COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Aggies head to Music City with an opportunity to score a historic victory and in search of their first road series win of the season. Entering this weekend’s SEC series at Vanderbilt, Texas A&M owns an all-time program ledger of 2,499-1,418-42. The next victory will make Texas A&M the first SEC team to hit the 2,500-win plateau and they would become the just the 12th team in NCAA Division I history to reach the milestone.
Vanderbilt enters the weekend ranked in the Top 10, but as deep as the SEC is, the Commodores find themselves at 6-6 in the conference, two games behind the conference leaders.
Texas A&M shuffled their rotation heading into the weekend with Jason Jester making his first career start on Friday.
Blake Allemand and Cole Lankford have eight-game hit streaks dating back to the Friday night game of the Georgia series. Allemand is batting .414 with eight runs, two doubles and five RBI over the span with a .528 on-base percentage and .483 slugging percentage. Lankford’s stretch has resulted in just a .278 batting average, with two 1-for-6 games, but he has five runs, two home runs and eight RBI during the streak with a .316 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (20-14,5-7 SEC) vs. NO. 7 VANDERBILT COMMODORES (26-8, 6-6 SEC)
Hawkins Field (3,700) • Nashville, Tennessee
SCHEDULE Friday 6:30 pm; Saturday 2 pm; Sunday 1 pm
RADIO WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South - play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO vucommodores.com (premium subscription)
LIVE AUDIO aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS A&M - unranked; VU - #7 (NCBWA & USAT), #10 (CB), #11 (BA)
SERIES HISTORY Series tied at 1-1
SERIES STREAKS Vanderbilt won the last meeting
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• FRIDAY: #20 Jason Jester (So., RHP, 2-2, 4.20) vs #11 Tyler Beede (Jr., RHP, 5-3, 2.81)
• SATURDAY: #15 Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 2-4, 3.32) vs #28 Jared Miller (Jr., LHP, 6-1, 2.01)
• SUNDAY: #38 Grayson Long (So., RHP, 3-1, 3-1) vs #45 Tyler Ferguson (So., RHP, 5-1, 2.25
AGGIES NEARING 2,500-WIN MARK
Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,499-1,418-42 mark. With one win, they will become the 12th NCAA Division I program and first SEC team to hit the 2,500-win plateau. The last team to reach the milestone was Washington State in 2011. Fellow SEC teams Mississippi State and Alabama both enter the weekend with 2,481 wins and have the possibility of reaching the mark thie season.
NCAA DIVISION I ALL-TIME WINS
1. Fordham - 4,354
2. Texas - 3,329
3. USC - 2,756
4. Michigan - 2,746
5. Stanford - 2,739
6. Arizona State - 2,726
7. Florida State - 2,691
8. Arizona - 2,669
9. Clemson - 2,661
10. North Carolina - 2,654
11. Washington State - 2,602
12. Texas A&M - 2,499
13. Minnesota - 2,484
14. Alabama - 2,481
14. Mississippi State - 2,481
MENGDEN REACHES 200 STRIKEOUT PLATEAU
In his last outing, Daniel Mengden reached the 200-strikeout plateau for his career. He is believed to be the 16th player in school history to reach the milestone. With nine more strikeouts, Mengden will tie John Stilson (209 - 2010-11) for 15th place on A&M’s career list. He need 47 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10. Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 between 1997-99.
TEXAS A&M/VANDERBILT SERIES NOTABLES
The Aggies and Commodores have met on two occasions with both meetings coming at the 2013 SEC Tournament. Texas A&M blanked Vanderbilt, 5-0, in the second day of action at the tournament before getting eliminated by the Commodores, 3-0, two days later. In the Aggies’ 5-0 win, Hunter Melton, Cole Lankford and Troy Stein all hit dingers and Parker Ray scattered three hits and three walks while striking out three over 8.0 innings. In Vanderbilt’s 3-0 win, Tyler Beede moved to 14-0 on the season, holding A&M scoreless, with two hits and four walks while striking out eight over 7.1 innings.
MORE ON VANDERBILT
Vanderbilt is ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation with a 26-8 overall record and 6-6 mark in SEC play. The Commodores have conference series wins against Kentucky (2-of-3) and LSU (2-of-3) and lost 2-of-3 in league series against Mississippi State and Tennessee. Vanderbilt swept non-conference series against Long Beach State, UIC, Stanford and Winthrop.
The Commodores are batting .279 on the season with a .367 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage. Four Vanderbilt players are hitting .320 or better with Dansby Swanson leading the team with a .348 batting average, 31 runs, 15 doubles, a .523 slugging percentage and 14 stolen bases. Vince Conde is hitting .336 with 22 runs and 24 RBI. Bryan Reynolds is hitting .331 with 25 runs with 11 doubles, 24 RBI, a .477 slugging percentage and eight stolen bases. Xavier Turner is hitting .323 with 10 doubles, 18 RBI and seven stolen bases.
