COLLEGE STATION--The 21st-ranked Texas A&M baseball team (7-2), fresh off an unbeaten week and the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic title, hosts Nicholls State (1-7) in a two-game series this week at Olsen Field.
The Aggies and Colonels will face off for the first time since 1996 on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. The series concludes Wednesday at 3 p.m.
COX Sports Television will broadcast Tuesday night's game live from Olsen Field. Will Johnson (play-by-play) and Alan Cannon (commentary) will call the action.
Fans can listen to all the action on the home of Aggie Baseball and the flagship station of Texas A&M Athletics, News/Talk 1620 WTAW. Dave South, Scott Clendenin and Chuck Glenewinkel will call the action. All broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to first pitch.
Nicholls State COLONELS (1-7) at #21 Texas A&M Aggies (7-2)
Tuesday, March 4 • 6:30 p.m. CT
Wednesday, March 5 • 3 p.m. CT
C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field (7,053) • College Station, Texas
TELEVISION (TUE): COX Sports TV
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620
LIVE VIDEO (WED): Aggies All-Access (free)
Both games with the Colonels will fall under the new "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" ticket promotion.
At every Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday Aggie baseball game through the month of April, kids 12 and under will receive free admission with a paid adult. There is a limit of four kids per adult and all seats are general admission.
In addition, those attending Wednesday's game can get two slices of pizza and a drink for $5 as part of the new "Dinner at the Diamond" promotion.
Throughout the season, fans can also take advantage of the "Pick Six for $50" ticket special. For more information contact the Athletic Ticket Office at 888-99-AGGIE or online at aggieathletics.com.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M enters the week at 7-2 and has won six in a row, including a weekend sweep to capture the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic title.
The Aggies pounded out double-figure hits in four of five games last week, which included a mid-week sweep of McNeese State (8-3 and 8-4) and wins over Ohio State (8-5), Arkansas (15-7) and Louisiana Tech (7-4). For the season, A&M is hitting at a .314 clip and averaging seven runs per game. The offense has already pounded out 35 extra-base hits (16 doubles, 12 triples and seven home runs) while stealing 17 bases.
Shortstop José Duran (.412, 1 HR, 7 RBI) and catcher Brian Ruggiano (.387, 1 HR, 7 RBI) pace the offensive attack, while third baseman Dane Carter (.328, 2 HR, 8 RBI) is riding a seven-game hit streak and is slugging at an .853 clip.
On the mound, the Aggies boast a 2.96 ERA. A&M pitching is averaging 9.4 strikeouts a game and is holding opposing hitters to a .225 average. Sophomore Shane Minks, who will start Wednesday's game, leads the team in victories (2-0, 1.29 ERA). The Aggie bullpen has been strong over the first two weeks of the year, posting a 4-1 record, 1.91 ERA and .212 opponent average.
A QUICK GLANCE: NICHOLLS STATE
Nicholls State heads to College Station with an overall record of 1-7 after losing two of three at home this past weekend to Murray State.
Located in Thibodaux, Louisiana, about an hour southwest of New Orleans, Nicholls State competes in the Southland Conference and sports an enrollment of just over 6,800 students.
Friday night's 3-2 win was the first of the season for the Colonels, who were swept in the first series of the year by Louisiana-Monroe and lost games last week at Louisiana College and to the University of New Orleans.
As a team, Nicholls is hitting .234 on the season with one home run and 24 RBI. They are averaging three runs per game. On the mound, the pitching staff has a 6.00 ERA and has fanned 68 batters in 72 innings of work.
Sophomore infielder Keith Kulbeth (.313, 1 HR, 6 RBI) leads the way offensively, while senior Lance Dupuis (0-1, 0.00 ERA) has not allowed an earned run in 10 innings of work and is holding opponents to a .195 average.
NSU finished last season at 10-45 and 6-24 and was picked to finish sixth in the SLC's Eastern Division again in 2008.
Texas A&M leads the all-time series with Nicholls State, 3-0. The teams have not met since 1996, when the Aggies swept the Colonels in a three-game series at Olsen Field.
A&M scored 43 runs in the series, although the middle game–a seven-inning front-end of a doubleheader–was a 14-13 final. The Aggies hit seven home runs during the series, and picking up the wins on the mound were Matt Blank, Tim Clarkson and Dean Mitchell.
DOMINO'S CLASSIC REVIEW
Texas A&M won the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic championship this past weekend at Olsen Field with wins over Ohio State (8-5), Arkansas (15-7) and Louisiana Tech (7-4).
The tournament championship was A&M's 12th in the 16-year history of the event, and the undefeated run marked just the second time the Aggies won every game in the tournament (1989).
Two of this weekend's victories–Ohio State and Arkansas–were of the come-from-behind variety.
