COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The top-ranked Aggies look to send March out on a winning note as they host Sam Houston State in a Tuesday evening affair on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. Tuesdayâs game marks the beginning of a string of 27 games in which 21 games will be against teams that played in the 2014 NCAA Championship. Texas A&Mâs offense has rekindled in the last six games, posting three of their highest hit totals of the year and batting .361 over the span.
No. 1 TEXAS A&M AGGIES (27-2, 7-2 SEC) vs. SAM HOUSTON STATE BEARKATS (14-16, 7-5 Southland Conference)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) â¢ College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE - Tuesday – 6:35 pm
RADIO - Sports Radio 1150 The ZoneÂ â¢Â Dave South (play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO - SEC Network+ (WatchESPN credentials required through cable provider) – Will Johnson (play-by-play), Mark Johnson (color analyst)
LIVE AUDIO – 12thMan.comÂ â¢Â radioaggieland.com (free)
LIVE STATS - 12thMan.com
RANKINGS - Texas A&M – 1 (CB), 1 (USAT), 2 (D1B), 2 (BA), 2 (NCBWA); SHSU – unranked
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M leads 87-39-2. The Aggies have won the last game
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
â¢ TUESDAY:Â #23 Turner Larkins (Fr., RHP, 3-1, 2.94 ERA) vs. #33 Sam Odom (So., RHP, 0-3, 4.03 ERA)
The Aggies are 8-0 in midweek action this season, outscoring opponents 54-13. The A&M offense has be highlighted by NICK BANKS, batting .654 (17-for-26) with three doubles and five RBI, and MITCHELL NAU, hitting .476 (10-for-21) with six RBI.
The pitching staff has a 1.34 ERA and the Aggies have 79 strikeouts in 74.0 innings. TURNER LARKINS has started five of the games, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.82 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 24.2 innings. The bullpen is 5-0 with three saves and a 0.97 ERA in midweek action.
1,000 WINS AT OLSEN FIELD
With their win in the Saturday game against Auburn, the Aggies secured their 1,000th win at the friendly confines of Olsen Field. Playing their 38th season at the now-Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, the Maroon and White are 1,004-325-4 (.755) at the corner of George Bush Drive and Olsen Boulevard.
TEXAS A&M/SAM HOUSTON STATE SERIES NOTABLES
With campus 55 miles apart, Sam Houston State represents Texas A&Mâs second-closest Division I rival behind Prairie View A&M (50 miles).
The Aggies and Bobcats have met on 128 occasions with Texas A&M owning a 87-39-2 edge in the all-time series. Since 2011, the series is even at 3-3. The teams faced off at least once every year between 1984-2006. Last season, Sam Houston State won 8-1 in March and the Aggies bounced back with a 3-1 win in May. In the March contest, the Aggies fell behind 4-0 in the second inning and were unable to bounce back. In the May meeting, all four runs were scored in the first three innings, including a two-run single by Jace Statum in the second inning.
MORE ON SAM HOUSTON STATE
The Bearkats are in their first year under head coach Matt Deggs. Sam Houston State is 14-16 overall and 7-5 in the Southland Conference. The Bearkats have series wins over Wichita State, New Orleans and Nicholls. In midweek play, Sam Houston State has two-game splits against Rice and Baylor.
Sam Houston State is hitting .281 as a team, averaging 5.3 runs per game. The Bearkats have four players hitting over .320, including Spence Rahm (.347, eight doubles, five home runs and 27 RBI), Travis Lee (.340, 2 doubles, 12 RBI), Jake MacWilliam (.328, three doubles, one home run, nine RBI) and Dylan Ebbs (.324, three doubles, 12 RBI).
The Bearkats pitching staff owns a 3.27 ERA and holding opponents to a .250 batting average. Tuesdayâs starter Sam Odom is 0-3 with a 4.03 ERA.
