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Aggies Travel to Houston Regional

May 28, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M Aggies travel to Houston to participate in their 30th NCAA Division I Championship. The Aggies play the Texas Longhorns on Friday at 3 pm Central at Rice’s Reckling Park. The Maroon and White are sharing a regional with Rice, Texas and George Mason.

Texas and Texas A&M have met on 363 prior occasions, but this marks the first meeting of the two squads since the Aggies joined the nation’s premier baseball conference in 2013. It also marks the first-ever game between the teams in NCAA Championship action.

The Aggies are making their 30th NCAA Championship appearance overall and their eighth in a row. The Aggies are 66-66 all-time in NCAA Championship play, including 57-43 in regional action.

Texas A&M has won regionals in 1993, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011. They also captured a district playoff in 1951 before regional play began.

The Aggies have advanced to the College World Series on five occasions, including 1951, ‘64, ‘93, ‘99 and 2011.

Prior to the arrival of head coach Rob Childress, Texas A&M had never appeared in the NCAA Tournament more than four consecutive years. Advancing to the NCAA Houston Regional in 2014 extended the Aggies’ string to eight straight years, something that had never happened before in the program’s 112 year history.

Childress has led the Aggies to the postseason each of the last eight seasons, topping the previous-high water mark of four-straight trips, a feat that had happened only twice before at Texas A&M. Former head coach Tom Chandler led his squad to the NCAA Regionals each season from 1975 to 1978, and 11 years later the Aggies enjoyed a similar four-year run from 1986-89 under the direction of head coach Mark Johnson. 

Texas A&M owns a 17-16 record against teams in the tournament field. The Maroon and White won series against Sacramento State (2-1), Florida (2-1), Vanderbilt (2-1), Mississippi State (2-1) and LSU (2-1). The Aggies also won midweek games against Columbia, Sam Houston State and Rice.

Texas A&M boasts an 8-5 record against the teams selected to hosts NCAA Regional action. The Aggies tallied series wins against Florida (2-1), Vanderbilt (2-1) and LSU (2-1) and won a midweek game against Rice. The Maroon and White dropped a series against Ole Miss (2-1).

The Aggies were 4-2 against teams selected among the best eight in the nation. Texas A&M won series against No. 2 seed Florida (2-1) and LSU (2-1).

The Aggies are 57-43 all-time in regional play. The Maroon and White are in their eighth consecutive regional, going 17-11 over the span and claiming three regional titles.

This marks the Aggies’ second appearance at a regional hosted by Rice. In 2004 the Aggies won the Houston Regional hosted by Rice to advance to an NCAA Super Regional against LSU. Texas A&M opened the regional with wins over Lamar (14-3) and Texas Southern (12-1). The Aggies lost the first shot at a championship against Rice, 3-1, before claiming the title with a 7-5 victory against the Owls. 

Texas A&M is 3-5 all-time in NCAA Championship play. The Maroon and White captured the 2004 NCAA Regional, going 3-1 en route to punching a ticket to a Super Regional at LSU. The Aggies went 0-2 in back-to-back Super Regionals against Rice in 2007 (3-2 & 5-2) and 2008 (9-7 & 6-5).

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (33-24, 14-16 SEC) vs. #20 TEXAS LONGHORNS (38-18, 13-11 Big 12)
2014 Houston Regional - Reckling Park    Houston, Texas

SCHEDULE - 3:00 PM Central
TELEVISION - ESPNU (Tom Hart - play-by-play; Ben McDonald - color)
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620  (Dave South - play-by-play; Scott Clendenin - color)
LIVE AUDIO - (free)
RANKINGS - Texas A&M - unranked; Texas - #20 (NCBWA), #20 (USAT), #21 (BA), #29 (CB)
SERIES HISTORY - Texas leads the series 235-123-5
SERIES STREAKS - Texas won the last game on April 29, 2012 (L, 1-2)