As a team, A&M hit at a .353 clip, smashing four doubles, four triples and five home runs while scoring 30 runs. The Aggie pitching staff allowed 27 hits in 27 innings of work, struck out 25 and held opponents to a .248 batting average.
DURAN NAMED MVP
Junior shortstop José Duran’s took home the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic Most Valuable Player award this weekend.
The junior finished the weekend hitting .538 with seven hits and four runs scored, along with a home run and a pair of RBI.
Duran not only stood out at the plate but in the field as well, as he was perfect in 13 chances during the three games. Included in those chances was a diving catch in foul territory against Louisiana Tech and multiple flashy defensive plays at shortstop.
FIVE AGGIES EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS
Shortstop José Duran, first baseman Luke Anders, center fielder Kyle Colligan, and pitchers Travis Starling and Kyle Thebeau earned Domino's Pizza Classic all-tournament honors after the Aggies' 3-0 weekend.
Duran hit .538 (7-13) with a home run, 2 RBI and four runs scored while swiping two bases and was named the Most Valuable Player.
Anders, a junior from College Station, hit .625 (5-8) while driving in three. He was walked four times, hit twice and scored five runs.
Colligan, a junior from Houston, hit .462 (6-13) and also scored five runs to go along with a double, home run and 3 RBI.
Thebeau got the win in Friday night's game against Ohio State. With the Aggies down 5-1, the junior from Corpus Christi came out of the pen and tossed six shutout innings. He allowed five hits while walking one and fanning five.
Starling picked up a pair of saves, closing out the Ohio State and Louisiana Tech victories. He faced eight batters–retiring all of them–while not allowing a baserunner and fanning three.
Texas A&M has already hit a whopping 12 triples over the first nine games of the season. A closer look at this accomplishment:
• Last season's team hit 20 triples in 67 games. If the '08 Aggies were to keep up this torrid pace they would finish the regular season (56 games) with 75.
• The Aggies set a school record last week with three triples in each of three consecutive games (McNeese State, Ohio State, Arkansas). What makes this feat even more impressive is that the last time a Texas A&M team had three triples in ANY game before last week was on April 11, 1999, when the Aggies defeated Kansas State 7-2 in St. Joseph, Mo.–a stretch of 519 games.
• Senior third baseman Dane Carter had two triples in last Tuesday's win over McNeese State, the first time an Aggie had two triples in one game since Chad Hudson on May 21, 1999 in a 10-3 win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.
• Carter has four triples on the season, just five shy of the single-season school record (9, Brian Thomas, 1993).
A STRONG PEN
The Texas A&M bullpen has been very impressive in the first two weeks of the season.
Eight Aggies have seen action in relief, posting a combined 1.91 ERA and picking up four wins and a save. In 37 innings of work, opposing teams have managed just 29 hits (.212 average) and eight earned runs while striking out 41 times.
Of the 15 runners the bullpen has inherited, only one has scored.
STEPPIN' UP IN THE CLUTCH
Two of the numbers that, when high, usually lead to success are hits with runners in scoring position and two-out RBI.
Over the last five games, the Aggies have seen their numbers in these categories improve substantially from the opening series with Northern Colorado...
numbers in the clutch
GAMES RISP HITS 2-OUT RBI RECORD
first four 7-37 (.189) 3 2-2
last five 18-53 (.340) 14 5-0
POUNDING THE ZONE
Texas A&M pitchers have struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in their 79 innings of work thus far, or a 3.1 K/BB ratio–best in the Big 12.
In 2007, A&M's pitching corps posted a 2.1 K/BB mark for the full season.
The Aggie baseball team has won 14 straight mid-week non-conference contests, including the first two on the slate in 2008.
A&M won all 10 mid-week games last season and the final two of the 2006 campaign. The Aggies' last loss in mid-week action was on April 18, 2006, a 9-6 setback to No. 19 Houston at Olsen Field.
CARTER ON A TEAR
Senior third baseman Dane Carter has started the 2008 season on a hot streak at the plate.
He has hit safely in a career-high seven consecutive games and eight of the Aggies' nine overall, and has reached base safely (hit or walk) in all nine. In addition, he leads the team in triples (4), extra-base hits (8) and slugging percentage (.853).
The only game he did not record a hit was the first game of the doubleheader against Northern Colorado on Feb. 23, although he did walk and score a run.
Carter has scored a run in all but two games in 2008--the second game of the Feb. 23 doubleheader against Northern Colorado and Saturday's win over Arkansas. He also has driven in a run in six of the last seven games.
WELCOME BACK, BLAKE
Senior right-hander Blake Rampy tossed 2 1/3 innings on Tuesday night against McNeese State, allowing three hits and one earned run.
While that might not sound like a big deal, it is for Rampy, who missed the last two seasons battling back from a shoulder injury.
