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Aggies Host No. 17 Kentucky in Pivotal SEC Weekend

April 17, 2014
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Aggies embark on pivotal three-game home series against the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats beginning on Friday.

Texas A&M is looking to build on momentum form their series victory over the then No. 7 Vanderbilt Commodores last weekend in Nashville. It marked the first home series loss for the Commodores since April of 2012. The Maroon and White are also coming off their most productive offensive game of the season with their 20-2 win against Abilene Christian on Wednesday.

Kentucky is the only SEC team the Aggies have not faced since joining the league for the 2013 campaign.

The Wildcats lead the SEC in scoring with 8.49 runs per game and rank second with a .310 batting average. Kentucky features one of the nation’s top two-way players in AJ Reed who is hitting .363 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI at the plate and a owns a 6-1 record with 42 strikeouts and a 2.29 ERA on the mound.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (22-15, 7-8 SEC) vs. #17 KENTUCKY (24-13, 7-8)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas

SCHEDULE - Friday 6:35 pm; Saturday 2:05 pm; Sunday 12:05 pm
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620  (Dave South - play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO - aggieathletics.com (premium subscription)
LIVE AUDIO - aggieathletics.com  •  radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS - tamu.statbroadcast.com/tamustats.com (mobile devices)
RANKINGS - A&M - unranked; UK - #17 (NCBWA) / #19 (BA) / #22 (USAT)
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M leads 3-1
SERIES STREAKS – Kentucky won the most recent meeting

 PROMOTIONS

Sat 19
2:05 PM

Baseball

Kentucky

- Have a Catch: fans invited to play catch in the outfield 30 minutes after the game

 

Sun 20
12:05 PM

Baseball

Kentucky

- 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: Jason Jester (Sr., RHP, 2-2, ) vs AJ Reed (Jr., LHP, 6-1, 2.29)
• SATURDAY: Daniel Mengden (Jr., RHP, 2-5, ) vs Dylan Dwyer (So., LHP, 4-1, 3.76)
• SUNDAY: Grayson Long (So., RHP, 4-1, 2.47) vs Andrew Nelson (Jr., RHP, 1-3, 3.22)

TEXAS A&M/KENTUCKY SERIES NOTABLES
The Aggies own a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series against Kentucky with all four games occurring in College Station. In 1989, the teams split a pair of games at Olsen Field, 3-2 and 11-4. In 2002, the team’s met twice with the Aggies winning 4-0 in the first meeting and Kentucky prevailing three days later, 7-1.

MORE ON KENTUCKY
The Wildcats enter the fray with a 24-13 overall record and are tied with Vanderbilt for fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division with a 7-8 league ledger.

Kentucky leads the SEC with 314 runs and ranks second with a .310 batting average. The Wildcats have five players batting over .330 lead by AJ Reed with a .363 average, 14 home runs and 48 RBI in 40 games. Michael Thomas is hitting .344 with 33 runs, six home runs and 35 RBI. Thomas Bernal sports a .343 batting average followed by Max Kuhn (.336) and Austin Cousino (.335).

One of the top two-way players in the country, Reed is also the ace of the pitching staff with a 6-1 record and 2.29 ERA. As a team, Kentucky owns a 3.28 ERA and .256 opponent batting average.

The Wildcats have made seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including three since 2006. The most recent appearance came in 2012. Kentucky’s lone SEC baseball title came in 2006.

Kentucky boasts 30 former players who finished their collegiate career as a Wildcat and have gone on to play in Major League Baseball. The most recognizable name is 2006 NL Cy Young winner and three-time All-Star Brandon Webb and 11-year veteran Jim Leyritz. Other notables include Joe Blanton, Doug Flynn and Terry Shumpert.

FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTER: #20 JASON JESTER
After 48 relief appearances, Jester made his first career start last week at Vanderbilt... allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out four over 4.0 innings in 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... prior to his start his longest career outing was 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 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... in his start against Alabama, became 16th Aggie to reach the 200-strikeout plateau for a career... Heads into the weekend ranked second in the SEC in strikeouts (68) and seventh in innings pitched (60.0).

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 6.07 in 2014.... Held Vanderbilt to two runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out four over 7.2 innings last weekend.

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.

IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .342 (13-for-38) with four walks, one sacrifice fly, one sac bunt, one double, one home run and 10 RBI in 44 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-3, one double, one home run, 5 RBI) and Ryne Birk (4-for-8, one triple, 3 RBI) are the top pinch-hitting options. Krey Bratsen (1-for-1, one sac bunt, 1 RBI), Nick Banks (1-for-2), Nick Choruby (1-for-2), Jonathan Moroney (1-for-7, one sac fly, 1 RBI), JB Moss (1-for-2, two walks) and Jace Statum (1-for-3) account for the other six hits.

