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A&M has Final Tune-up before SEC Play

March 10, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies host the UT Pan American Broncs in a pair of games on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park with a night game on Tuesday (6:35 pm) and a matinee on Wednesday (3:05 pm).

With conference play beginning on Friday, the Aggies have two games left to tune-up their offense which has shown signs of brilliance but is working on consistency. A&M has seven innings of four or more runs already this season after posting just 11 in 2013.

The Aggies will be throwing a pair of southpaws who registered stout performances in victories last week. Tuesday’s starter is 2-0 with 0.55 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 16.1 innings in his first three starts. Matt Kent made his first start of the season last week, posting career highs with 6.0 innings pitched and nine strikeouts, holding Texas Southern scoreless with just three hits and one walk to earn the win.

MARCH 11-12, 2014

SCHEDULE: Tuesday 6:35 pm; Wednesday 3:05 pm
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620 – Will Johnson. play-by-play
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RANKINGS: Texas A&M - 25th (NCBWA); 27th (Collegiate Baseball)
SERIES HISTORY: A&M leads 58-18
SERIES STREAKS: A&M has won the last meeting

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JAC Free Admission – Junior Aggie Club members get in free

JAC Free Admission – Junior Aggie Club members get in free

• TUESDAY: #51 Tyler Stubblefield (Fr., LHP, 2-1, 0.44) vs #32 Logan Landon (Jr., RHP, 0-1, 9.00)
• WEDNESDAY: #31 Matt Kent (So., LHP, 2-0, 1.93) vs #45 Matt Daniels (Sr., RHP, 0-1, 6.75)

A&M owns a 58-18 advantage in the all-time series against UT Pan American. The Aggies have won 15 of the last 17 and 51 of the last 57 meetings. The Broncs won 5-2 in March 2012 to split a two-game series. Last season, the squads met in just one game with A&M winning a 12-2, run-rule shortened contest at Blue Bell Park. The Aggies registered eight extra-base hits on the evening, including six doubles, one triple and one home run. Cole Lankford went 3-for-4 with three doubles, two runs and two RBI to lead the hit parade. Hunter Melton went 3-for-4 with one double, one triple, two runs and two RBI.

UT Pan American enters the fray with a 9-7 overall record and the Broncs are on a three-game win streak following a series sweep against Arlington Baptist. Other notable results include splitting a four-game series with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to start the season, winning three of four in a tournament with Northwestern State and Prairie View A&M and a narrow midweek defeat to Texas, 2-1, in 11 innings in Austin.

The Broncs are hitting .251 as a team with a .325 slugging percentage, .353 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases in 16 games. Every day starters Alex Howe and Shane Ammon are both batting over .300. Howe is hitting .327 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, eight stolen bases and six stolen bases. Ammon is batting .313 with one home run and six RBI in 12 games. 

UTPA owns a 2.58 ERA on the season with four complete-games and two shutouts, including one complete-game shutout. The staff has kept the Broncs in most games, allowing over five runs on four occasions this season.

The Broncs were once a regional power in baseball, advancing to the NCAA Championship on 13 occasions and finishing fourth at the 1971 College World Series.

UTPA boasts four former players who went on to play in Major League Baseball, headlined by the Tyrone Brothers, Jim and Wayne.

Owns a 0.55 ERA and 2-0 record in his three starts, allowing two runs, one earned, on 11 hits and four walks while striking out 26 over 16.1 innings. Earned his first career win two weeks ago at Houston Baptist, holding the Huskies to one unearned run on three hits and two walks while striking out nine over 6.1 innings. Last week he scored a road win against UT Arlington at Globe Life Park, scattering five hits and one walk while striking out nine over 5.2 shutout innings.

In 2013, went 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA… Showed good command as a freshman, walking just two batters while striking out 21 over 36.2 innings… Earned SEC Freshman of the Week accolades in 2013 after a performance in which he pitched 5.0 shutout innings, holding Ole Miss to three hits and one walk while striking out three. In a start last week against Texas Southern, his first of the season, Kent logged career-highs with 6.0 innings pitched and nine strikeouts in a 5-0 win.

Texas A&M starting pitchers combined to log a 8-2 record and 1.86 ERA through the first 16 games of the season. Matt Kent, Grayson Long and Tyler Stubblefield own sub-1.00 ERAs in starting roles. Kent scattered three hits and one walk while striking out nine in 6.0 IP in his only start. Long has allowed one run through 26.0 innings of work, scattering 15 hits and nine walks while striking out 15. He is holding opponents to a .165 batting average. Stubblefield is 2-0 with a 0.55 ERA in his three starts. He has allowed just two runs, one earned, on 11 hits and four walks while striking out 26 over 16.1 innings and holding opponents to a .186 batting average.

• Head coach Rob Childress enters his ninth season at the helm of the Texas A&M baseball program, beginning the year with a 334-187-2 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 are ranked in two of the four major college baseball polls, earning the No. 23 spot in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll and No. 27 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30.

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 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.

Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 16 games, making 10 appearances. He is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington. He has allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out 13 in 12.0 innings of work. He is already past halfway to reaching his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.

After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 10 games, including five as a defensive replacement and starts in the last five games. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 202 career games under his belt, 39 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Against UTPA, Bratsen can surpass No. 14 Brandon Wood (204 – 2010-13) on the Aggies’ all-time games list.

Senior Krey Bratsen is flying up the Aggies career stolen bases charts with 74 which ranks third. He is just nine steals from second place, trailing No. 2 Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89). Jason Tyner 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.

The Aggies are currently hitting .333 (6-for-18) with four walks, two HBP and five sacrifice flies in 29 plate appearances (.414 OBP) with bases loaded. A&M has three doubles and 22 RBI with a pond full of Aggies. Cole Lankford leads the squad going 3-for-3 with two doubles, two sacrifice flies and eight RBI in five plate appearances with bases loaded.

The Aggies are currently hitting .357 (5-for-14) with one walk in 15 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (2-for-2, one double, 2 RBI), Ryne Birk (2-for-3) and JB Moss (1-for-2) account for the five hits.

A&M is outscoring opponents 13-0 in the first inning of games. Aggie pitchers have yielded just seven hits (five singles and two triples) and five walks in the first inning of the first 16 games of the season. The opponents are hitting just .130 with 21 strikeouts in the first inning of games. Tyler Stubblefield has six first-inning strikeouts in his three starts. Parker Ray has struck out five of the 13 batters he has faced in 4.0 hitless first innings.

Texas A&M has scored first in nine of the 16 games this season and the Maroon and White own a 50-11 scoring advantage in the first four innings of games this season. Aggie pitchers are holding opponents to a .130 batting average in the first inning and .113 batting average in the third inning. In the first four innings of games, A&M pitchers have allowed just nine earned runs on 43 hits and 18 walks while striking out 68 over 64.0 innings. On the offensive end, the Aggies are hitting .348 with 14 runs, five doubles, one triple, one home run and 13 RBI in the second innings and .371 with 18 runs, five doubles and 16 RBI in fourth innings.

The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 16 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 is the only Aggies to start in all 13 games this season. Sixteen different Aggies have started at least two games this season.

The Aggies have already produced seven 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 three occasions, all in fourth innings, twice against Northeastern and once against Louisiana Tech

Texas A&M pitchers have allowed two “big innings” by opponents, five runs in the sixth inning of the Aggies’ 6-5 loss at Fresno State and four runs in the eighth inning of the series finale against Louisiana Tech.

Texas A&M opens up SEC play with a three-game series in Alabama against the Auburn Tigers beginning Friday.

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