No. 17 Aggies Face First Road Test At Oklahoma State

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COLLEGE STATION -- No. 17 Texas A&M (16-4, 2-1 Big 12) takes its first road trip of the season when the Aggies open a three-game series at Oklahoma State (13-5, 1-2) on Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater.

First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. while the Sunday finale will begin at 1 p.m.

A&M has won 15 of its last 17 games and enters the weekend off a 12-0 blanking of UT Arlington on Tuesday at Olsen Field.

OSU responded after losing last weekend's series at Baylor by blasting Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a Wednesday doubleheader by scores of 22-8 and 34-1.

The series between the Aggies and Cowboys has been arguably the most fiercely contested in recent years in the Big 12, as the last seven games and 14 of the last 16 overall have been decided by two runs or less.

Fans can listen to the games locally on the flagship home of Texas A&M Athletics, News/Talk 1620 WTAW. Dave South, Scott Clendenin and Chuck Glenewinkel call the action all season long. All broadcasts begin 15 minutes prior to first pitch.

SCOUTING TEXAS A&M

Texas A&M is 16-4 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play, and has won 15 of its last 17 games.

The Aggies have pounded out double-figure hits in nine of the last 13 games and recorded their first shutout of the year on Tuesday against UT Arlington. For the season, Texas A&M is hitting .314 and averaging 7.5 runs per game. The offense has already pounded out 65 extra-base hits (33 doubles, 15 triples and 17 home runs) while stealing 36 bases.

Senior third baseman Dane Carter (.468, 4 HR, 20 RBI) leads the team in nine offensive categories and has hit safely in 18 of the team's 20 games in 2008. Junior shortstop José Duran (.407, 2 HR, 20 RBI) leads the team in RBI and ranks second with six stolen bases. Three other starters (Luke Anders, Kyle Colligan and Brian Ruggiano) are hitting over .300 for the year.

On the mound, the Aggies boast a Big 12-best 2.73 ERA. A&M pitching is averaging 9.00 strikeouts per game and is holding opposing hitters to a .217 average. Sophomore Shane Minks (4-0, 2.53 ERA) leads the team and the league in victories, while sophomore Travis Starling (9 appearances, 1-0, 0.79 ERA) has a team-best five saves. The Aggie bullpen has been strong on the young season, posting a 6-2 record, five saves, 2.19 ERA and .215 opponent average.

A QUICK GLANCE: OKLAHOMA STATE

Oklahoma State has won two straight after a mid-week sweep of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Stillwater and enters the weekend with a 13-5 overall record. The Cowboys are 1-2 in Big 12 play after dropping their league series opener last weekend at Baylor.

OSU returns two starters and 17 letterwinners from a 2007 team that went 42-21 and finished 2nd in the Big 12 at 18-9. The Cowboys, along with Texas A&M, were the only two league teams to advance to NCAA Super Regional play; and, like the Aggies, made their last College World Series appearance in 1999.

Oklahoma State is hitting .342 as a team with 29 home runs and 173 RBI, and averages 10.05 runs per game. The pitching staff sports a 4.13 ERA and has a 2.19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer (.368, 4 HR, 25 RBI; 4.15 ERA, 3 saves) is one of the top two-way players in the Big 12, while first baseman Rebel Riding (.368, 5 HR, 20 RBI) paces the team in home runs.

Sophomore lefty Andrew Oliver (2-0, 1.40 ERA), who will get the ball Friday night, is holding opponents to a .200 average and has fanned 28 batters in 25 innings of work.

Frank Anderson is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Cowboys with an overall record of 168-95.

SERIES HISTORY

It has been a colorful and intense history between the two schools, especially in Big 12 play. Overall, the Cowboys lead, 31-21, and also lead 21-16 since the formation of the league in 1997. Some series notes:

• The last seven meetings and 14 of the last 16 overall have been decided by two runs or less.

• On the Aggies' last trip to Stillwater in 2006, OSU won all three games in the bottom of the ninth inning.

• A&M won the first game last year at Olsen Field, but OSU rallied to take the series by winning the final two games of the weekend (boxscores on page 9).

• All-time in Big 12 play, Texas A&M has won four of the 11 series between the schools.

• In series, OSU leads in Stillwater, 4-1, while the schools are tied 3-3 in College Station. A&M's last series win in Stillwater was in 2002.

• There have been three series sweeps since Big 12 play began...A&M swept the Cowboys in 1999 at Olsen Field, and OSU recorded home sweeps in 2000 and 2006.

• Texas A&M has won the first game of the series with Oklahoma State seven times.

• The Aggies and Cowboys have met twice in NCAA Tournament play–in the 1984 Midwest Regional in Stillwater and three times in the 1987 Mideast Regional in Starkville, Miss.

UT ARLINGTON REVIEW

Texas A&M played its most complete game of the season on Tuesday in a 12-0 shutout of UT Arlington at Olsen Field.

The Aggies pounded out 13 hits and got another great start from Clayton Ehlert, who allowed two hits over six innings of work.

TEXAS TECH REVIEW

Texas A&M opened Big 12 play with a series victory over Texas Tech this past weekend at Olsen Field.

The Aggies used late-inning heroics to win Friday's game, 6-5, in 12 innings. Dane Carter ended the longest Big 12 contest in school history (4 hours, 32 minutes) with a two-out, walk-off shot to right in the 12th. Travis Starling earned the win in relief.

A&M then busted open a 1-1 game on Saturday with 11 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to cruise to a 12-1 victory. Freshman Barret Loux picked up his first career win on the mound.

