COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Aggies open a four-game homestand on Tuesday when the Maroon and White host the Texas State Bobcats on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
A&M is hoping to maintain the momentum gained in a four-game road trip that saw the Aggies win three of four games against Top 25 teams, including one win at then-No. 16 Rice and two wins at then-No. 21 Mississippi State. Cole Lankford helped spark the road success, batting .500 (9-for-18) in the four games. Blake Allemand is batting .412 (7-for-17) over the span with five runs.
A pair of emerging pitchers made an impact last week. Corey Ray appeared in two games, including pitching 6.0 innings in the Aggies’ win at Rice. The junior allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and three walks while striking out three over 7.2 innings, posting a 1.17 ERA and .207 opponent ERA. Ty Schlottmann pitched in all three of A&M’s road victories last week and picked up saves in both wins at Mississippi State. The sophomore pitched 6.0 innings on the week, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four. He logged a 1.50 ERA and .200 opponent batting average on the week.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (27-18, 10-11 SEC) vs TEXAS STATE BOBCATS (24-20, 12-9 Sun Belt)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE – Tuesday 6:35 pm
RADIO – WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South - play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO – aggieathletics.com (premium subscription)
LIVE AUDIO – aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS – tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS - A&M – unranked; Texas State - unranked
SERIES HISTORY – Texas A&M leads the series 38-13
SERIES STREAKS – Texas State won the most recent meeting
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• TUESDAY: #22 Corey Ray (Jr., RHP, 4-0, 1.31) vs #30 Chad Young (Jr., LHP, 0-1, 3.65)
TEXAS A&M/TEXAS STATE SERIES NOTABLES
Texas A&M owns a 38-13 advantage in the all-time series against Texas State. The Bobcats took the previous meeting last season in San Marcos. The Aggies hold a 6-2 edge over the last eight contests, but have split the last four matchups. Among returnees, Cole Lankford was the top offensive performer in the 4-1 loss at Texas State a year ago, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Matt Kent, Parker Ray, AJ Minter and Jason Jester combined for 6.1 innings of scoreless relief, yielding only four hits and two walks total, but the Aggies were unable to make up the deficit, being held scoreless for the last eight innings.
MORE ON TEXAS STATE
The Bulldogs enter the fray with a 24-20 overall record and a 12-9 mark in their first season in the Sun Belt Conference. The Bobcats are third in the Sun Belt standings behind No. 4 Louisiana-Lafayette (18-3) and Arkansas State (14-7). Last season the Sun Belt Conference sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament, including Louisiana-Lafayette, South Alabama, Troy and Florida Atlantic.
This marks the Bobcats third conference in three seasons. In their final season in the Southland Conference in 2012, Texas State tied for third place with a 19-14 overall record and posted a 32-24 overall mark. Last season the Bobcats played in the Western Athletic Conference, finishing 29-29 overall and third in the conference with a 16-11 ledger.
Texas State is batting .256 as a team with a .338 on-base percentage and .350 slugging percentage. Garrett Mattlage is the lone every day starter hitting over .300 with a .322 batting average, 30 runs, eight doubles, one triple, three home runs, 35 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Part-time starter Cory Geisler is batting .313 (31-for-99) with 15 runs, two doubles, one home run, 13 RBI and six stolen bases in 25 games. Granger Studdard is hitting .293 with a team-high six home runs and 29 RBI.
The pitching staff owns a 3.49 ERA and is holding opponents to a .250 batting average. Tuesday’s probably starter LHP Chad Young is 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA and seven strikeouts in 12.1 innings. Closer Hunter Lemke is 5-3 with nine saves and a 3.37 ERA in 22 appearances. Geisler is 3-0 with 21 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #22 COREY RAY
Making his 12th career start, and third of the season, owning a 4-0 record with a 1.31 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 20.2 innings... Picked up a pair of wins in midweek games against Texas Pan American and Columbia after coming out of the bullpen... Earned wins in starts against Abilene Christian and Rice... Held Rice to two runs (one earned) on five hits, with three walks and three strikeouts in his most recent start... Also pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief against Mississippi State on Sunday.
PROTECTING THE HOMEFRONT
The Aggies are 19-9 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .307 at home with seven players logging batting averages of .300 or higher. Jace Statum (.371), Nick Banks (.338), Logan Taylor (.333) and Blake Allemand (.321) are all batting .320 or higher. Lankford leads the team with 25 RBI with five doubles and three home runs. Blake Allemand leads the team with 19 runs at home. Logan Nottebrok (.269) has five doubles, five home runs and 20 RBI.
The Aggies are 8-9 on the road this season. Cole Lankford is the top hitter on the road, batting .358 (24-for-67) with eight runs, four doubles, one home run and 12 RBI. Nick Banks is batting .322 (19-for-59) with six runs, three doubles and 10 RBI on the road. Krey Bratsen has team highs with 12 runs and seven stolen bases. On the mound, Grayson Long is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA in five road starts.
