14 RBI and three stolen bases) and Jace Statum (.302, eight runs, two doubles, four home runs and four stolen bases).

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (14-7, 1-2 SEC) vs. COLUMBIA LIONS (5-7, 0-0 Ivy)
MARCH 17, 2014

SCHEDULE - Tuesday 6:35 pm
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620  Dave South play-by-play
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RANKINGS - Texas A&M - 26th (NCBWA)
SERIES HISTORY - first meeting
SERIES STREAKS - first meeting

• Baseball Bingo
• Junior Aggie Club members get in free

• TUESDAY:        #51 Tyler Stubblefield (Fr., LHP, 3-1, 0.99) vs #21 George Thanopoulos (So., RHP, 1-0, 4.26)

The Aggies and Lions are meeting for the first time on the baseball diamond. Texas A&M is 3-1 all-time against members of the Ivy League with two of the wins coming NCAA Regional action. The last meeting came on June 6, 2010 when the Aggies toppled Dartmouth, 4-3, at the Coral Gables Regional. In 1993, the Aggies beat Yale, 13-1, at the College Station Regional on Olsen Field. A&M played two games against Cornell in College Station in 1974, winning 14-2 and losing 14-9.

Columbia enters Tuesday’s game with a 5-7 mark as the Lions are in the midst of a grueling 18-game roadstand to start the season.  The Lions started their season the third weekend of the year, snapping South Florida’s seven-game win streak. Columbia split the four-game series evenly with USF. The following weekend the Lions split a two-game series at Kennesaw State. Last weekend, Columbia started a nine-game Texas road-swing at UTSA. The Lions lost three of four to the Roadrunners.

Columbia is hitting .252 on the year with a .328 on-base percentage and .297 slugging percentage. Three Lions’ starters are hitting over .300, including Jordan Serena (.367, 13 runs, four doubles, two RBI and five stolen bases), Nick Maguire (.367, five runs, one double, one triple and two RBI) and Logan Boyher (.333, four runs, six RBI).

The Lions’ pitching staff owns a 4.96 ERA and owns a .284 opponent batting average. Tuesday’s probable starter George Thanopoulos is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in four outings covering 6.1 innings. This marks his first start of 2014.

Last season, Columbia finished 28-21 overall and won the Ivy League with a 16-4 mark. The Lions won a best-of-three series against Dartmouth to earn the Ivy’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Championship. It marked the third NCAA appearance for Columbia. The Lions tallied their first-ever NCAA Tournament win defeating New Mexico, 6-5, in 13 innings at the Fullerton Regional.

Columbia has 11 Ivy League championships in their school annals. The Lions have appeared in three regionals, including the 1976 Northeast Regional in Storrs, Connecticut; 2008 Conway Regional; and 2013 Fullerton Regional.

Columbia boasts 13 former players who have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including two of the greatest players in the history of the game. Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig spent 17 years in the majors, amassing a .340 batting average, 2,721 hits and 493 home runs. Gehrig ranks third in Major League history in slugging percentage (.632), fifth in on-base percentage (.447), fifth in RBI (1,992), 11th in runs (1,888), 16th in batting average. Hall of Famer Eddie Collins played 25 years in the majors, posting a .333 career batting average. Collins ranks eighth in Major League history in stolen bases (741), 11th in hits (3,315), 12th in on-base percentage (.424) and 17th in runs (1,821).

The Aggies are 12-2 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .312 at home with eight players logging batting averages over .300. Patrick McLendon leads the way with a .400 mark with 11 runs and 12 RBI in 11 games. Jace Statum (.379) and Troy Stein (.353) are both hitting over .350. JB Moss has a team-high 14 runs at Blue Bell Park and Logan Nottebrok leads the squad with 15 RBI.

On the mound, the Aggies have a 1.71 ERA and are holding opponents to a .187 batting average. Grayson Long (1-0, 0.44) and Tyler Stubblefield (2-0, 0.47) have dominant on the familiar mound.

After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 13 games, including six as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter and seven starts. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 205 career games under his belt, 36 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Last weekend, Bratsen moved into 12th place on A&M’s career, tying Buddy Haney (1982-85) and Mike Hurdle (1977-80).

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.

With his two saves against Louisiana Tech, Jason Jester moved into a tie with Chris Russ (1998-2001) for second place on A&M’s career saves list with 16.. He needs seven saves to equal the career mark of 23 set by Scott Centala (1987-89).

The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 21 games this season. With Krey Bratsen and Logan Taylor returning from early season ailments, the Maroon and White are expected to continue shuffling the deck. Last season, A&M used 52 different batting orders in their 63 games. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 20. Twelve diffeent Aggies have started at least seven games this season. Logan Taylor (16 - SS) and Lankford (20 - 1B) are the only two Aggies to start more than 15 games at the same position. Seven different players have batted in the eighth spot in the batting order and six different players have hit in the seven hole.

First baseman Cole Lankford has just one strike out in 2014, going his first 19 games without being punched out. Through 84 plate appearances, the junior is batting .325 (25-for-77) with four walks and three sacrifice bunts. In 2013, Lankford struck out once every 6.9 plate appearances. Last season, he fanned 33 times in 229 plate appearances, hitting .352 (76-for-216) with nine walks, three HBP and one sacrifice fly.

The Aggies have already produced seven 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 three occasions, all in fourth innings, twice against Northeastern and once against Louisiana Tech.

Texas A&M pitchers have allowed two “big innings” by opponents, five runs in the sixth inning of the Aggies’ 6-5 loss at Fresno State and four runs in the eighth inning of the series finale against Louisiana Tech.

Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .175 (34-for-194) batting average with runners in scoring position. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the 30 batters he has faced with runners in scoring position to two walks, one HBP and one hit in 30 plate appearances, going 1-for-27 (.037). Matt Kent has faced 15 batters with runners in scoring position, allowing one walk and two hits (2-for-14 - .143).

The Aggies are also holding foes to a .197 batting average (61-for-309) with runners on base.

Texas A&M has reached double-digits in the run column four times in the first 21 games and the Maroon and White scored at least 10 runs three times in the first four games of the year. Last season, the Aggies managed to score 10 or more runs just four times for the entire season. The last time A&M scored 10 or more in three of the first four games of the season was 2011 when the Aggies post wins over Le Moyne (10-2 & 14-0) and Prairie View A&M (11-1).

The Aggies are 6-0 in midweek games in 2014, outscoring opponents by a combined 47-10 margin. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .338 with a .416 on-base percentage and .454 slugging percentage. Patrick McLendon leads the assault with a .529 (9-for-17) batting average, four runs and seven RBI in four games. Jace Statum and Mitchell Nau are both hitting .455. JB Moss has a team-high nine runs and Cole Lankford’s seven RBI are tied with McLendon for a team high.

A&M’s pitchers have a 1.33 ERA and are holding opponents to a .199 batting average in midweek games. Tyler Stubblefield has pitched 21.1 of the 54.0 innings, logging a 3-0 record and 0.42 ERA in four starts. He has held opponents to a .178 batting average and has fanned 32. Matt Kent accounts for 10.2 innings, going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three games, including two starts.

Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 21 games, making 13 appearances. He is 0-1 with a 1.76 ERA and earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington. He has allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits and three walks while striking out 15 in 15.1 innings of work. He is already well past halfway to reaching his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.

Texas A&M continues its five-game homestand on Friday when the Aggies host the Florida Gators in a three-game SEC series on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

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