The Bearkats have made the NCAA Division I Tournament in nine occasions since making the step up in class from Division II in 1987. Sam Houston State has played in six of the last eight tournaments, including the last three years. The Bearkats appeared in three NCAA Division II Tournaments prior to their promotion.
Sam Houston State boasts 15 former players who have gone on to play Major League Baseball. The group is highlighted by 10-year veteran and 1985 NL All-Star Glenn Wilson. The most recent addition to the list is Matt Langwell who made his debut with the Cleveland Indians in June of 2013 and was later appeared in eight games with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
TUESDAYâS PROBABLE STARTER:Â #23 TURNER LARKINS
Making his eighthth career start… owns a 5.33-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (32 K/6 BB)… bounced back last week after his first career loss with a win at UTSA… scattered two hits and two walks while striking out four in 6.0 innings against the Roadrunners… earned a win in his first career SEC and weekend start, holding Auburn to one run on four hits while striking out seven in 6.1 innings… was fantastic in his first career start, scattering five hits while striking out nine in 5.1 innings against Stephen F Austin… made quick work of Holy Cross in his first career outing, using just nine pitches to dispatch of the Crusaders in the eighth inning of the series finale win… selected on pick before Johnny Manziel in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
LARKINâS CAREER TOTALS
Turner Larkins has the distinction of being selected in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft one spot before Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. The Milwaukee Brewers selected Larkins out of Arlington Martin High School in the 28th round with the 836th overall pick. The San Diego Padres followed by drafting Manziel with the 837th pick.
LISTEN AROUND THE WORLD
A&M fans in Bryan/College Station will find it easier to find baseball broadcasts as every game will air on SportsRadio 1150 The Zone. Free live audio of every pitch of the 2015 season is also available online at 12thMan.com. Fans across the world can listen to Aggie games free of charge on their iPhone, Blackberry and other selected PDAs and cell phones through the Radio Aggieland app. To check availability or to set up your device to listen to Aggie baseball all season long wherever you go, visit radioaggieland.com.
With the departure of Krey Bratsen, the all-time Aggie leader in games played, newcomer BLAKE KOPETSKY takes over the role of the local boy. Kopetsky was a standout at Rudder High School in Bryan, earning three letters. He was tabbed an All-Texas 4A Third Team outfielder by the Texas SportsWriters Association as a senior in 2012. The last two years he played at Temple Junior College and returned home in the summers to star for the Brazos Valley Bombers.
Other recent players to hail from Bryan or College Station include Bratsen (2011-14), Luke Anders (2006-09), Nick Anders (2009), Kyle Nicholson (2004-07) and Keith Stein (2005-06).
Kopetsky has appeared in 16 games at the plate, including 13 starts. Heâs batting .275 (11-for-40) with seven runs, one double, one triple, 11 walks, four RBI and three stolen bases. Kopetsky has reached base via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 13 of his 16 games and he boasts a .431 on-base percentage. In Texas A&Mâs 4-3 win against UTPA, Kopetsky tied a school record with five walks.
He has made three appearances on the mound, retiring eight of the nine batters he has faced in 2.2 innings, including five strikeouts.
Blake Allemand enters the season as the most senior of veterans on the squad. Heading into Tuesdayâs game, Allemand has played in 196 games. With four more games, Allemand would become just the 17th Aggie to appear in 200 games. Five Aggies have appeared in 200 games in the 21st century, including school record holder Krey Bratsen (245 – 2011-014), Kevin Gonzalez (236 – 2008-11), Brodie Green (228 – 2007-10), Kyle Colligan (218 – 2006-09) and Brandon Wood (204 – 2010-13).
For his career, Allemand is hitting .283 (192-for-678) with 18 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 85 RBI and 29 stolen bases. He has made 190 career starts, including 47 in 2012, 61 in 2013 and 53 in 2014.
