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Aggies Make First-Ever Trip to Athens

March 27, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M Aggies make their first-ever venture to Athens for a three-game series against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Maroon and White will be looking to string together their second consecutive weekend series win and their first road series win of the year.

For the second consecutive weekend, the rotation of Daniel Mengden, Grayson Long and Tyler Stubblefield will take the mound for A&M. Last weekend, Long picked up the only win by a starter on the weekend, but Stubblefield was solid on Sunday, allowing two runs over 6.0 innings as A&M picked up the win in walk-off fashion in the 11th inning.

Cole Lankford (.357) and Jonathan Moroney (.353) are the Aggies’ top hitters in SEC play. Lankford is 10-for-28 at the plate with three runs, one double and two RBI. Moroney is 6-for-17 with two runs, one double and four RBI.

SCHEDULE - Friday 6 pm CT; Saturday 12 pm CT; Sunday 12 pm CT
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620  Dave South play-by-play
LIVE VIDEO - Friday and Saturday (ESPN3/Watch ESPN); Sunday on GTV
LIVE AUDIO -  • (free)
LIVE STATS - (mobile devices)
RANKINGS - Texas A&M - 22nd (NCBWA)
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M leads 3-0
SERIES STREAKS - Texas A&M has won all three meetings

• FRIDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 2-3, 3.24) vs. # 18 Ryan Lawlor (So., LHP, 2-2, 5.02)
• SATURDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 3-0, 1.13) vs. #22 Robert Tyler (Fr., RHP, 1-2, 1.91)
• SUNDAY: #51 Tyler Stubblefield (Fr., LHP, 3-1, 2.04) vs. #38 Patrick Boling (Sr., LHP, 2-2, 3.26)

The Aggies are 6-3 in one-run games and 6-4 in games decided by one run or/or extra innings. Last weekend, all four of A&M’s games were closely contested with three 11-inning affairs, including an 8-7 win over Columbia, 5-3 loss to Florida on Friday and a 4-3 win vs. the Gators on Sunday.

Texas A&M has four walk-off wins this season at Blue Bell Park. 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.

Last week, Cole Lankford joined in on the drama hitting a walk-off double in the 11th against Columbia to register an 8-7 win and capping off the Florida series with a walk-off single in the 11th for the 4-3 triumph.

Texas A&M owns a 3-0 edge in the all-time series against Georgia, all played in 2013. The series was the SEC debut for A&M. The Aggies won the opener 4-1, followed by a 2-1 win in 10 innings and an 11-4 victory. A&M posted a 1.29 ERA for the weekend and held Georgia to 25 hits and four walks while striking out 21 in 28.0 innings. On Friday, Kyle Martin earned the win, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks while striking out six in 6.1 innings. Daniel Mengden yielded one run on six hits while striking out eight over 8.0 innings in the Saturday contest which required a walk-off single by Krey Bratsen in the 10th inning. Cole Lankford logged three hits and scored three runs while Blake Allemand drove in three runs on Sunday. Jace Statum posted a .778 on-base percentage for the series, going 2-for-4 with three runs, two RBI, five walks, two sacrifice bunts and two stolen bases.

Georgia enters the fray with a 14-11-1 record including a 1-4-1 mark in SEC play. After start the season 2-6 with a slate that included two games against No. 1 Florida State, the Bulldogs bounced back to win 11 games in a row, including their SEC opener against last season’s national runner-up Mississippi State. Since then, Georgia has gone 1-5-1 with two losses to Mississippi State and a 0-2-1 weekend against LSU in Baton Rouge.

The Bulldogs are hitting .269 as a team with a .382 on-base percentage and .347 slugging percentage. Four regulars in the Georgia lineup are hitting over .300, headlined by Hunter Cole with a .330 batting average, 16 runs, nine doubles, one home run and 15 RBI in 26 games. Nelson Ward is batting .310 with team-highs in runs (22), doubles (nine), RBI (18) and stolen bases (eight). Connor Welton is hitting .305 with 22 runs, one double, one triple, one home run and 10 RBI.

The pitching staff owns a 4.39 ERA and opponent batting average of .274. The team strikeout-to-walk ratio is at 1.52-to-1. Current Saturday starter Robert Taylor leads the team with a 1.91 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 33.0 innings of work. His 1-2 record belies his enviable 0.85 WHIP.

