COLLEGE STATION, Texas –Texas A&M Baseball returns to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park this weekend looking to remain perfect on the year. The Aggies host the Sacramento State Hornets for 6:35 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday and a 1:05 p.m. contest on Sunday at the friendly confines. With a victory on Friday, A&M will match the opening start of the 2012 team that started 5-0, while a win in the first two games of the series will give the Aggies their best start since 2011.
The Aggies’ starting rotation of Daniel Mengden (1-0, 3.00), Parker Ray, (1-0, 1.80) and Grayson Long (0-0, 0.00) will again look for quality starts to lead A&M to victory.
A&M’s offense hopes to stay hot after hitting .319 as a team through the first four games, pounding out 43 hits and driving in 34 runs. Juniors Patrick McLendon and Logan Nottebrok are each hitting above .350 with five RBI apiece.
#21 TEXAS A&M AGGIES (4-0) vs. SACRAMENTO STATE HORNETS (3-2)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE – Friday, 6:35 PM; Saturday, 6:35 PM; Sunday, 1:05 PM
TELEVISION – None
STREAMING – AggieAthletics.com (premium subscription)
RADIO – WTAW-AM 1620
LIVE AUDIO – AggieAthletics.com • RadioAggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS – AggieAthletics.com/tamustats.com (mobile device)
SERIES HISTORY – First meeting
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 1-0, 3.00) vs. #19 Ty Nichols (Jr., RHP, 1-0, 3.00)
• SATURDAY: #54 Parker Ray (Sr., RHP, 1-0, 1.80) vs. #21 Brennan Leitao (Jr., RHP, 0-1, 2.57)
• SUNDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 0-0, 0.00) vs. TBA
FOLLOWING THE ACTION
• RADIO — Fans can listen locally on WTAW-AM 1620 ... Dave South (play-by-play) and selected commentators will call the action ... pregame show begins 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
• INTERNET — aggieathletics.com will offer live play-by-play and statistics ... fans can watch all non-televised games on AggieAthletics.com with a premium subscription.
• MOBILE PHONE — listen to the game on your iPhone, Blackberry or PDA free of charge ... log on to radioaggieland.com for more information.
TEXAS A&M/SACRAMENTO STATE SERIES NOTABLES
This will be the first matchup between the Aggies and Hornets.
The Aggies are 63-20 versus current members of the WAC, including 58-18 vs UT Pan American and 5-2 vs Northern Colorado.
MORE ON SACRAMENTO STATE
The Hornets enter the weekend with a 3-2 mark, following a four-game split against Utah and 6-4 win at Fresno State on Wednesday... Sacramento State is coming off a 34-25 campaign in 2013, finishing fifth in the Western Athletic Conference with a 14-13 mark... In the WAC Baseball Coaches Poll, Sacramento State was picked to finish third, behind Bakersfield and New Mexico State, and received one first-place vote... The Hornets top returning hitters are sophomores Chris Lewis, who batted .349 with 15 doubles, four home runs and 46 RBI, and Nathan Lukes, who hit .315 with 40 runs, 13 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 32 RBI... Three starting pitchers and a closer return, including Ty Nichols (4-6, 3.89 ERA), Brennan Leitao (8-3, 2.77 ERA), Hunter Greenwood (3-0, 4.62 ERA) and Sutter McLaughlin (1-3, 17 Saves, 2.11 ERA)... Sacramento State has never made it to the NCAA Division I Championship, but made four NCAA Division II Championship appearances before moving up levels in 1990... The Hornets captured the WAC regular-season title in 2012... Sacramento State boasts 10 former players who reached the Major Leagues, most notably Mike Fischlin who served as a utility infielder for 10 seasons, including five with the Cleveland Indians.
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 327-182-2 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 enter the weekend ranked in the Top 25 in three of the four major college baseball polls, earning the No. 21 ranking in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, No. 24 spot in the Baseball America ranking and the Collegiate Baseball ranking.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
Texas A&M starting pitchers combined to log a 2-0 record and 1.61 ERA on the opening week. Junior Daniel Mengden, senior Parker Ray and sophomore Grayson Long held Northeastern to a .197 batting average, allowing three runs on 13 hits and seven walks while striking out 25 over 18.0 innings and freshman Tyler Stubblefield allowed one run on three hits and one walk while striking out eight over 4.1 innings.