BANKS EARNS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA
NICK BANKS picked up a pair of Preseason All-America honors. The sophomore outfielder was named to the Perfect Gameâs 2015 Preseason College All-America Second Team and D1Baseball.com Preseason All-America Second Team.
As a freshman, Banks batted .327 with 29 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 26 RBI and seven stolen bases. In 30 SEC contests, Banks ranked fourth in the league with a .360 batting average, going 41-for-114 with seven doubles, one triple, one home run, 15 runs and 16 RBI.
Following his successful rookie campaign, Banks earned Freshman All-America recognition from National Collegiate Baseball Writersâ Association and Collegiate Baseball. He was named All-SEC Second Team as well as earning a place on the SEC All-Freshman squad. Banks and Floridaâs Logan Shore were the only two freshmen to earn All-SEC status in 2014.
Banks is living up to the hype in 2015, batting .429 (45-for-105) with 26 runs, six doubles, two triples, two home runs, 19 RBI and five stolen bases. He has reached base via walk, hit or HBP in all 28 of his games, sporting a .492 on-base percentage.
CALL ON ME
Coach Childress has four pitchers on staff who he has called on 50 or more times in their career, including JASON FREEMAN, ANDREW VINSON, A.J. MINTER and MATT KENT.
Freeman leads all active Aggies with his 63 games which includes 60 relief appearances. The 63 games ranks 12th on A&Mâs all-time list. For his career, the right-hander is 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 75.2 innings. Vinson ranks 15th place on A&Mâs all-time list with 62 appearances, all out of the bullpen. Vinson is 7-3 with a 2.59 ERA, two saves and 66 strikeouts (21 BB) in 73.0 innings. Kent counts 13 starts among his 53 games. The southpaw is 11-4 with a 3.31 ERA and 90 strikeouts (13 BB) in 127.2 innings. Minter is 5-0 with a 2.01 ERA, two saves and 69 strikeouts (25 BB) in 58.1 innings in 56 appearances, 52 in relief.
In the Aggiesâ 3-2 win against Baylor, A&Mâs bullpen had a string of stranding 18 consecutive inherited runners snapped. The Aggie relievers have still been rather salty on the season, allowing just 14 of 57 inherited runners to score. TY SCHLOTTMANN has been the most tested out of the bullpen and he has been up to the task, stranding 15 of his 18 inherited runners. ANDREW VINSON has left 10 of the 14 ducks he inherited on the pound. KYLE SIMONDS has stranded five of the six runners he has inherited and JASON FREEMAN has stranded all four inherited runners. Against Prairie View A&M, Aggie relievers entered the game with seven baserunners, including bases loaded on two occasions, and they didnât yield a run.
The Aggie bullpen has been tested more frequently as the season has progressed and are stepping up to the challenge. Thirteen pitchers have combined to work 107.0 innings out of the bullpen, posting a 10-1 record, nine saves, a 1.60 ERA, 77 hits and 32 walks while striking out 99. The bullpen sports a WHIP of 1.02, opponent batting average of .204 and a 3.09-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At the Houston College Classic, the bullpen allowed just one hit in 7.2 innings of scoreless relief.
SEEMS LIKE JUST LAST YEAR
Texas A&M is averaging 2.6 more runs per game and sporting a batting average .040 higher than the same point last season. Hereâs a comparison of the Aggies offensive numbers through 29 games in 2014 and 2015.
|Runs Per Game
â¢ On March 7, NICK BANKS had a career-long 13-game hit streak snapped. The sophomore batted .438 (21-for-48) with four doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI over the span. Banks has logged hits in 26 of the 28 games heâs played this season.
â¢ NICK BANKS has reached base (via walk, HBP or hit) in all 28 game heâs played in 2015. He owns a .492 on-base percentage with 45 hits, 12 walks and two HBP over the span.
â¢ NICK BANKS enters the game on a six-game hit streak. He is batting .500 (11-for-22) over the span with seven runs, two doubles, one home run and three RBI over the span.