• FRIDAY: RHP Daniel Mengden (4-8, 3.55) vs RHP Nathan Thornhill (6-2, 1.51)

Texas A&M and Texas have met on 363 occasions with the Longhorns owning a 235-123-5 edge. This marks the first time the teams have met in NCAA Championship play. The last time the squads met came in April 2012 when A&M claimed two of three. The Aggies won the Friday night game 6-5 in College Station and split the remainder of the series in Austin with a 12-4 Aggie win and a 2-1 Longhorn triumph. Current Aggies Troy Stein, Blake Allemand and Krey Bratsen started all three games of the series. Stein went 6-for-9 with three doubles and three RBI in the series. Allemand was 3-for-9 with four ribbies. A&M also owns a win in the most recent neutral site contest when the Aggies bested the Longhorns 9-3 at the 2010 Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City one day before claiming the title with a 10-inning, 5-3 win against Baylor.

Last season 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 in 2014, became 16th Aggie to reach the 200-strikeout plateau for a career... ranks 13th on A&M’s career strikeout list with 228... heads into the NCAA Tournament ranked second in the SEC in strikeouts (94) and fourth in innings pitched (101.1).

Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,512-1,428-42 mark. In the weekend series 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 NCAA Tournament less than eight wins shy of the plateau and have the possibility of reaching the mark this season.

The Aggies are currently hitting .364 (20-for-55) with five walks, one sacrifice fly, two sac bunts, two doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI in 63 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-5, one double, one home run, 6 RBI), Patrick McLendon (2-for-2, one walk), Ryne Birk (6-for-12, one triple, 4 RBI) and Jonathan Moroney (3-for-11, one sac fly, 3 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-3) and JB Moss (1-for-2, two walks) account for the other six hits.

After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 48 games, including 36 starts and 12 games as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter. In the regional opener against Texas, Bratsen would match the Aggie record for career games. He currently has 240 career games under his belt, one shy of the mark of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88).

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.

Ryne Birk had a breakout week three 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. In the last 20 games, Birk is reaching base on a .436 rate and is hitting .343 (23-for-67) with a team-high 16 runs, four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 12 RBI and four stolen bases. 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 during the span. 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 amassing just 7.2 innings in the Aggies’ first 35 games, Ty Schlottmann has twice logged career-long outings in A&M’s last 22 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 21.0 innings, allowing six runs on 17 hits and five walks while striking out 17 and holding opponents to a .218 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.

Texas A&M has five walk-off wins this season at Blue Bell Park. Cole Lankford leads the team with three walk-off RBI. He 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. He evened the series against LSU with a walk-off single of Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Tigers.

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.

With his 18 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 88. The Bryan, Texas native trails only Jason Tyner, who owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98.

The mercurial centerfielder has stolen 13 bases in the last 23 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.

Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 57 games, making 30 appearances. Vinson enters the NCAA Tournament second in the league in appearances, trailing Missouri’s Austin Tribby who has pitched in 31 contests.

He is 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA and two saves. He earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington and earned a save in A&M’s 6-5 win at No. 16 Rice. He garnered a win in relief in the Aggies’ 9-5 victory over Georgia on Sunday by retiring all six batters he faced and picked up Sunday wins against LSU, with two innings of relief, and Arkansas, with two innings of work. He has allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, on 23 hits and 10 walks while striking out 33 in 36.0 innings of work. He has nearly doubled his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.

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 .315 (46-for-146) with 29 runs and 17 RBI in 39 games, including 37 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .285 (53-for-186) with 35 runs and 22 RBI in 51 games, including 48 starts.

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 23 games, the pendulum has swung back in favor of the Maroon and White with Texas A&M posting a 17-9 scoring margin in the first inning and a 69-34 advantage in the first four innings, resulting in a 13-10 record.