A&M has won six of its last eight road games. The Aggies are batting .301 (83-for-276) over the span and the Maroon and White are averaging 6.4 runs per game. The stretch includes five wins over Top 25 teams. Blake Allemand is hitting .452 (14-for-31) with eight runs, one triple and seven RBI. Lankford is batting .412 (14-for-34) with one double, one home run and 10 RBI. Nick Banks is batting .400 (14-for-35) with four runs, three doubles and eight RBI. Bratsen is hitting .345 with 11 runs and seven stolen bases.
BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 36 games, including 24 starts and 12 games as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 228 career games under his belt, 13 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Over the weekend, he matched Brodie Greene (228 - 2007-10) for fourth place. With his next three appearances he’ll tie Sean Heaney (231 - 1997-2000) for third place.
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.
IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .383 (18-for-47) with five walks, one sacrifice fly, one sac bunt, one double, one triple, one home run and 12 RBI in 54 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-4, one double, one home run, 6 RBI), Patrick McLendon (2-for-2, one walk) and Ryne Birk (6-for-12, one triple, 4 RBI) are the top pinch-hitting options. Jace Statum (2-for-5), Krey Bratsen (1-for-1, one sac bunt, 1 RBI), Nick Banks (1-for-2), Nick Choruby (1-for-2), Jonathan Moroney (1-for-7, one sac fly, 1 RBI) and JB Moss (1-for-2, two walks) account for the other seven hits.
Through 45 games this season, the Aggies have posted 42 different batting orders. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 44. Fourteen different Aggies have started at least 12 games this season. Nick Banks (38 – RF), Lankford (40 – 1B) and Logan Taylor (40 - SS) are the only four Aggies to start more than 35 games at the same position. Ten different players have batted in the sixth spot, nine have hit in the eighth spot in the batting order and eight different players have hit in the seven hole. Last season, A&M used 52 different batting orders in their 63 games.
Texas A&M has four walk-off wins this season at Blue Bell Park. 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.
Cole Lankford got in on the fun with a game-winning double in the 11th inning of the Aggies’ 8-7 win against Columbia. Three games later Lankford delivered an RBI single in the 11th inning to seal a series’ triumph against Florida with a 4-3 victory.
SCHLOTTMANN SEES INCREASED WORKLOAD
After amassing just 7.2 innings in the Aggies’ first 35 games, Ty Schlottmann has twice logged career-long outings in A&M’s last 10 games and the Brenham native has logged four appearances of 2.0 innings or longer. Since the Maroon and White’s Saturday game at Vanderbilt, Schlottmann has worked 16.0 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out 13 and holding opponents to a .167 batting average. He earned saves in both of A&M’s wins at Mississippi State, including a 3.0-inning effort in the Friday win. He worked 6.2 scoreless innings against Kentucky, holding the Wildcats to two hits and one walk while striking out five. The sophomore pitched two blank frames in A&M’s 6-5 win over No. 16 Rice, holding the Owls to one hit and one walk. Prior to his 3.1 inning outing against Vanderbilt, Schlottmann’s career-long was 2.1 innings against Houston and he had only worked more than 1.0 inning on four occasions in his first 18 appearances.
BREAKOUT WEEK FOR BIRK
Ryne Birk had a breakout week last week two weeks ago with the Aggies’ midweek game against Abilene Christian and three-game series against No. 24 Kentucky. In the four games, he got two starts and hit .636 (7-for-11) with one double and two home runs. In the four games, he logged a 1.273 slugging percentage, seven runs and eight RBI. The week, included a 2-for-4 performance against Kentucky in which he logged a home run and five RBI. Thirty-seven games into the season, Birk appeared in just 14 games with five starts. He hit just .192 (5-for-26) with one double, one triple and three RBI. Despite the limited action, he did have an impact in those first 37 games logging four of his five pinch-hits, including a three-run triple at No. 7 Vanderbilt.
HEALTHY TAYLOR STARTING TO HIT
After missing much of the preseason practice and the first five games, Logan Taylor took some time to warm up at the plate. He hit just .167 (5-for-30) in his first eight games, all starts at shortstop. But in the last 32 games, Taylor is hitting .299 (40-for-134) with 13 doubles and 20 RBI. His on-base (.219/.343) and slugging (.200/.448) numbers are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Taylor is hitting .274 (45-for-164) with 21 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, one home run and 21 RBI in 40 games, all starts at shortstop.
PINCH-HIT SPARKS ALLEMAND HOT STREAK
After being pulled from the starting lineup with a .175 batting average (7-for-40) through the first 13 games, Blake Allemand registered a pinch-hit on March 7 against Louisiana Tech. Since the pinch-hit, Allemand is batting .367 (36-for-98) with 23 runs and 13 RBI in 27 games, including 25 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .312 with 29 runs and 18 RBI in 39 games, including 36 starts.