His last outing prior to last Tuesday was on April 26, 2005, a span of 1,037 days.
TEXAS A&M: AN OVERVIEW
Texas A&M returns six starters and 13 pitchers from a 2007 squad that went 48-19, won the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round.
Last year's Aggie squad made the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I baseball, winning 23 more games than they had in 2006 (25-30-1). The Big 12 tournament championship was the first in school history and the third Big 12 title overall, while the NCAA College Station Regional crown marked the fourth regional championship for the Aggies.
A&M brings back six position starters, including senior 1B Darby Brown (.322, 1 HR, 27 RBI) and junior All-Big 12 DH/1B Luke Anders (.336, 11 HR, 46 RBI). All four players who started a game at third base return, although two–Brian Ruggiano (.255, 1 HR, 14 RBI) and All-American Blake Stouffer (.398, 12 HR, 85 RBI)–have switched positions to catcher and second base, respectively.
The Aggies return the entire outfield, which includes senior LF Ben Feltner (.303, 24 RBI, 34 SB) and junior CF Kyle Colligan (.284, 10 HR, 37 RBI). Eight different players started in right field last year, and all return in 2008.
A&M will have to fill both middle infield positions, with the departure of 2B Parker Dalton and SS Brandon Hicks, as well as the catcher spot after Craig and Josh Stinson finished their careers.
In addition, the Aggies will have to replace 32 of their 48 victories from 2007 on the mound, and they will look to rely on the 13 pitchers returning from last year's roster as well as a talented crop of newcomers to do so.
Heading the returnees are senior LHP Kirkland Rivers (2-3, 5.21 ERA), junior RHP Kyle Thebeau (3-6, 4.67, 6 SV), and sophomore RHPs Scott Migl (7-3, 3.77), Travis Starling (1-0, 1.33) and Clayton Ehlert (1-1, 4.70).
A&M will play its first 20 games at Olsen Field, where it posted a 34-8 record last season and averaged 7.9 runs per game. The Aggies' first scheduled road game is March 21 at Oklahoma State.
Texas A&M is led by head coach Rob Childress, who is in his third season in Aggieland with an overall and career record of 80-51-1.
AGGIES ON THE TUBE
No stranger to national exposure, the Texas A&M baseball team will appear on television at least seven times in 2008.
Tuesday night's game with Nicholls State will air on COX Sports Television. CST games air in most of Louisiana, parts of Texas, and Florida, Northwest Arkansas, central Georgia and northern Virginia.
FOX College Sports, available on digital cable outlets across the country, will broadcast the April 13 series finale with Oklahoma and the May 16 series opener at Texas.
In addition, FOX Sports Net will broadcast the April 27 series finale against Missouri live from Olsen Field and CSTV will air the May 10 game between A&M and Nebraska in Lincoln.
As always, fans can get complete and up-to-date television broadcast information on aggieathletics.com.
AGGIES ON THE 'NET
For the sixth straight season, AggieAthletics.com will bring fans around the globe live video of Texas A&M baseball.
Fans will be able to watch, free of charge, all non-televised Aggie home games, along with selected road games, through the new Aggies All-Access.
If live video of an A&M game is not available, free live audio will be provided through All-Access.
The highly-popular Aggies All-Access is in its second season of bringing live game action, television shows, highlights and much more to A&M fans around the world. Aggies All-Access is the most-watched channel on the CSTV.com network.
"PICK SIX for $50" TICKET PACK
Texas A&M baseball fans can now take advantage of the new "Pick Six for $50" ticket package, available through the Athletic Ticket Office.
For $50, fans will receive a ticket to six home games of their choice, with the exception of the Texas series (May 19 & 20), in reserved seat sections 219 or 220.
For more information on the "Pick Six for $50" ticket page, fans can call the Athletic Ticket Office at 1-888-99-AGGIE or log on to aggieathletics.com.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME TICKET PROMOTION
Families with children 12 and under are encouraged to take advantage of the new “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ticket promotion in place for the 2008 Texas A&M baseball season.
At every Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday Aggie baseball game from now through the month of April, kids 12 and under will receive free admission with a paid adult. There is a limit of four kids per adult and all seats are general admission.
For more information or for tickets to any Aggie baseball game, fans can contact the Athletic Ticket Office at (979) 845-2311 or 1-888-99-AGGIE.
AGGIES PEGGED FOURTH IN BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Texas A&M was picked to finish fourth in the 2008 Big 12 baseball race according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.
Defending regular-season champion Texas (80 points) was pegged the league favorite for the seventh straight year and received eight of the possible 10 first-place votes. The Longhorns edged out second-place Missouri, which earned 71 points, including one first-place tally. Baylor, who also claimed a first-place vote, was ranked third followed by A&M, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Filling the remaining spots in the preseason poll were Kansas State, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Tech.