HOOVER, Alabama - The Texas A&M Aggies head to Hoover, Alabama for their second SEC Tournament. The Maroon and White draw a familiar opponent as the Aggies play an Arkansas squad they played in Fayetteville less than 10 days ago.
The Razorbacks are hot coming into the tournament, winning six of their last seven games, all in SEC play. In Fayetteville, the Razorbacks won two of three from the Aggies with two of the three contests decided by one run and the third contest tied in the eighth inning. Last weekend, they swept a disheveled Missouri squad in Columbia.
In their first SEC Tournament, the Aggies went 2-2. Texas A&M toppled Florida, 6-3, to open the tournament and then blanked nationally No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt, 5-0. The Maroon and White were edged by then-No. 13 Mississippi State, 6-4, before being eliminated by Vanderbilt, 3-0.
The Aggie pitching staff posted a 1.50 ERA in their last trip to Hoover and A&M’s bats accounted for four of the seven home runs hit in the Tournament, including two by Hunter Melton.
AGGIES IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
The Aggies are 2-2 in the SEC Tournament, earning a berth in 2013 and posting wins against Florida (6-3) and Vanderbilt (5-0) before back-to-back losses to Mississippi State (6-4) and Vanderbilt (3-0).
Texas A&M appeared in 14 of 16 Big 12 Tournaments, winning three of the last six. The Aggies won the tournament titles in 2007, 2010 and 2011. The Maroon and White own the second-best winning percentage in tournament history (.563) with a 27-21 mark, trailing only Nebraska (.707) who went 29-12 in their 10 appearances. 2005 and 2006 were the only two seasons the Aggies didn’t make the tournament between 1997-2012.
The Aggies won SWC Tournament titles in 1986 and 1989.
TEXAS A&M AGGIES (33-23, 14-16 SEC) vs. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (35-21, 16-14 SEC)
Hoover Metropolitan Stadium - Hoover, Alabama
SCHEDULE - Approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the 9:30 am game
TELEVISION - Fox Sports South (Dave Neal - play-by-play; Larry Conley - color)
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South - play-by-play)
LIVE AUDIO - ESPN3/WatchESPN
LIVE AUDIO - aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS - SECDigitalNetwork.com
RANKINGS - Texas A&M - unranked; Arkansas – No. 23 (Collegiate Baseball)
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M leads the series 40-33-1
SERIES STREAKS - Texas A&M won the last game
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
• TUESDAY: RHP Daniel Mengden (4-7, 3.41) vs RHP Trey Killian (3-8, 2.34)
TEXAS A&M/ARKANSAS NOTABLES
Texas A&M and Arkansas have met on 74 prior occasions with the Aggies owning a 40-33-1 advantage in the all-time series. The 74 meetings is the most for the Aggies against an old guard SEC squad. This season the Razorbacks won two of three in Fayetteville, winning the Friday game, 3-2, and the Saturday affair, 7-3, before A&M responded with a 10-inning, 6-5 victory on Sunday. Arkansas won two of three last season in Fayetteville, with A&M’s lone win coming on the back of a grand slam by Jonathan Moroney in the Friday night game. A&M has won 13 of the last 21 games. Sixty of the meetings came between 1974-91 when both teams were members of the Southwest Conference. The Aggies owned a 32-28 record during the SWC era.
TUESDAY’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... ranks 13th on A&M’s career strikeout list with 228... heads into the SEC Tournament ranked second in the SEC in strikeouts (93) and fifth in innings pitched (95.0).
AGGIES HIT 2,500-WIN MARK
Texas A&M enters the weekend with a 2,512-1,427-42 mark. At Vanderbilt, the Aggies 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 seven wins shy of the plateau and have the possibility of reaching the mark this season.
IN A PINCH
The Aggies are currently hitting .370 (20-for-54) with five walks, one sacrifice fly, two sac bunts, two doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI in 62 pinch-hit appearances. Mitchell Nau (3-for-5, one double, one home run, 6 RBI), Patrick McLendon (2-for-2, one walk), Ryne Birk (6-for-12, one triple, 4 RBI) and Jonathan Moroney (3-for-10, one sac fly, 3 RBI) are the top pinch-hitting options. Jace Statum (2-for-5), Krey Bratsen (1-for-1, one sac bunt, 1 RBI), Nick Banks (1-for-2), Nick Choruby (1-for-3) and JB Moss (1-for-2, two walks) 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 44 games, including 32 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 239 career games under his belt, two shy of the career record of 241 set by Scott Livingstone (1985-88). On Friday he moved past Kevin Gonzalez (236 - 2008-11), second on the list.
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.