EVERY DAY PITCHER
Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 45 games, making 22 appearances. Vinson enters the weekend ranked fifth in the SEC in appearances, trailing Missouri’s Austin Tribby who has pitched in 27 contests.
He is 1-1 with a 2.67 ERA and two saves. He earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington and earned save in A&M’s 6-5 win at No. 16 Rice. He also garnered a win in relief in the Aggies’ 9-5 victory over Georgia on Sunday by retiring all six batters he faced. He has allowed nine runs, eight earned, on 15 hits and six walks while striking out 28 in 26.2 innings of work. He has already exceeded his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.
BRATSEN STEALING THE SHOW
With his five stolen bases the last five games, senior Krey Bratsen passed Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89) for second place on A&M’s career list for stolen bases with 85. After adding an additional steal on Saturday at Mississippi State, the Bryan, Texas native trails only Jason Tyner, who 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.
MENGDEN REACHES 200 STRIKEOUT PLATEAU
In his outing against Alabama, Daniel Mengden reached the 200-strikeout plateau for his career. With his two strikeouts on Saturday at Mississippi State, the junior surpassed John Stilson to move up to 15th in the all-time strikeout list. He is believed to be the 16th player in school history to reach the milestone. He need 37 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10. Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 from 1997-99.
AGGIES HIT 2,500-WIN MARK
Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,506-1,422-42 mark. At Vanderbilt, the Aggies became the 12th NCAA Division I program and first SEC team to hit the 2,500-win plateau. The last team to reach the milestone was Washington State in 2011. Fellow SEC teams Mississippi State and Alabama both enter the weekend less than 15 wins shy of the plateau and have the possibility of reaching the mark this season.
The Aggies are 7-4 in one-run games and 7-5 in games decided by one run or/or extra innings. In their most recent tightly contest game, A&M held on for a 6-5 win against No. 16 Rice.
The Aggies have already produced 16 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 four games the Aggies have produced multiple “big innings”: the Aggies’ 11-2 win over Northeastern, 12-3 win over Stephen F Austin, 13-8 win vs Alabama and 20-2 win against Abilene Christian. The highest run total in an inning this season is seven in the seventh inning of A&M’s win against ACU. The Aggies also scored six runs in the fourth inning. The only time this season the Aggies have lost when posting a big inning was in their 10-8 loss to Houston when the Cougars responded with a big inning of their own, scoring five runs in the fourth after A&M scored four in the third.
In all, Texas A&M pitchers have allowed five “big innings” by opponents, five runs in the sixth inning of the Aggies’ 6-5 loss at Fresno State, four runs in the eighth inning of the series finale against Louisiana Tech, four runs in the second inning of an 8-1 loss to Sam Houston State and four runs in the eighth inning of their 11-4 loss in the second game against Kentucky, in addition to the aforementioned five-run fourth inning against Houston.
ALLEMAND ENTERS WITH 18-GAME STREAK REACHING BASE Blake Allemand has reached base in each of the last 21 games. During the span he boasts a .485 on-base percentage with 16 walks and a .378 batting average (31-for-82). He has 19 runs, two doubles, one triple, 11 RBI, four sacrifice bunts and three stolen bases. He has helped spark an offense that is averaging 6.39 runs per game, up from 5.21 runs per game in the first 24 games.
After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 32 contests, hitting .300 (341-for-1,136) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.372) and slugging (.343/.393) numbers are also up over the span. It is starting to translate into a jump in runs as the Aggies scoring has ticked up from 5.15 runs per game in the first 13 contests to 6.00 in the last 32.
BRATSEN GETTING UP TO SPEED
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen took time to get in the groove in 2014. He played in just 16 of A&M’s first 24 games, including seven starts, hitting .219 (7-for-32). Bratsen has heated up to the tune of .290 (18-for-62) over the Aggies’ last 21 contests. His on-base (.306/.338) and slugging (.219/.355) are also up substantially over the span and he owns team-highs with 19 runs and 11 stolen bases in the A&M’s 21 games (20 games/17 starts). On the year, Bratsen is batting .266 (25-for-94) with 24 runs, two doubles, one triple, eight RBI and 15 stolen bases.
BANKS SETTLING IN AS A FRESHMAN
After a slow start in which he hit just .160 (4-for-25) in the Aggies’ first 16 games, Nick Banks has heated up to the tune of .370 (40-for-108) over the last 29 contests. His on-base (.276/.415) and slugging (.200/.509) are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is hitting .331 (44-for-133) with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBI in 40 games, including 38 starts.
The Aggies return to action on Friday when they host the No. 5 LSU Tigers in a 6:35 pm game on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. The game starts a three-game series against the Bayou Bengals with all three games slated for national television.