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Aggies Host No. 5 LSU for SEC Series

May 01, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Aggies wrap up a 20-game stretch in which they will have faced Top 25 teams on 17 occasions this weekend as they welcome the No. 5 LSU Tigers on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

Texas A&M enters the fray winners of five of their last six games, including four victories against ranked foes. The Aggies are batting .354 over the last six games with a .418 on-base percentage and .464 slugging percentage. Blake Allemand is leading the charge with a .480 batting average (12-for-25) with seven runs and a .533 on-base percentage. Nick Banks is batting .462 (12-for-26) with four runs, one double, one home run and nine RBI.

All three games are slated for national television. Friday night’s affair will be featured on CBS Sports Network. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and Sunday’s contest will be aired on ESPNU.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (28-18, 10-11 SEC) vs. No. 5 LSU TIGERS (34-11-1, 12-8-1 SEC)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100)  •  College Station, Texas

SCHEDULE – Friday 6:35 pm; Saturday 12:05; Sunday 1:05 pm
TELEVISION – Friday - CBS Sports Network (Brent Stover - play-by-play; C.J. Nitkowski - color)
    Saturday - ESPN2 (Clay Matvick - play-by-play; Kyle Peterson - color)
    Sunday - ESPNU (Clay Matvick - play-by-play; Kyle Peterson - color)
RADIO – WTAW-AM 1620  (Dave South - play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO – Saturday and Sunday - ESPN3/WatchESPN
LIVE AUDIO –  • (free)
LIVE STATS – (mobile devices)
RANKINGS – A&M - unranked; LSU - #5 (NCBWA) / #6 (USAT) / #8 (BA) / #9 (CB)
SERIES HISTORY – Texas A&M leads the series 16-14-1
SERIES STREAKS – LSU has won the last two games

GET THE SEC NETWORK – Throughout the weekend fans will be encouraged to take part in the Get The SEC Network campaign. Those signing up will receive a free Texas A&M/SEC Network t-shirt and will be able to register for 2 tickets to the SEC Baseball Tournament with hospitality passes and a parking pass.

1959 SWC Championship recognition
Diamond Darling Appreciation Day

Sunday Runday: kids are invited to run the bases following the game
Take Me Out to the Ballgame: one adult ticket gets one kid in free
JAC Free Admission: Junior Aggie Club members get in free

• FRIDAY: #54 Parker Ray (Sr., RHP, 4-3, 5.48) vs #10 Aaron Nola (So., RHP, 7-1, 1.40)
• SATURDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 3-6, 4.00) vs #16 Jared Poche’ (Fr., LHP, 6-3, 2.59)
• SUNDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 6-1, 2.79) vs TBA

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 11 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 16.2 innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits and four walks while striking out 14 and holding opponents to a .175 batting average. He earned saves in both of A&M’s wins at No. 21 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.

Ryne Birk had a breakout week two weeks ago with the Aggies’ Wednesday 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.

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 .384 (43-for-112) over the last 30 contests. His on-base (.276/.426) and slugging (.200/.518) percentages are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is leading the team with a .343 batting average (47-for-137) and .460 slugging percentage and he has 23 runs, six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 21 RBI.

A&M and LSU have met on 31 prior occasions with the Aggies owning a 16-14-1 advantage. LSU has won nine of the last 10 meetings, including four in the NCAA postseason. Last season the teams played a three-game series in College Station with A&M winning the opening game 2-1 and LSU closing out the series with 7-4 and 2-1 wins. The last meetings came at the 2004 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional where the Tigers won 11-8 and 4-0. LSU also won 13-8 at the 1993 College World Series and 7-1 at the 1991 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. The teams also met twice at the 1989 NCAA College Station Regional with LSU winning 13-5 and 5-4.

The Tigers enter weekend’s action with a 34-11-1 overall mark and a 12-8-1 record in SEC play. After getting swept three games in Florida to end March, LSU has gone 14-3 in May, including 9-3 in SEC action.

LSU is batting .276 as a team with a .364 on-base percentage and a .387 slugging percentage. Andrew Stevenson leads the team with a .357 batting average, 31 runs, three doubles, four triples and 24 RBI. Connor Hale is hitting .303 with 26 runs, five doubles, two home runs and 20 RBI. Sean McMullen is the main power threat with a .281 average, 15 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 27 RBI.

The Tiger pitching staff owns a .258 ERA and is holding opponents to a .220 batting average. Friday’s probable starter RHP Aaron Nola is 7-1 with a 1.40 ERA and .175 opponent batting average. Saturday starter LHP Jared Poche’ is 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA. Closer Joe Broussard is 2-0 with eight saves, a 0.36 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.

The Tigers have made 16 College World Series appearances, including winning six titles, most recently in 2009. All six national championships have come since the 1991 season. They also won titles in 1993, ‘96, ‘97, 2000 and ‘09.

