COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Aggies open up the home portion of their SEC schedule on Friday with a three-game series against the Florida Gators. Last season, Texas A&M posted a 6-3 win over Florida in the opening round of the SEC Tournament, their only meeting as league brethren.
Texas A&M is hoping to build momentum, entering the series on a two-game win streak. The Aggies have reshuffled the weekend rotation with Grayson Long (2-0, 0.26 ERA) moving up to Saturday and Tyler Stubblefield (3-1, 1.84 ERA) making his first weekend start on Sunday.
Florida is riding high after winning two of three games against Arkansas on the opening weekend of the SEC season and posting a midweek win over No. 1 Florida State.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (15-7, 1-2 SEC) vs. FLORIDA GATORS (14-7, 2-1 SEC)
MARCH 21-23, 2014
OLSEN FIELD AT BLUE BELL PARK • COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS
SCHEDULE: Friday 6:35 pm; Saturday 2:05 pm; Sunday 1:05 pm
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620 - Dave South play-by-play
LIVE VIDEO: aggieathletics.com (with premium subscription)
LIVE AUDIO: aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS: tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS: Texas A&M - 27th (NCBWA)
SERIES HISTORY: A&M leads 7-1
SERIES STREAKS: A&M has won the last five meetings
- Have a Catch: fans invited to play catch in the outfield 30 minutes after the game
- 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
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 2-3, 3.12) vs. # 32 Logan Shore (Fr., RHP, 1-0, 0.68)
• SATURDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 2-0, 0.26) vs. #25 Eric Hanhold (So., RHP, 3-1, 1.93)
• SUNDAY: #51 Tyler Stubblefield (Fr., LHP, 3-1, 1.84) vs. TBA
TEXAS A&M/FLORIDA SERIES NOTABLES
The Aggies own a 7-1 advantage in the all-time series against Florida. Last season, A&M posted a 6-3 win over the Gators in the first round of the SEC Tournament. It marked the only meeting between the teams in the Aggies’ inaugural SEC campaign. Hunter Melton keyed the win with a three-run home run and RBI single. Daniel Mengden worked a complete-game, allowing three runs, one earned, on five hits and one walk while striking out 11 in 9.0 innings.
In 2007, the Maroon and White swept a three-game series in College Station by a combined tally of 26-7. The Aggies won two-of-three in Gainesville in 2006, sandwiching a pair of shutouts victories (4-0 and 1-0) around a 4-1 loss. In the first meeting of the all-time series, the Aggies eliminated host Florida from the 1992 NCAA East Regional with a 6-5 win.
MORE ON FLORIDA
Florida enters the weekend with a 14-7 overall record and 2-1 in the SEC. Florida is hitting .258 as a team with a .339 on-base percentage and .344 slugging percentage. Braden Mattson leads the team with a .328 batting average, nine runs, four doubles, one home run and 13 RBI. Richie Martin is hitting .314 with 19 runs, six doubles, one triple, seven RBI and six stolen bases. Taylor Gushue boasts a .307 batting average, 13 runs, eight doubles, two home runs and 16 RBI.
The Gators pitching staff owns a 3.03 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .238 batting average. Logan Shore leads the team with a 0.68 ERA, going 1-1 with 21 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. Closer Ryan Harris is 1-0 with three saves and a 0.73 ERA in 11 outings.
The Gators have made eight College World Series, including three of the last four years. They finished as runner-ups in 2005 and 2011, losing to Texas and South Carolina, respectively. Florida has earned bids to 28 NCAA Championships, including the last five years and 13 of the last 15 seasons. The Gators own 12 SEC regular-season titles and six conference tournament crowns.
Florida boasts 60 former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is headlined by 10-year Cleveland Indians veteran, four-time AL All-Star and 1953 AL Most Valuable Player Al Rosen, two-time NL All-Star and 1993 Gold Glove second baseman Robby Thompson and two-time NL All-Star and two-time World Series champion David Eckstein.
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 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... current ERA (2.71) ranks 15th on A&M’s career list (minimum 100 IP)... Heads into the weekend ranked third in the SEC in innings pitched (34.2) and strikeouts (39).
SATURDAY’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... Enters the weekend leading the SEC with a 0.26 ERA and sixth in innings pitched... Started the season by working 21.0 scoreless innings.
SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #51 TYLER STUBBLEFIELD
Owns a 1.54 ERA and 3-0 record in his five starts, allowing five runs, four earned, on 18 hits and seven walks while striking out 32 over 21.1 innings. Earned his first career win three 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. Two weeks ago, 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. Kept UT Pan American scoreless through 5.0 innings, scatter two hits and two walks while striking out six in a 13-0 win last week. In his last start, Stubblefield stumbled a bit, allowing three runs in 2.0 innings.
PROTECTING THE HOMEFRONT
The Aggies are 13-2 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .313 at home with eight players logging batting averages over .300. Patrick McLendon leads the way with a .395 mark with 12 runs and 12 RBI in 12 games. Jace Statum (.387) and Troy Stein (.342) are both hitting over .340. JB Moss has a team-high 14 runs at Blue Bell Park and Logan Nottebrok and Cole Lankford lead the squad with 15 RBI.
On the mound, the Aggies have a 2.04 ERA and are holding opponents to a .193 batting average. Grayson Long (1-0, 0.44), Daniel Mengden (2-1, 1.35) and Tyler Stubblefield (2-0, 1.69) have been dominant on the familiar mound.
Texas A&M starting pitchers have combined to log a 10-4 record and 2.12 ERA through the first 22 games of the season. Matt Kent, Grayson Long and Tyler Stubblefield own sub-2.00 ERAs in starting roles. Kent has scattered seven hits and three walks while striking out nine over 9.0 innings in his two starts. Long has allowed one run through 34.0 innings of work, yielding 22 hits and 10 walks while striking out 22. He is holding opponents to a .183 batting average. Stubblefield is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his five starts. He has allowed just five runs, four earned, on 18 hits and seven walks while striking out 32 over 23.1 innings and holding opponents to a .217 batting average.
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 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 BASES LOADED
The Aggies are currently hitting .381 (8-for-21) with four walks, three HBP and six sacrifice flies in 34 plate appearances (.441 OBP) with bases loaded. A&M has four doubles and 27 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.
BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 14 games, including seven as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter and seven starts. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 206 career games under his belt, 35 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). On Tuesday, Bratsen moved into 11th place on A&M’s career, tying Billy Harlan (1991-94).
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.
BRATSEN STEALING THE SHOW
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.
IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .409 (9-for-22) with one walk, one sacrifice fly, one double, one home run and seven RBI in 24 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-3, one double, one home run, 5 RBI), Ryne Birk (2-for-3), Krey Bratsen (1-for-1, 1 RBI), Nick Choruby (1-for-2), Jonathan Moroney (1-for-3, 1 RBI) and JB Moss (1-for-2) account for the eight hits.
JESTER CLIMBING AGGIES CAREER SAVES LIST
With his two saves against Louisiana Tech, Jason Jester moved into a tie with Chris Russ (1998-2001) for second place on A&M’s career saves list with 16. He needs seven saves to equal the career mark of 23 set by Scott Centala (1987-89).
The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 22 games this season. With Krey Bratsen and Logan Taylor returning from early season ailments, the Maroon and White are expected to continue shuffling the deck. Last season, A&M used 52 different batting orders in their 63 games. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 21. Twelve different Aggies have started at least seven games this season. Logan Taylor (17 - SS) and Lankford (21 - 1B) are the only two Aggies to start more than 16 games at the same position. Seven different players have batted in the eighth spot in the batting order and six different players have hit in the seven hole.
LANKFORD IS A TOUGH PUNCH-OUT
First baseman Cole Lankford has just one strike out in 2014, going his first 19 games without being punched out. Through 90 plate appearances, the junior is batting .325 (27-for-83) with four walks and three sacrifice flies. In 2013, Lankford struck out once every 6.9 plate appearances. Last season, he fanned 33 times in 229 plate appearances, hitting .352 (76-for-216) with nine walks, three HBP and one sacrifice fly.
BEARING DOWN WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION
Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .185 (38-for-205) batting average with runners in scoring position. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the 30 batters he has faced with runners in scoring position to two walks, one HBP and one hit in 30 plate appearances, going 1-for-27 (.037). Matt Kent has faced 17 batters with runners in scoring position, allowing one walk and two hits (2-for-14 - .125).
The Aggies are also holding foes to a .208 batting average (68-for-327) with runners on base.
EVERY DAY PITCHER
Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 22 games, making 14 appearances. He is 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA and earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington. He has allowed six runs, four earned, on 10 hits and five walks while striking out 15 in 16.0 innings of work. He is already nearing his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.
Texas A&M wraps up its five-game homestand on Tuesday when the Aggies host the Sam Houston State Bearkats in a 6:35 pm contest on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.