â¢ HUNTER MELTON has reached base in each of the last 13 games. He is batting .333 (15-for-45) over the span with 13 runs, four doubles, one home run and 11 RBI. He also has 10 walks and one HBP during the stretch for a .464 on-base percentage.
â¢ RONNIE GIDEON enters the series with a eight-game hit streak. He is batting .484 (15-for-31) over the span with three doubles, one home run and eight RBI.
â¢ LOGAN TAYLOR enters the series with a six-game hit streak. He is batting .476 (10-for-21) over the span with one home run and nine RBI. He has a .522 on-base percentage during the stretch.
â¢ MITCHELL NAU enters the series with a six-game hit streak. He is batting .379 (11-for-29) over the span with one home run and 11 RBI.
â¢ KYLE SIMONDS has a streak of 25.2 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run, covering nine outings. He has allowed three unearned runs, scattering 14 hits and 10 walks while striking out 19 over the span.
â¢ RYAN HENDRIX has not allowed an earned run in nine outings in 2015, covering 11.1 innings. He has allowed one unearned run on nine hits and four walks while striking out 10 over the span.
â¢ ANDREW VINSON is unscored upon in 14 outings in 2015, covering 16.1 innings. Heâs scattered seven hits while striking out 12 over the span.
â¢ MATT KENT was the first Aggie pitcher since Brooks Raley in 2008 to register a win in each of his first five starts in a season.
â¢ The Aggies have scored 10 or more runs in five of their last 10 games.
â¢ The Aggies are on a 13-game win streak in midweek games. The string includes five games at the end of 2014, including wins over then-No. 16 Rice and then-No. 25 Sam Houston State.
â¢ Prior to the ninth inning at UTSA, the Aggie bullpen strung together 34.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. The relievers held opponents to 18 hits and 14 walks while striking out 35 over the span.
A FRIDAY NIGHT FIX
One of the things that doomed the Aggies in 2014 was an inability to win the opening game of the weekend. Last year, A&M struggled the first night of series, going 3-11 in openers (3-13 if you count the SEC Tournament and NCAA Houston Regional). This season, the Maroon and White have already exceeded the opening night win tally with a 7-0 mark. On Friday nights, the Aggies are batting .293 and they have hit 11 of their 26 home runs. The pitching staff owns a 1.43 ERA and is holding opponents to a .186 batting average in series/tournament openers. Last year, A&M hit .227 in their series openers, averaging just 3.21 runs per game. The pitching staff posted a 3.62 ERA and yielded a .249 batting average to foes.
The Aggies are outscoring opponents a combined 64-16 in the first two innings of games, including 35-13 in first innings and 29-3 in second innings.
In the first inning of games, the Aggies are batting .341 (42-for-123) with a .450 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage. The Maroon and White have drawn 24 walks and have been hit by two pitches. The extra-base hits include 10 doubles, one triple and one home run.
In the first inning of games, the A&M pitching staff has held opponents to a .243 batting average (27-for-111) and have struck out 33 of the 122 batters theyâve faced (27.0%).
In the second inning of games, the Aggies are batting .307 (35-for-114) with a .404 on-base percentage and .553 slugging percentage. The Maroon and White have drawn 15 walks and have been hit by five pitches. The extra-base hits include five doubles, one triple and seven home runs.
In the second inning of games, the A&M pitching staff has held opponents to a .227 batting average (25-for-110) and have struck out 32 of the 116 batters theyâve faced (27.6%).
The Aggie pitching staff has yet to yielded just five earned run in the ninth inning or extra innings, a body of work that includes 30.0 innings and all five of the earned runs have come with Texas A&M leading by four or more runs.
The bullpen, which has yielded just four runs, three unearned, in the ninth inning and extra frames, has allowed just 19 hits and 14 walks in the 29.2 innings, with 33 strikeouts. MARK ECKER has accounted for 10.0 innings, yielding only two hits and three walk while striking out 12. RYAN HENDRIX has worked 9.0 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, scattering eight hits and three walks while striking out nine.