LSU boasts 63 former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is headlined by five-time Cleveland Indians All-Star Joey ‘Albert’ Belle, the only player in MLB history to log 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same season, and 1948 MLB Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star Al Dark.

In 2013, ranked fifth in the SEC in ERA (1.73) and 10th in opponent batting average (.213)... appeared in 10 SEC games, including four starts, logging an 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 postseason going 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 16.2 innings in wins over Vanderbilt (5/22) at SEC Tournament and UTSA (6/1) at the NCAA Corvallis Regional... best outing down the stretch was 5.0 inning relief effort at Vanderbilt, allowing one run on two hits while striking out 10.

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 opponent 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 opponent batting average (.198) and fifth in strikeouts (56)... pitched for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer... in his start against Alabama, became 16th Aggie to reach the 200-strikeout plateau for a career... ranked 15th on A&M’s career strikeout list with 210... heads into the weekend ranked second in the SEC in strikeouts (75) and eighth in innings pitched (72.0).

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... started the season by working 21.0 scoreless innings... after averaging just 4.37 innings per start as a freshman, Long has stretched his average innings per start to 6.15 in 2014... held No. 7 Vanderbilt to two runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out four over 7.2 innings two weekends ago... two weeks he held hard hitting No. 21 Kentucky to two runs on eight hits while striking out eight over a career-long 8.0 innings.

The Aggies are 20-9 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .314 at home with eight players logging batting averages of .300 or higher. Jace Statum (.371), Nick Banks (.359), Blake Allemand (.345) and Logan Taylor (.330) are all batting .330 or higher. Lankford leads the team with 25 RBI with five doubles and three home runs. Blake Allemand leads the team with 20 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.

After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 37 games, including 25 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 229 career games under his belt, 12 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). On Tuesday against Texas State, he passed Brodie Greene (228 - 2007-10) for fourth place. With his next two 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.

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.

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.

Through 46 games this season, the Aggies have posted 43 different batting orders. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 45. Fourteen different Aggies have started at least 12 games this season. Nick Banks (39 – RF), Lankford (41 – 1B) and Logan Taylor (41 - SS) are the only three 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.

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 .297 (41-for-138) with 13 doubles and 20 RBI. His on-base (.219/.340) and slugging (.200/.442) numbers are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Taylor is hitting .274 (46-for-168) with 21 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, one home run and 21 RBI in 41 games, all starts at shortstop.

Taylor is currently on a career-best nine-game hit streak, batting .310 (13-for-42) with five runs, three doubles, one triple and seven RBI over the span.

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 .386 (39-for-101) with 24 runs and 15 RBI in 28 games, including 26 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .326 (46-for-141) with 30 runs and 20 RBI in 40 games, including 37 starts.

Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 46 games, making 23 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 2.57 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 16 hits and six walks while striking out 28 in 28.0 innings of work. He has already exceeded his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.

In the first 18 games the Aggies outscored opponents in the first inning of games, 17-0. The Maroon and White went 13-5 over that span. The Aggies also outscored foe 61-11 in the first four innings of games during the stretch.

In games 19-34, the opponents were outscoring the Aggies 15-2 in the first inning of games and 40-32 in the first four innings, resulting in a 7-9 record for A&M during the stretch.

Over the last 12 games, the pendulum has swung back in favor of the Maroon and White with Texas A&M posting a 15-7 scoring margin in the first inning and a 52-21 advantage in the first four innings, resulting in an 8-4 record.

With his 16 stolen bases on the season, senior Krey Bratsen passed Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89) for second place on A&M’s career list for stolen bases with 86. The Bryan, Texas native trails only Jason Tyner, who owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98.

The mercurial centerfielder has stolen 11 bases in the last 13 games, including three in the series finale against Kentucky and two in the series finale against Vanderbilt.

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.

Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,507-1,422-42 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.

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.

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.

Blake Allemand has reached base in each of the last 22 games. During the span he boasts a .500 on-base percentage with 17 walks and a .400 batting average 34-for-85). He has 20 runs, three doubles, one triple, 13 RBI, four sacrifice bunts and three stolen bases. He has helped spark an offense that is averaging 6.50 runs per game over the last 22 games, 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 33 contests, hitting .307 (360-for-1,172) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.376) and slugging (.343/.405) 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 6.09 in the last 33.

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 .303 (20-for-66) over the Aggies’ last 22 contests. His on-base (.306/.347) and slugging (.219/.379) are also up substantially over the span and he owns team-highs with 20 runs and 12 stolen bases in the A&M’s 22 games (21 games/18 starts). On the year, Bratsen is batting .276 (27-for-98) with 25 runs, three doubles, one triple, nine RBI and 16 stolen bases.

The Aggies return to action next Friday as the Maroon and White travel to Fayetteville for a three-game series against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

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