On Friday, Mengden equaled a career-high with 11 strikeouts, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks over 6.0 innings in a 10-2 win. On Saturday, Ray allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out seven over 5.0 innings in an 11-2 victory. Long had his longest career start on Sunday, working 7.0 shutout innings with two hits and three walks while striking out seven.
The Aggies’ bullpen allowed just three runs in 13.2 innings of work over the first four games, earning two wins. The reserves sported a 1.98 ERA and .208 opponent batting average in the four games, allowing three runs on 11 hits, including 10 singles, and four walks while striking out 12. Andrew Vinson has led the charges with 2.1 blank innings over two games, retiring all seven batters he faced, including three strikeouts. Freshmen Tyler Stubblefield and Ryan Hendrix have each worked 2.0 blank frames. Jason Jester and Matt Kent both have wins out of the bullpen.
The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all four 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.
MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU
Texas A&M has owned the fourth inning of games this season, outscoring opponents 11-1 in the frame. The Aggies are hitting .455 (10-for-22) in the fourth inning with a .519 on-base percentage and .545 slugging percentage. Patrick McLendon is 3-for-3 with one run and four RBI in the fourth and Troy Stein is 2-for-2 with one double and three RBI.
NOTTEBROK TOUCHED WITH OLSEN MAGIC
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 walkoff home run. It marked the first walkoff 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.
SAME NUMBER, SAME POSITION, DIFFERENT GUY
Junior college transfer Patrick McLendon took the part of Mikey Reynolds in the Aggies’ opening week. Wearing No. 16 like Reynolds had done the last two seasons, McLendon took up Reynolds position both in the batting order, as the leadoff hitter, and in the field, as the Aggies’ shortstop. McLendon hit .389 (7-for-18) the first four games, with a team-high six runs and five RBI.
McLendon took a similar path to College Station as Reynolds did two years prior. McLendon played Division I baseball at Winthrop as a freshman in 2012, mirroring Reynolds who played his first year at St. Mary’s College in California. McLendon appeared in 23 games for Winthrop, including 11 starts. He hit .224 (11-for-49) on the year. He then transferred to Cisco College for the 2013 season, hitting .370 with 15 doubles and 31 RBI.
MORE GREAT STARTS
The Aggies are hitting .400 (8-for-20) with a .435 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in the first inning of games. Blake Allemand is hitting 3-for-4 with two runs and one RBI in the first inning. Logan Nottebrok is 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBI.
SETTING THE TABLE
A&M batters leading off an inning own a .394 on-base percentage and .333 batting average (10-for-30). JB Moss has the most leadoff hits, going 3-for-8 with one home run. Logan Nottebrook and Mitchell Nau each have two hits to start innings.
WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION
The Aggies’ big run numbers early in the season can be attributed to their ability to produce with runners in scoring position. A&M batters are hitting .327 (18-for-55) with two doubles and 27 RBI with runners on second and/or third base. Hunter Melton leads the way, going 3-for-5 with one double, one walk and three RBI in RISP plate appearances. Patrick McLendon is 4-for-7 with five RBI. Troy Stein, Logan Nottebrok and Jace Statum are all hitting .500.
IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .400 (2-for-5) with one walk in pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (1-for-1) and Ryne Birk (1-for-2) account for the two hits.
BEARING DOWN WITH RUNNERS ON BASE
Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .148 (9-for-61) batting average with runners on base. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the nine batters he has faced with runners on base to one walk, one sacrifice bunt and a .000 batting average on 0-for-7 at the plate. Tyler Stubblefield has allowed a .111 (1-for-9) batting average with one hit batsmen and five strikeouts with runners on base.
The Aggies have already produced five 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 has already reached double-digits in the run column three times in the first four games. 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).
Texas A&M completes the current eight-game homestand on Tuesday when the Aggies host the Houston Baptist Huskies in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.