Texas A&M has outscored opponents 72-25 combined in innings 7-9 plus extra innings, including 30-8 in the seventh inning and 38-11 in the eighth inning. Opponents are outscoring the Aggies 6-3 in the ninth inning, but A&M has batted in the ninth just seven times while the foe has gotten their ninth-inning hacks in 28 of the 29 games. Texas A&M is outscoring opponents 1-0 in extra innings.
The Aggies bounced back in grand fashion after each of their two losses, toppling UTSA 11-1 and besting Missouri 14-6. Two games marked the two highest hit totals on the season, including 19 against UTSA and 17 against Missouri. The Aggies hit a combined .414 (36-for-87) and averaged 12.5 runs per game in the two contests. NICK BANKS hit .833 (5-for-6) with four runs, one RBI and one stolen base in the two games. LOGAN TAYLOR batted .667 (4-for-6) with three runs, one home run and six RBI.
The Aggiesâ weekend rotation had their only misstep of the season at Alabama, logging just 10.2 innings and posting a 6.75 ERA and .302 batting average. In the other six weekends, the starting rotation worked over 15 innings and registered an ERA of under 3.00.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â STARTING PITCHER COMBINED STATISTICS
|Houston College Classic
Aggie starting pitchers have been solid in 2015, posting a 17-1 record with a 2.21 ERA after 29 games. A&M starters are holding opponents to a .238 batting and boast a 4.00-to-1 strikeouts-to-walk ratio (164/41). After a rough outing his first time out, GRAYSON LONG has regrouped in his last six starts. Over the span, he is 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 36.0 innings of work. He has allowed just eight runs, six earned, on 24 hits and 10 walks while striking out 45 during the stretch. Matt Kent is 6-0 with a 2.78 ERA, allowing 17 runs, 14 earned, in 45.1 innings of work. The junior lefty boasts four of A&Mâs five longest starts. He has issued just three walks on the season, while striking out 37. Out for the remainder of the season, AJ Minter (2-0) was a star the first four weeks, posting a 0.43 ERA, has held opponents to a .213 batting average and has allowed just six runs, one earned, while striking out 29 in 21.0 innings over his first four starts.
The Aggies already have 26 home runs on the season. Last year, A&M hit just 25 home runs on the year. The Aggies had just nine home runs at this point in the season in 2014. A&M has hit 11 of their 26 home runs on Friday nights. On Sunday, Logan Taylor hit a grand slam, the Aggiesâ second salami of the season.
MEN IN BLACK
The Aggies have a new black uniform in their wardrobe for the 2015 season. The squad is only permitted to wear the jerseys for games in which they are trying to complete a series sweep. They have had the opportunity to don the black unis on seven occasions this season, going 6-1. The uniforms have been especially friendly to the pitching staff that owns a 1.97 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 64.0 innings of work in the look.
Starting with the three-game series at Alabama, 24 of Texas A&Mâs last 34 games will be against teams that advanced to the 2014 NCAA Championship. The gauntlet includes seven SEC weekend series against NCAA tournament teams, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina, two games against Sam Houston State and one game against Rice. The Aggies are currently 5-2 in the stretch.
Coach Childress has the potential to pencil in a lineup that can include eight players with 18 to 25 RBI. MITCHELL NAU leads the squad with 25 RBI followed by LOGAN TAYLOR with 24. RONNIE GIDEON and HUNTER MELTON each have 21 ribbies and BLAKE ALLEMAND has 20 RBI. NICK BANKS has driving in 19 runs followed by RYNE BIRK and JB MOSS with 18 apiece.
The Aggies hit the road for a three-game series at Kentucky starting Thursday. Game times are 6 pm on Thursday and Friday and 12 pm on Saturday. All three games are slated for the SEC Network.
Story courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics