COLLEGE STATION -- The 21st-ranked Texas A&M baseball team (9-2) puts an eight-game win streak on the line this weekend as the Aggies host defending Big East champion Rutgers (2-4) in a three-game series at Olsen Field. First pitch on Friday and Saturday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with Sunday's finale set for noon.
A&M is fresh off a mid-week sweep of Nicholls State at Olsen Field, while the Scarlet Knights dropped their home opener to Temple, 9-5, on Wednesday.
The three games this weekend will mark the first-ever meeting between the schools on the baseball diamond.
Fans can catch every pitch 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.
Rutgers SCARLET KNIGHTS (2-4) at #21 Texas A&M AGGIES (9-2)
Friday, March 7 • 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 8 • 6:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 9 • 12 p.m. CT
C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field (7,053) • College Station, Texas
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620
LIVE VIDEO: Aggies All-Access (free)
The normal baseball parking setup will be altered on Saturday due to the 3 p.m. men's basketball game against Kansas at Reed Arena. Please note the changes as indicated below. Fans are also reminded to be prepared to encounter the basketball postgame traffic control for up to one hour after the end of the basketball game. Info on that can be found on Transportation Services' website (listed below).
RESERVED PARKING (FRI-SUN): 100i, 100j, 100k (Olsen)
GENERAL PARKING (FRI & SUN): 100e, 100g (Reed)
GENERAL PARKING (SAT): 100e (Reed), 100d (Tennis)
MEDIA PARKING (PASS REQUIRED): 100i (Olsen)
For more information visit transport.tamu.edu. For media parking info contact A&M Media Relations.
Sunday's series finale with Rutgers 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, kids attending Sunday's game will be able to run the bases following the contest, courtesy of Subway.
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 9-2 and has won eight straight, including a pair of victories over Nicholls State (5-1 and 14-3) this week at Olsen Field.
The Aggies have pounded out double-figure hits in five of the last seven games, including a season-best 15 in Wednesday's win over the Colonels. A&M is also finding its power stroke–after hitting a total of two home runs in the season's first seven games, the Aggies have hit eight in the last four contests.
For the season, Texas A&M is hitting .320 and averaging 7.5 runs per game. The offense has already pounded out 43 extra-base hits (21 doubles, 12 triples and 10 home runs) while stealing 21 bases.
Senior third baseman Dane Carter (.465, 3 HR, 13 RBI) leads the team in 10 offensive categories and enters the weekend on a career-long nine-game hit streak. Five other starters are also hitting above .300 on the year.
On the mound, the Aggies boast a Big 12-best 2.69 ERA. A&M pitching is averaging 9.0 strikeouts per game and is holding opposing hitters to a .218 average. Sophomore Shane Minks (3-0, 2.08 ERA), leads the team and the league in victories, while sophomore Travis Starling (6 appearances, 0.00 ERA) has a team-best three saves. The Aggie bullpen has been very strong over the first two weeks of the year, posting a 4-1 record, 1.67 ERA and .201 opponent average.
A QUICK GLANCE: RUTGERS
Rutgers is 2-4 on the young season, with both wins coming on the road over ranked opponents–at No. 25 Old Dominion and No. 22 Georgia Tech. RU has lost three straight and is coming off a 9-5 home-opener loss to Temple on Wednesday.
The defending Big East champion Scarlet Knights return 19 letterwinners off a 2007 squad that went 42-21 and was knocked out of the NCAA Charlottesville (Va.) Regional by eventual national champion Oregon State.
As a team, Rutgers is hitting .252 on the season with two home runs and 26 RBI. They are averaging five runs per game. On the mound, the pitching staff has a 4.85 ERA and has fanned 42 batters in 52 innings of work.
Junior infielder Tom Edwards (.435, 0 HR, 7 RBI) and freshman first baseman Jaren Matthews (.292, 2 HR, 4 RBI) are the offensive leaders, while the Scarlet Knights' first two starters this weekend–senior Steve Holt (0-0, 1.29 ERA) and sophomore Casey Gaynor (1-1, 2.93 ERA) have been very impressive on the mound.
Rutgers is coached by legendary skipper Fred Hill, who is in his 25th season in Piscataway. He has averaged nearly 33 wins a season at the school, leading the team to 11 NCAA Tournaments. In 32 seasons as a head coach, Hill has amassed 937 career victories.
Rutgers University is located in Piscataway, New Jersey, about 40 miles southwest of New York City, and sports an enrollment of over 35,000 students.
Texas A&M and Rutgers have never met on the baseball diamond.
The Aggies have played only nine total games against any of the 12 current Big East schools that sponsor baseball. A&M is 5-4 in those contests.
NICHOLLS STATE REVIEW
Texas A&M continued its winning ways this week with a pair of victories over Nicholls State at Olsen Field.