Georgia is guided by first-year head coach Scott Stricklin. He arrived at Athens after a nine-year stint at Kent State, including leading the Golden Flashes to the College World Series in 2012. He led Kent State to seven Mid-American Conference East Division titles, five MAC regular-season championships, five MAC tournament titles and five NCAA Regional appearances.

The Bulldogs have been to the College World Series on six occasions, including winning the national championship in 1990. Former head coach David Perno guided Georgia to three CWS, including finishing as the runner-up to upstart Fresno State in 2008. Georgia boasts 46 former players who went on to the Major Leagues. The group is led by four-time MLB All-Star pitcher and 1943 AL MVP Spud Chandler, two-time MLB All-Star first baseman Glenn Davis and emerging Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.

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 (2.75) ranks 15th on A&M’s career list (minimum 100 IP)... Heads into the weekend ranked third in the SEC in innings pitched (41.2) and second in strikeouts (46).

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 ranked sixth with a 1.13 ERA and 10th in innings pitched with 39.2... Started the season by working 21.0 scoreless innings... After averaging just 4.37 innings per start as a freshman, Long has stretched his average innings per start to 6.61 in 2014.

Owns a 1.84 ERA and 3-0 record in his six starts, allowing seven runs, six earned, on 23 hits and nine walks while striking out 35 over 29.1 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... Three 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 two weeks ago... Allowed two runs over 6.0 innings in his first career weekend and conference start, a game that A&M won in 11 innings against Florida, 4-3.

The Aggies are currently hitting .346 (9-for-26) with four walks, three HBP and six sacrifice flies in 39 plate appearances (.410 OBP) with bases loaded. A&M has four doubles and 29 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.

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.

After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 18 games, including nine as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter and nine starts. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 210 career games under his belt, 31 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Last weekend, Bratsen moved into 10th place on A&M’s career, passing Mike Scanlin (207 - 1983-86).

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.

The Aggies are currently hitting .370 (10-for-27) with one walk, one sacrifice fly, one sac bunt, one double, one home run and seven RBI in 31 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, one sac bunt, 1 RBI), Nick Banks (1-for-2), Nick Choruby (1-for-2), Jonathan Moroney (1-for-3, 1 RBI) and JB Moss (1-for-2) account for the 10 hits.

With his three saves on the season, Jason Jester moved past Chris Russ (16 - 1998-2001) and Travis Starling (15 - 2007-09) for second place on A&M’s career saves list with 17. He needs six saves to equal the career mark of 23 set by Scott Centala (1987-89).

The Aggies are 15-4 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .298 at home with eight players logging batting averages of .300 or higher. Jace Statum (.357), Patrick McLendon (.356)  and Nick Banks (.333) are all batting over .330. Lankford leads the team with 17 RBI, batting .321 with five doubles and one home run. McLendon and JB Moss (.326) share the team-high with 14 runs. Logan Nottebrok (.265) has five doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI.

On the mound, the Aggies have a 2.39 ERA and are holding opponents to a .220 batting average. Grayson Long (2-0, 1.71), Tyler Stubblefield (2-0, 1.98) and Daniel Mengden (2-1, 2.00) have been dominant on the familiar mound.

The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 26 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 26. Twelve different Aggies have started at least eight games this season. Logan Taylor (21 - SS) and Lankford (25 - 1B) are the only two Aggies to start more than 18 games at the same position. Eight different players have batted in the eighth spot in the batting order and seven different players have hit in the seven hole.

First baseman Cole Lankford has just three strikeouts in 2014, fanning just once every 36.7 plate appearances and going his first 19 games without being punched out. Through 110 plate appearances, the junior is batting .320 (33-for-103) 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.

Texas A&M pitchers are holding opponents to a .218 (55-for-252) batting average with runners in scoring position. Grayson Long leads the way, holding the 41 batters he has faced with runners in scoring position to four walks, one sac bunt, one sacrifice fly,  one HBP and two hits in 41 plate appearances, going 2-for-34 (.059). Matt Kent has faced 23 batters with runners in scoring position, allowing one walk, one sacrifice fly and three hits (3-for-21 - .143).

The Aggies are also holding foes to a .237 batting average (94-for-397) with runners on base.

Texas A&M returns to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday as the Aggies host the No. 17 Houston Cougars in a 6:35 pm contest.

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