BREAKOUT WEEK FOR BIRK
Ryne Birk had a breakout week three weeks ago with the Aggies’ Wednesday game against Abilene Christian and three-game series against No. 24 Kentucky. In the four games, he got two starts and hit .636 (7-for-11) with one double and two home runs. In the four games, he logged a 1.273 slugging percentage, seven runs and eight RBI. In the last 19 games, Birk is reaching base on a .456 rate and is hitting .365 (23-for-13) with a team-high 16 runs, four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 12 RBI and four stolen bases. Thirty-seven games into the season, Birk appeared in just 14 games with five starts. He hit just .192 (5-for-26) with one double, one triple and three RBI during the span. Despite the limited action, he did have an impact in those first 37 games logging four of his five pinch-hits, including a three-run triple at No. 7 Vanderbilt.
SCHLOTTMANN SEES INCREASED WORKLOAD
After amassing just 7.2 innings in the Aggies’ first 35 games, Ty Schlottmann has twice logged career-long outings in A&M’s last 21 games and the Brenham native has logged four appearances of 2.0 innings or longer. He is the only non-starting pitcher to average over one inning per Aggie game the last 21 contests. Since the Maroon and White’s Saturday game at Vanderbilt, Schlottmann has worked 21.0 innings, allowing six runs on 17 hits and five walks while striking out 17 and holding opponents to a .218 batting average. He earned saves in both of A&M’s wins at No. 21 Mississippi State, including a 3.0-inning effort in the Friday win. He worked 6.2 scoreless innings against Kentucky, holding the Wildcats to two hits and one walk while striking out five. The sophomore pitched two blank frames in A&M’s 6-5 win over No. 16 Rice, holding the Owls to one hit and one walk. Prior to his 3.1 inning outing against Vanderbilt, Schlottmann’s career-long was 2.1 innings against Houston and he had only worked more than 1.0 inning on four occasions in his first 18 appearances.
Texas A&M has five walk-off wins this season at Blue Bell Park. Cole Lankford leads the team with three walk-off RBI. HE 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. He evened the series against LSU with a walk-off single of Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Tigers.
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.
BRATSEN RANKS SECOND IN CAREER STEALS AT A&M
With his 18 stolen bases on the season, senior Krey Bratsen passed Chuck Knoblauch (83 - 1987-89) for second place on A&M’s career list for stolen bases with 87. The Bryan, Texas native trails only Jason Tyner, who owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98.
The mercurial centerfielder has stolen 13 bases in the last 23 games, including three in the series finale against Kentucky and two in the series finale against Vanderbilt.
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.
Through 56 games this season, the Aggies have posted 52 different batting orders. With Logan Taylor out for the next few games, A&M figures to see more starting combinations. No Aggie has started every game, with Cole Lankford leading the squad with 55. Fifteen different Aggies have started at least 16 games this season. Nick Banks (49 – RF) and Lankford (51 – 1B) are the only three Aggies to start more than 45 games (80% of the Aggies’ games) at the same position. The sixth and seventh spots in the batting order have both been manned by 10 different players. Nine have hit in the eighth spot in the batting order and eight different players have hit in the five 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 56 games, making 29 appearances. Vinson enters the SEC Tournament second in the league in appearances, trailing Missouri’s Austin Tribby who has pitched in 31 contests.
He is 3-2 with a 2.52 ERA and two saves. He earned his first career save in the Aggies’ 5-4 win at UT Arlington and earned save in A&M’s 6-5 win at No. 16 Rice. He garnered a win in relief in the Aggies’ 9-5 victory over Georgia on Sunday by retiring all six batters he faced and picked up Sunday wins against LSU, with two innings of relief, and Arkansas, with two innings of work. He has allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, on 23 hits and 10 walks while striking out 33 in 35.2 innings of work. He has nearly doubled his 2013 workload when he made 16 appearances and pitched 20.0 innings.
A&M has wheeled out four pitchers who have proven capable of locking down games with Jason Jester (3), AJ Minter (2), Ty Schlottmann (2) and Andrew Vinson (2) all recording multiple saves on the year. As a result, the Aggies are 27-0 when leading after six innings, 26-0 when leading after seven innings and 28-0 when leading after eight innings.
Jester owns the single-season saves record at A&M with the 14 he recorded last year and his 17 career saves rank second in Aggie annals. Minter has recorded the last two saves for the Maroon and White. He entered a bases-loaded, no-outs situation with the Aggies leading 6-5 in the Sunday game at Arkansas and got two strikeouts and a fly out to record his first career save. He followed with a midweek save in A&M’s 3-1 win over Sam Houston State. Vinson recorded road saves at UT Arlington (5-4) and at No. 16 Rice (6-5). Schlottmann bagged back-to-back saves in wins at Mississippi State to nail down 6-3 and 6-4 decisions.