In Tuesday night's 5-1 win, sophomore transfer Carson Middleton went 6 innings in his second career start and allowed just four hits and one run. The Aggies pushed all five of their runs across in the first two innings, and third baseman Dane Carter led the offensive attack by going 4-for-4 with a double and RBI.
A&M followed that with a 14-3 win on Wednesday in a game that saw the Aggies score in all but the second inning. Three players hit home runs in the victory--Luke Anders, who set a career high with five RBI on the day; Darby Brown, who tied a career best with three hits; and Carter, who went 3-for-5 with a new career-high four RBI. Shane Minks picked up his third victory in as many appearances, allowing six hits and three runs over six innings of work.
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 DPC 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 recorded at least one double in all 11 games in 2008 and in 17 straight dating back to last season.
The last time the Aggies didn't double at least once was in the NCAA Regional opener against Le Moyne on (June 1, 2007).
The 2005 team doubled in 12 consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 18.
Texas A&M has already hit a whopping 12 triples over the first 11 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 their current pace they would finish the regular season (56 games) with 61.
• 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).
FLIPPING THE POWER SWITCH
The Aggies have hit a Big 12-best 10 home runs on the young season, and most of that power punch has come in the last week.
Over the first seven games, Texas A&M hit a total of two home runs. In the last four, the Aggies have totaled eight--two against Arkansas (March 1) and three against Louisiana Tech (March 2) and Nicholls State (March 5).
TURN, TURN, TURN...TURN
Texas A&M tied a school record with four double plays in Wednesday's win over Nicholls State.
While the feat has been accomplished often, the last time the Aggies did turn four double plays in one game was against Clemson in the NCAA Super Regional championship on June 6, 1999 (499 games ago).
A STRONG PEN
The Texas A&M bullpen has been very impressive in the first two weeks of the season.
A total of 11 Aggies have seen action in relief, posting a combined 1.67 ERA and picking up four wins and three saves. In 43 innings of work, opposing teams have managed just 31 hits (.201 average) and eight earned runs while striking out 47 times.
Of the 17 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 seven 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 28-80 (.350) 19 7-0
POUNDING THE ZONE
Texas A&M pitchers have struck out 97 batters while walking 33 in their 97 innings of work thus far, or a 2.9 K/BB ratio–second 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 staff, which has fanned eight or more batters in all but one game in 2008, is averaging one strikeout per inning of work.
The Aggie baseball team has won 16 straight mid-week non-conference contests, including the first four 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 nine consecutive games, 10 of the Aggies' 11 overall, and has reached base safely (hit or walk) in all 12. In addition, he leads the team in 10 offensive categories: average (.465), runs (11), hits (20), doubles (4), triples (4), home runs (3), RBI (13), total bases (41), slugging percentage (.853) and on-base percentage (.510).
The only game in which Carter 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 three games in 2008.
After struggling with injury during 2007, Dane Carter has already bested his totals from last season through the first few weeks of 2008.
dane carter: 2007 vs 2008
CATEGORY 2007 TOTALS 2008 NUMBERS
games played 37 11
games started 19 11
batting average .203 .465
hits 15 20
runs scored 14 11
doubles 2 4
triples 0 4
home runs 1 3
RBI 11 13
slugging pct. .270 .953
STOUFFER ON TRACK
Senior All-American Blake Stouffer had a tough start to the 2008 campaign, but has quietly climbed near the top of the Aggies' RBI leaderboard.
Stouffer started the year hitless in his first 13 at-bats, a stretch which included multiple line-outs to and diving catches by opposing defenders.
Since his first base hit of the year against McNeese State (Feb. 26), the San Antonio native is hitting .316 (6-for-19) with five runs scored, two doubles and nine RBI.
A LONG TIME COMING
A pair of Aggie pitchers completed the long road back from shoulder injuries this spring to step back on the mound at Olsen Field.
Senior right-hander Blake Rampy tossed 2 innings on Feb. 26 against McNeese State, allowing three hits and one earned run.
While that might not sound like a big deal, it is for Rampy–his last outing prior to last Tuesday was on April 26, 2005, a span of 1,037 days.
Junior Jordan Chambless struck out the only batter he faced in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win over Nicholls State--three days before his 23rd birthday (March 7). It was his first action since Feb. 27, 2007.
WELCOME BACK, BLAKE
Senior right-hander Blake Rampy tossed 2 innings on Feb. 26 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.
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.
The Aggies have won their first three televised games of the year, all on COX Sports Television.
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.
JUST FOR FUN: AGE BREAKDOWN
The 2008 Aggies have more underclassmen (20) than upperclassmen (19), a not uncommon fact in college baseball.
A few Aggie baseball age facts (as of opening day)...
• The average age of a member of the 2008 Aggie baseball team is 20.96 years.
• The youngest player on the team is pitcher Barret Loux (18 years, 10 months, 17 days).
• The oldest player on the team is outfielder Daman Aaron (23 years, 7 months, 18 days).
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.