Vanderbilt’s pitching staff owns a 2.14 ERA and is holding opponents to a .186 batting average. Walker Buehler (1.65) and Jared Miller (2.01) are both 6-1 on the year while Tyler Ferguson (2.25) comes in with a 5-1 record. Friday night starter Tyler Beede is 5-3 with a 2.81 ERA. Closer Carson Fulmer is 0-1 with nine saves and a 1.88 ERA.
The Commodores have stormed the national scene as of late with seven straight NCAA Championship berths and making their first ever College World Series appearance in 2011. Overall, Vanderbilt has 11 NCAA Championship bids. The Commodores have won six SEC regular-season titles, including three of the last seven seasons and SEC tournament crowns in 1980 and 2007.
Vanderbilt boasts 29 former players who have gone on to play Major League Baseball. The group is headlined by three-time AL All-Star and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, 19-year veteran Scott Sanderson and four-time NL All-Star Rip Sewell. Nick Christiani, Sonny Gray and Josh Zeid all made their Major League debuts in 2013.
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #JASON JESTER
With 48 appearances under his belt, Jason Jester is making his first career start... owns the Aggies’ single-season record for saves with 14... his 33 appearances in 2013, ranks fourth on A&M’s single-season list... ranks second on A&M’s career saves list with 17... longest career outing is 2.2 innings against Sam Houston State on April 16, 2013.
SATURDAY’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... in last outing, became 16th Aggie to reach the 200-strikeout plateau for a career... Heads into the weekend ranked third in the SEC in innings pitched (57.0) and second in strikeouts (65).
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... 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 5.88 in 2014... Looking to snap a stretch of three consecutive starts in which he has yielded four runs.
BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 25 games, including 12 as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter and 13 starts. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 217 career games under his belt, 24 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). On Tuesday he tied Travis Williams (217 - 1989-92) for eighth place. His next game would tie him with Kyle Colligan (218 - 2006-09) for seventh.
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.
After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 21 contests, hitting .290 (217-for-749) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.357) and slugging (.343/.372) numbers are also up over the span. Unfortunately it hasn’t translated into large jump in runs as the Aggies scoring has ticked up minimally from 5.15 runs per game in the first 13 contests to 5.19 in the last 21.
BANKS SETTLING IN AS A FRESHMAN
After a slow start in which he hit just .160 (4-for-25) in the Aggies’ first 16 games, Nick Banks has heated up to the tune of .371 (23-for-62) over the last 18 contests. His on-base (.276/.412) and slugging (.200/.500) are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is hitting .310 (27-for-87) with four doubles, one triple, one home run and 11 RBI in 28 games, including 26 starts.
HEALTHY TAYLOR STARTING TO HIT
After missing much of the preseason practice and the first five games, Logan Taylor took some time to warm up at the plate. He hit just .167 (5-for-30) in his first eight games, all starts at shortstop. But in the last 21 games, Taylor is hitting .325 (27-for-83) with nine doubles and 13 RBI. His on-base (.219/.364) and slugging (.200/.494) numbers are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Taylor is hitting .283 (32-for-113) with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run and 10 RBI in 29 games, all starts at shortstop.
PINCH-HIT SPARKS ALLEMAND HOT STREAK
After being pulled from the starting lineup with a .175 batting average (7-for-40) through the first 13 games, Blake Allemand registered a pinch-hit on March 7 against Louisiana Tech. Since the pinch-hit, Allemand is batting .358 (19-for-53) with 13 runs and seven RBI in 16 games, including 14 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .280 with 19 runs and 12 RBI in 28 games, including 25 starts.
The Aggies have posted a different batting order in all 34 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. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 33. Twelve different Aggies have started at least 13 games this season. Nick Banks (27 – RF), Lankford (31 – 1B) and Logan Taylor (29 - SS) are the only three Aggies to start more than 23 games at the same position. Nine different players have batted in the eighth spot in the batting order and eight different players have hit in the seven hole. Last season, A&M used 52 different batting orders in their 63 games.
EVERY DAY PITCHER
Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 34 games, making 19 appearances. Vinson enters the weekend ranked second in the SEC in appearances, trailing just Missouri’s Austin Tribby who has pitched in 20 contests.
He is 1-1 with a 2.88 ERA and earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington. He also garnered a win in relief in the Aggies’ 9-5 victory over Georgia on Sunday by retiring all six batters he faced. He has allowed nine runs, eight earned, on 14 hits and five walks while striking out 27 in 25.0 innings of work. He has already exceeded his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.
The Aggies are 6-4 in one-run games and 6-5 in games decided by one run or/or extra innings. In their most recent tightly contest game, the A&M dropped a 3-2 decision in the Friday night game at Georgia, allowing the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
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.
Cole Lankford got in on the fun with a game-winning double in the 11th inning of the Aggies’ 8-7 win against Columbia. Three games later Lankford delivered an RBI single in the 11th inning to seal a series’ triumph against Florida with a 4-3 victory.
The Aggies return to Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday as they host the Abilene Christian Wildcats in a 6:35 pm contest to start a brief four-game homestand.