Tech rebounded to take Sunday's game, 9-3, on the strength of six two-out runs. The Aggies, who were in an 8-0 hole, had chances to pull within striking distance but could not pull any closer than six runs. Scott Migl suffered the loss on the hill.

PLAYIN' LATE TO OPEN BIG 12

Friday's 6-5, 12-inning win over Texas Tech was the longest in quite some time for the Aggie baseball team. The game lasted four hours, 32 minutes and ended at 11:07 p.m. local time.

Some notes on the victory...

• The game was the longest Big 12 game (by time) in school history.

• Overall, it was the longest game Texas A&M has played since a 19-14, 11-inning victory at Houston on March 27, 1993 (4 hours, 34 minutes).

• The 12-inning victory matched a 7-5 loss to Kansas on April 1, 2005, as the longest conference game (by innings) in school history.

• The longest game played by A&M in 2007 was a 10-9, 10-inning win over Rice on March 20 (4 hours, 31 minutes).

• The game was the longest between the Aggies and Red Raiders since Big 12 play began in 1997, and the third to go extra innings. The teams went 10 innings on Feb. 28, 1998 and again on March 1, 2002—both in College Station.

• Dane Carter's walk-off home run was the first by an Aggie since Erik Scheidt’s 10th-inning solo shot against Kansas on May 9, 2003.

THE ROAD AWAITS

Texas A&M embarks on a seven-game road trip this weekend–the Aggies' first, and longest, of the season.

A&M will play its first road contest of the year Friday night at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. Following the series with the Cowboys, the Aggies will head to the Alamo City for a March 25 game with Texas-San Antonio, then battle Kansas three days later in a Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence.

OFF TO A GOOD START

The Aggies won their first Big 12 series of the season by taking the first two games this past weekend against Texas Tech.

It marked the eighth time in the league's 12 seasons that A&M won its first series of the year, and second straight under head coach Rob Childress.

MID-WEEK MAGIC

The Aggie baseball team has won 19 straight mid-week non-conference contests, including the first seven 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.

While his career-best 16-game hit streak was snapped on Sunday against Texas Tech, Carter has hit safely in 18 of the Aggies' 20 contests overall.

Despite not recording a hit on Sunday, Carter did draw a walk and has now reached base safely (hit or walk) in all 20 games of the year.

In addition, he leads the team in 10 offensive categories: average (.468), runs (22), hits (37), triples (5), home runs (4), RBI (20), total bases (63), slugging percentage (.797), on-base percentage (.533) and stolen bases (8).

The only other 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, CONTINUED

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 20

games started 19 20

batting average .203 .468

hits 15 37

runs scored 14 22

doubles 2 4

triples 0 5

home runs 1 4

RBI 11 20

slugging pct. .270 .797

TURNING THE CORNER

Senior DH/1B Darby Brown had a tough start to the 2008 campaign, beginning the year 2-for-23 at the plate (.087 average).

With a mammoth home run off the top of the batter's eye in center field against Nicholls State on March 5, Brown has turned the corner in a big way, hitting .368 over the last 10 contests...

brown's turnaround

CATEGORY FIRST 10 GAMES LAST 10 GAMES

batting average .087 .368

hits-at bats 2-for-23 14-for-38

home runs 0 4

RBI 3 11

slugging pct. .174 .737

runs scored 5 9

DURAN STEPS UP

The Aggies knew entering 2008 that they would have to replace all-conference selection and third-round draft pick Brandon Hicks (.338, 10 HR, 59 RBI) at shortstop.

After a strong battle in the offseason, junior transfer José Duran won the opening-day nod, and has not disappointed. The Fort Worth native is near the top of the A&M offensive charts in nearly every category.

A comparison between Hicks and Duran, through the first 19 games of their respective seasons:

duran vs. hicks (through 20 games)

CATEGORY HICKS-2007 DURAN-2008

batting average .324 .407

hits 22 33

runs scored 26 18

doubles 8 4

triples 0 4

home runs 1 2

RBI 16 20

slugging pct. .485 .630

walks 17 10

stolen bases 13 6

LEGGING IT OUT

Texas A&M has hit 15 triples over the first 20 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 with 42.

• The Aggies set a school record in late February 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 the Feb. 26 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 five triples on the season, just four shy of the single-season school record (9, Brian Thomas, 1993).

FLIPPING THE POWER SWITCH

The Aggies have hit 17 home runs on the young season, and most of that power punch has come recently.

Over the first seven games, Texas A&M hit a total of two home runs, or an average of 0.3 per game. In the last 13, the Aggies have totaled 15–1.2 per contest.

Eight different players have hit home runs in 2008, led by Dane Carter (4) and Darby Brown (4).

TURN, TURN, TURN...TURN

Texas A&M tied a school record with four double plays in the Feb. 27 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 part of the season.

A total of 13 Aggies have seen action in relief, posting a combined 2.19 ERA and picking up six wins and five saves. In 78 innings of work, opposing teams have managed just 60 hits (.215 average) and 19 earned runs while striking out 82 times.

Of the players that have made more than one appearance out of the pen this year, eight are holding opponents to an average of .200 or less in those outings.

POUNDING THE ZONE

Texas A&M pitchers have struck out 181 batters while walking 72 in their 181 innings of work thus far, or a 2.5 K/BB ratio. 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 17 of the 20 games in 2008, is averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings.

It's not just one or two arms that are carrying the strikeout load, however. Seven players have posted 15 or more Ks this spring, led by freshman Brooks Raley with 23.