COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M is heading on the road for the first time in 2014. The Aggies travel to the San Joaquin Valley for a three-game series against the Fresno State Bulldogs. This marks the third consecutive year A&M has made a road trip to California. The Aggies swept a three-game series at Pepperdine in 2012 and lost two of three at Cal State Fullerton in 2013.
The Aggies enter play with a 7-1 record for the third time in the last four seasons. Four A&M players are hitting .300 or better on the season. Troy Stein owns a .348 batting average (8-for-23) with two doubles, six RBI and two stolen bases. Hunter Melton is hitting .333 (8-for-24) with one double and four RBI. Jace Statum is batting .333 (7-for-21) with a .533 on-base percentage, five runs and two stolen bases. Logan Nottebrook leads the team with 10 runs, three dou-bles, three home runs and 11 RBI with a .300 batting average.
Texas A&M pitchers have been dominant on the season with a 1.50 ERA, .191 opponent batting average and 73 strikeouts in 72.0 innings.
#18 TEXAS A&M AGGIES (7-1) at FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS (6-2)
Beiden Field (5,757) • Fresno, California
SCHEDULE: Friday 8:35 pm; Saturday 4:05 pm; Sunday 2:05 pm (all times Central)
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620 Dave South, play-by-play
LIVE VIDEO: gobulldogs.com/videos (part of the Mountain West Network)
LIVE AUDIO: aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS: gobulldogs.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS: Texas A&M - 18th (NCBWA), 23rd (BA), RV (USAT), 23rd (CollBB)
SERIES HISTORY: Fresno State leads 3-0
SERIES STREAK: Fresno State has won three straight
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 1-1, 1.38) vs. #40 Jordan Brink (Jr., RHP, 1-0, 0.61)
• SATURDAY: #54 Parker Ray (Sr., RHP, 1-0, 2.31) vs. #46 Jimmy Lambert (Fr., RHP, 0-1, 3.48)
• SUNDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 1-0, 0.00) vs. #41 Tim Borst (So., RHP, 0-0, 3.86)
TEXAS A&M/FRESNO SERIES NOTABLES
Fresno State owns a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series. The teams met twice in Fresno in 1988 as part of the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic. The Aggies opened the tournament with a 6-5 loss to the Bulldogs in 13 innings and after stringing together four consecutive wins in the tournament, A&M lost to Fresno State on the final day, 4-0. In 1997, the squads faced off on the first day of action at the NCAA Palo Alto Regional with the Bulldogs scoring a 2-1 victory.
MORE ON FRESNO STATE
The Bulldogs enter the weekend with a 6-2 mark, including a 3-0 record in the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State opened the season by win-ning two of three at UC Irvine with both wins coming in extra innings. The Bulldogs beat Grand Canyon (10-1) and lost to Sacramento State (6-4) in the initial week of midweek action before sweeping Nevada in a three-game series to open MWC play last weekend.
Fresno State is batting .276 on the year with 44 runs in eight games (5.5 rpg). Taylor Ward (.375, 2 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI) and Trent Woodward (.370, 8 runs, 2 2B, 6 RBI) lead the offense. The Bulldogs pitching staff owns a 2.96 ERA and is holding foes to a .220 batting average. Friday night starter Jordan Brink has led the staff with a 1-0 record, .109 opponent batting average and 0.61 ERA on the season. He held Nevada to one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four over 8.1 innings.
Fresno State is coming off a 23-33 campaign in 2013, finishing fourth in the Mountain West Conference with a 14-16 mark. The Bulldogs went 2-2 in the MWC Tournament. Head coach Mike Batesole is in his 12th season as head coach of at Fresno State, owning a 389-299 record as the Bulldogs’ skipper.
Last weekend, Fresno State logged the 2,400th win in program history. The Bulldogs shocked the college baseball world in 2008 with their national title run in Omaha as a regional No. 4 team, winning their first College World Series title in their fourth visit to Rosenblatt Stadium. Fresno State has made 33 NCAA Tournament Appearances.
The Bulldogs boast 46 players who have made it to the Major Leagues, including nine players who have enjoyed careers of at least 10 years in length. Current MLB players include Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Matt Garza, Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister, Texas Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers and Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Justin Wilson. Other notable baseball alums include 1991 NL MVP and 1991 NL Batting Champion Terry Pendleton, five time 15-game winner Kevin Appier and two-time MLB All-Star Dick Ruthven.
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 mid-week starts, logging 23 strikeouts in 27.2 innings.
Texas A&M starting pitchers combined to log a 4-1 record and 1.09 ERA over the first two weeks of the season. On the first two weekends Daniel Mengden, Parker Ray and Grayson Long held foes to a .193 batting average, allowing six runs, five earned, on 27 hits and 13 walks while striking out 38 over 38.2 innings and freshman Tyler Stubblefield allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out 17 over 10.2 innings.
Through two starts, Long has yet to allow a run in 14.0 innings, scattering seven hits and four walks while striking out nine, posting a 1-0 record. Mengden owns a 1.38 ERA with a 1-1 record, allowing three runs, two earned, on eight hits and four walks while striking out 20 over 13.0 innings.