BRATSEN CLIMBING AGGIES’ ALL-TIME GAMES LIST
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen has seen action in 29 games, including 17 starts and 12 games as a defensive replacement/pinch-hitter. Bratsen has a chance to set the Aggies’ all-time record for games played. He currently has 221 career games under his belt, 20 shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). Over the weekend he passed Kyle Colligan (218 - 2006-09) for seventh place. He has an opportunity to move into fifth place this weekend, approaching No. 6 Robert Harris (222 - 1992-95) and Brian Thomas (223 - 1990-93).

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 80 which ranks third. He is just three 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.

PROTECTING THE HOMEFRONT
The Aggies are 18-7 in home games in 2014. Offensively, the Aggies are hitting .303 at home with six players logging batting averages of .300 or higher. Jace Statum (.345), Cole Lankford (.340), Logan Taylor (.333) and Nick Banks (.328) are all batting .325 or higher. Lankford leads the team with 25 RBI with five doubles and three home runs. Blake Allemand (.309) leads the team with 17 runs at home. Logan Nottebrok (.271) has five doubles, five home runs and 19 RBI.

OFFENSIVE TURNAROUND
After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 25 contests, hitting .299 (267-for-894) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.370) and slugging (.343/.398) numbers are also up over the span. It is starting to translate into a jump in runs as the Aggies scoring has ticked up from 5.15 runs per game in the first 13 contests to 6.08 in the last 25.

BRATSEN GETTING UP TO SPEED
After missing the beginning of the season with an illness, Krey Bratsen took time to get in the groove in 2014. He played in just 16 of A&M’s first 24 games, including seven starts, hitting .219 (7-for-32). Bratsen has heated up to the tune of .350 (14-for-40) over the Aggies’ last 14 contests. His on-base (.306/.395) and slugging (.219/.450) are also up substantially over the span and he owns team-highs with 14 runs and six stolen bases in the A&M’s 14 games (13 games/10 starts). On the year, Bratsen is batting .292 (21-for-72) with 19 runs, two doubles, one triple, seven RBI and 10 stolen bases.

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 .372 (28-for-78) over the last 22 contests. His on-base (.276/.419) and slugging (.200/.487) are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is hitting .320 (33-for-103) with five doubles, one triple, one home run and 12 RBI in 33 games, including 31 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 25 games, Taylor is hitting .301 (31-for-103) with 11 doubles and 13 RBI. His on-base (.219/.339) and slugging (.200/.456) numbers are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Taylor is hitting .271 (36-for-133) with 17 runs, 12 doubles, one triple, one home run and 17 RBI in 33 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 .353 (24-for-68) with 16 runs and 11 RBI in 20 games, including 18 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .287 with 21 runs and 16 RBI in 32 games, including 29 starts.

BIG INNINGS
The Aggies have already produced 14 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 four games the Aggies have produced multiple “big innings”: the Aggies’ 11-2 win over Northeastern, 12-3 win over Stephen F Austin, 13-8 win vs Alabama and 20-2 win against Abilene Christian. The highest run total in an inning this season is seven in the seventh inning of A&M’s win against ACU. The Aggies also scored six runs in the fourth inning. The only time this season, the Aggies have lost when posting a big inning was in their 10-8 loss to Houston when the Cougars responded with a big inning of their own, scoring five runs in the fourth after A&M scored four in the third.

In all, Texas A&M pitchers have allowed four “big innings” by opponents, five runs in the sixth inning of the Aggies’ 6-5 loss at Fresno State, four runs in the eighth inning of the series finale against Louisiana Tech and four runs in the second inning of an 8-1 loss to Sam Houston State, in addition to the aforementioned five-run fourth inning against Houston.

NIP-AND-TUCK
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.

ALLEMAND STREAKING AT THE PLATE
Blake Allemand enters the weekend with the longest hit streak of his career at 12 games. During the span Allemand is hitting .386 (17-for-44) with 11 runs, two doubles, one triple, nine RBI, 11 walks and four sacrifice bunts. He boasts a .509 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage over the last dozen contests.

WALK-OFF WINS
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.

EVERY DAY PITCHER
Andrew Vinson has logged plenty of work in the first 38 games, making 20 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 2.81 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 15 hits and five walks while striking out 27 in 25.2 innings of work. He has already exceeded his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.

MENGDEN REACHES 200 STRIKEOUT PLATEAU
In his outing against Alabama, 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. He enters the weekend with 203 strikes and with six more more strikeouts, Mengden will tie John Stilson (209 - 2010-11) for 15th place on A&M’s career list. He need 44 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10. Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 between 1997-99.

AGGIES HIT 2,500-WIN MARK
Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,502-1,419-42 mark. Last weekend they became 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 less than 20 wins shy of the plateau and have the possibility of reaching the mark this season.

UP NEXT
The Aggies return to action on Tuesday with a 6:30 pm contest at No. 21 Rice.

 

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