RESULTS TIED TO EARLY INNING FORTUNES
In the first 18 games the Aggies outscored opponents in the first inning of games, 17-0. The Maroon and White went 13-5 over that span. The Aggies also outscored foe 61-11 in the first four innings of games during the stretch.
In games 19-34, the opponents were outscoring the Aggies 15-2 in the first inning of games and 40-32 in the first four innings, resulting in a 7-9 record for A&M during the stretch.
Over the last 23 games, the pendulum has swung back in favor of the Maroon and White with Texas A&M posting a 17-9 scoring margin in the first inning and a 69-33 advantage in the first four innings, resulting in a 14-9 record.
The Aggies are 10-6 in one-run games and 10-7 in games decided by one run or/or extra innings. In their home series against LSU, all three games were decided by one run with the Aggies winning two against the No. 5 Bayou Bengals. The Tigers won the first game, in 10 innings, 5-4. Texas A&M finished off the series with 3-2 and 5-4 wins. Last weekend, the A&M dropped the opening game at Arkansas, 3-2, and won the final in 10 innings, 6-5.
WHO’S IN LEFTFIELD
Texas A&M has had eight different players start in leftfield this season. Jace Statum has got the starting nod 17 times, with the Aggies going 9-8 in the contests. Jonathan Moroney (6-7) has started 13 games in left while JB Moss (9-3) had been called on 12 times. Others to get penciled in the spot are Ryne Birk (4), Cole Lankford (4), GR Hinsley (2), Ronnie Gideon (2) and Patrick McLendon (2).
JESTER CLIMBING AGGIES CAREER SAVES LIST
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).
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 200-strikeout mark. With his two strikeouts Friday against Ole Miss, the junior matched Doug Rau (228 - 1968-70) for 13th place on the Aggie all-time strikeouts list. He needs 19 more strikeouts to crack the Aggie Top 10 and is approaching No. 11 Mark Ross (232 - 1976-79), No. 12 Rick Luecken (230 - 1980-83) and Doug Rau (228 - 1968-70). Casey Fossum owns the school career record with 404 from 1997-99.
After starting the season batting .252 (103-for-408) in the first 13 games, the Aggie offense has revved up the last 43 contests, hitting .297 (448-for-1,508) over the span. A&M’s on-base (.351/.368) and slugging (.343/.397) 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 5.60 in the last 43.
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 .380 (57-for-150) over the last 40 contests. His on-base (.276/.430) and slugging (.200/.507) percentages are also up substantially over the span. On the year, Banks is leading the team with a .349 batting average (61-for-175) and .407 on-base percentage and he has 28 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 25 RBI.
BRATSEN IN ACTIVE PURSUIT
Krey Bratsen enters the weekend ranked second among all active players in the nation in Games Played (239), Stolen Bases (88) and Sacrifice Bunts (51). He trails only Georgia Tech’s Mott Hyde (243) in games played. Bratsen entered the season as the active leader in games played, but was hampered by an illness throughout February. His stolen base mark trails only North Carolina State’s Trea Turner who enters the weekend with 110 steals. The 51 sacrifice bunts are second only to Oregon’s Aaron Payne (54).
NOTTEBROK HEATING UP
Logan Nottebrok has been hot enough to make a bras monkey wink the last five games, going 9-for-20 (.450) with two doubles and three home runs to raise his season batting average from .234 to .272 and his season slugging percentage from . to . . In the Aggies’ 6-5 win at Arkansas in the series finale, Nottebrok hit the deciding home run in the 10th inning starting a streak of three straight SEC games with a home run. Nottebrok started the season by hitting .300 with three home runs and 11 RBI in the first eight games before being forced to play through various ailments.
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 .310 (44-for-42) with 29 runs and 17 RBI in 38 games, including 36 starts. For the year, Allemand is batting .280 (51-for-182) with 35 runs and 22 RBI in 50 games, including 47 starts.
HEATING UP AT THE HOT CORNER
In the nine games that Logan Taylor has missed with an injury, Blake Allemand has moved from third to fill the void at shortstop. In the nine games, Logan Nottebrok and Ronnie Gideon have combined to bat .364 (12-of-33) with three doubles and four home runs, including two game-winners. Nottebrok is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with six runs, two doubles, three home runs and four RBI during the span. He hit home runs in three consecutive SEC games, starting with the game-winning dinger in the 10-inning series finale at Arkansas. Gideon hit the deciding home run in the eighth-inning of the series finale against LSU as the Aggies took the series from the Tigers. Unfortunately for A&M, Allemand is hitting just .135 since moving to short.
The winner of Tuesday’s game will face the Ole Miss in the second game of action on Wednesday. The loser awaits word on an NCAA Division I Championship bid.