The Aggies’ bullpen allowed just six runs in 22.2 innings of work over the first eight games, earning three wins. The reserves sported a 2.38 ERA and .202 opponent batting average in the first two weeks, allowing six runs on 17 hits, including 12 singles, and eight walks while striking out 18. Andrew Vinson has led the charges with 6.2 blank innings over five games, retiring 20-of-22 batters he faced, including six strikeouts. Freshman Ryan Hendrix has also worked 3.0 scoreless frames over three appearances.
NOTTEBROK TOUCHED WITH OLSEN MAGIC
Hundreds of Aggies before him have gone their whole career without providing Olsen Magic. Logan Nottebrok delivered a special moment for the 12th Man twice in his first six games in College Station.
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.
In the Aggies’ 7-5 win vs. Sacaramento 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.
BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen saw action in the last two games of the Sacramento State series and the mid-week tilt vs Houston Baptist as a defensive replacement. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 195 career games under his belt, 46 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). With five more games, Bratsen will become the 15th Aggie to play in 200 games.
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.
MORE GREAT STARTS
The Aggies are hitting .314 (11-for-35) with a .405 on-base percentage and .400 slugging percentage in the first inning of games. Blake Allemand is hitting 3-for-6 with three runs and one RBI in the first inning. Logan Nottebrok is 3-for-8 with two doubles, two runs and four RBI.
A&M is outscoring opponents 10-0 in the first inning of games. Aggie pitchers have yielded just two hits and two walks in the first inning of the first eight games of the season. The opponents are hitting just .074 in the first inning of games.
NEWCOMERS TO MAKE IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Texas A&M have had 10 newcomers see action in the first eight games, including seven freshmen and three junior college transfers.
On the mound, freshmen Mark Ecker, Ryan Hendrix and Tyler Stubblefield combined to work 16.2 innings. Ecker worked one inning, allowing one run in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 11-2 win. Stubblefield worked 2.0 scoreless innings and Hendrix tossed 1.0 blank inning in Friday’s 10-2 victory. On Tuesday, Stubblefield earned his first win, fanning nine and allowing one run in 6.1 innings and Hendrix pitched a perfect ninth in a 5-1 win.
Transfers Logan Nottebrok and Patrick McLendon have both started at least six games on the left-side of the infield. Nottebrok hit .300 (9-for-30) with 11 RBI, three doubles and three home run, with two dingers being of the walk-off variety. McLendon hit .280 (7-for-25) with six runs and five RBI.
Freshman Nick Banks has three starts in the outfield and freshmen Ryne Birk and Ronnie Gideon and transfer G.R. Hinsley have each contributed two starts. Freshman Nick Choruby has seen action in three games as a defensive substitute and pinch-runner and he got one at-bat in last Tuesday’s win over SFA.
The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all eight 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.
Logan Nottebrok and Jace Statum are the only Aggies to start in all eight games to start the season.
SETTING THE TABLE
A&M batters leading off an inning own a .373 on-base percentage and .276 batting average (16-for-58). JB Moss and Logan Nottebrok both have three hits to lead off frames. Moss has reached base on five occasions with three hits and two walks.
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 players are hitting .300 (27-for-90) with six doubles and 40 RBI with runners on second and/or third base. Patrick McLendon is hitting 4-for-8 with five RBI to lead the way. Hunter Melton is batting 4-for-8 with one double and four RBI. Logan Nottebrok (4-for-10, 6 RBI) and Mitchell Nau (4-for-10, 3 RBI) are hitting .400 with runners in scoring position.
Texas A&M pitchers are holding the foes to a .149 batting average (10-for-67) with runners in scoring position. Grayson Long leads the way, holding opponents hitless in 13 at-bats with runners on base.
BEARING DOWN WITH RUNNERS ON BASE
Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .171 (20-for-117) batting average with runners on base. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the 23 batters he has faced with runners on base to one walk, one sacrifice bunt and a .048 batting average on 1-for-21 at the plate. Tyler Stubblefield has al-lowed a .063 (1-for-16) batting average with one hit batsmen and eight strikeouts with runners on base.
The Aggies have already produced six innings in which they have scored four or more runs this season. By contrast, A&M produced just 11 “bigin-nings” 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 pitchers have prevented a big inning by the opponents. The most runs a foe has scored in an inning was three by Sacramento State in the ninth inning of the Aggies’ 7-5 win in the Saturday night contest.
Texas A&M 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).
THE RESPONSE TEAM
Texas A&M’s offense has specialized in offering an immediate response to opponents’ scoring this season. Aggies’ foes have scored in nine innings in 2014. Texas A&M has had an opportunity to bat in the next half inning on eight occasions (Northeastern scored in the ninth inning on Feb. 15 and A&M did not bat in the home half in the 11-2 victory) and scored runs in six of those innings. Ironically, the only inning the Aggies did not respond to an opponents’ score in the next half inning was in their 1-0 loss to Sacramento State. In the six aforementioned innings, the Aggies’ opponents scored 11 runs and A&M responded with a combined 13 runs in the next half innings.
Aggie pitchers have kept opponents from hitting a home run this season. In fact, the Maroon and White have limited opponents to just eight extra-base hits, including seven doubles and one triple. The opponents slugging percentage is an anemic .225 compared to a .406 slugging percentage for Aggie hitters.
Texas A&M plays a pair of midweek games heading to Global Life Park for a 7 pm game against UT Arlington on Tuesday and hosting Texas Southern for a 6:35.