In his outing against Alabama, Daniel Mengden reached the 200-strikeout plateau for his career. He is believed to be the 16th player in school history to reach the milestone 200-strikeout mark. With his strikeout against Arkansas at the SEC Tournament, the junior passed Doug Rau (228 - 1968-70) for 13th place on the Aggie all-time strikeouts list. He needs 18 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10 and is approaching No. 11 Mark Ross (232 - 1976-79) and No. 12 Rick Luecken (230 - 1980-83). Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 from 1997-99.

After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 44 contests, hitting .295 (455-for-1,541) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.366) and slugging (.343/.394) 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 5.48 in the last 44.

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 .379 (58-for-153) over the last 41 contests. His on-base (.276/.432) and slugging (.200/.503) percentages are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is leading the team with a .348 batting average (62-for-178) and .409 on-base percentage and he has 28 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 25 RBI.

After cooling off during the middle of the season, Logan Nottebrok has heated back up the last six games, going 9-for-24 (.375) with two doubles and three home runs to raise his season batting average from .234 to .263 and his season slugging percentage from .447 to .525. In the Aggies’ 6-5 win at Arkansas in the series finale, Nottebrok hit the deciding home run in the 10th inning, starting a streak of three straight SEC games with a home run. Nottebrok started the season by hitting .300 with three home runs and 11 RBI in the first eight games before being forced to play through various ailments.

Krey Bratsen enters the weekend ranked in the top three among all active players in the nation in Games Played (3rd - 240), Stolen Bases (3rd - 88) and Sacrifice Bunts (2nd - 51). He trails only Georgia Tech’s Mott Hyde (249) and The Citadel’s Drew DeKerlegand (243) in games played. Bratsen entered the season as the active leader in games played but was hampered by an illness throughout February. His stolen base mark trails only North Carolina State’s Trea Turner (113) and Iona’s Joe Torres (90). The 51 sacrifice bunts are second only to Oregon’s Aaron Payne (55).

A&M has wheeled out four pitchers who have proven capable of locking down games with Jason Jester (3), AJ Minter (2), Ty Schlottmann (2) and Andrew Vinson (2) all recording multiple saves on the year. As a result, the Aggies are 27-0 when leading after six innings, 26-0 when leading after seven innings and 28-0 when leading after eight innings.

Jester owns the single-season saves record at A&M with the 14 he recorded last year, and his 17 career saves rank second in Aggie annals. Minter has recorded the last two saves for the Maroon and White. He entered a bases-loaded, no-outs situation with the Aggies leading 6-5 in the Sunday game at Arkansas and got two strikeouts and a fly out to record his first career save. He followed with a midweek save in A&M’s 3-1 win over Sam Houston State. Vinson recorded road saves at UT Arlington (5-4) and at No. 16 Rice (6-5). Schlottmann bagged back-to-back saves in wins at Mississippi State to nail down 6-3 and 6-4 decisions.

The Aggies are 10-6 in one-run games and 10-7 in games decided by one run and/or extra innings. In their home series against LSU, all three games were decided by one run with the Aggies winning two against the No. 5 Bayou Bengals. The Tigers won the first game, in 10 innings, 5-4. Texas A&M finished off the series with 3-2 and 5-4 wins. Last weekend, the A&M dropped the opening game at Arkansas, 3-2, and won the final in 10 innings, 6-5.

In the nine games that Logan Taylor has missed with an injury, Blake Allemand has moved from third to fill the void at shortstop. In the nine games, Logan Nottebrok and Ronnie Gideon have combined to bat .324 (12-of-37) with three doubles and four home runs, including two game-winners. Nottebrok is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with six runs, two doubles, three home runs and four RBI during the span. He hit home runs in three consecutive SEC games, starting with the game-winning dinger in the 10-inning series finale at Arkansas. Gideon hit the deciding home run in the eighth inning of the series finale against LSU as the Aggies took the series from the Tigers. Unfortunately for A&M, Allemand is hitting just .171 since moving to short.

The winner of the Aggie-Longhorn game plays the winner of the Rice-George Mason game. The winners contest is slated for 7 pm on Saturday. The losers of the two games meet at 3 pm on Saturday.

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