COLLEGE STATION -- No. 20 Texas A&M (18-6, 3-3 Big 12) concludes its longest road swing of the season this weekend when the Aggies head to Lawrence to face Kansas (18-9, 1-2) in a three-game series.
Friday's first pitch at Hoglund Ballpark has been moved up to 4 p.m., while Saturday's game will start at 2 p.m. and Sunday's finale at 1 p.m.
A&M enters the weekend after a gutty 5-4 win over UTSA on Tuesday night in San Antonio. The Aggies opened league play with a series victory over Texas Tech but dropped two of three last weekend to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
Kansas has won five straight and seven of their last eight, and is in the midst of a stretch that will see the Jayhawks play 15 of their next 18 at home. KU opened Big 12 play in Austin, dropping two of three to Texas, then went 4-2 last week at the Florida Spring Classic in Bradenton.
Fans can listen to every pitch 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.
#20 Texas A&M AGGIES (18-6, 3-3 Big 12) at Kansas JAYHAWKS (18-9, 1-2 Big 12)
Friday, March 28 • 4 p.m. CDT
Saturday, March 29 • 2 p.m. CDT
Sunday, March 30 • 1 p.m. CDT
Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) • Lawrence, Kansas
RADIO: WTAW-AM 1620
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
A&M - #30 Brooks Raley (Fr., LHP, 3-0, 2.89 ERA)
KU - #41 Wally Marciel (So., LHP, 2-3, 6.41 ERA)
A&M - #50 Barret Loux (Fr., RHP, 1-1, 3.76 ERA)
KU - #17 Nick Czyz (Jr., LHP, 1-3, 7.77 ERA)
A&M - TBD
KU - #33 Sam Freeman (Jr., LHP, 4-0, 5.04 ERA)
• Senior 3B Dane Carter has hit safely in 22 of the Aggies' 24 games, and has reached base safely (hit or walk) in all 24.
• Junior SS José Duran has hit safely in a career-best eight straight games, 13 of the last 14 and 19 of 24 overall.
• Senior 1B Darby Brown enters the weekend on an eight-game hit streak, tying a career high.
• Texas A&M has homered in five of the last six games and has tallied double-figure hits in 14 games this year.
• Of A&M's six losses on the season, five have been by two or fewer runs.
SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M is 18-6 overall and tied for fourth in the Big 12 with a 3-3 record.
The Aggies enter the weekend on the heels of a gutty, come-from-behind, 5-4 win at defending Southland Conference champion UTSA on Tuesday.
A&M is hitting .305 and averaging 7.0 runs per game. The offense has pounded out 74 extra-base hits (37 doubles, 15 triples and 22 home runs), including homers in five of the last six games, while stealing 40 bases.
Senior third baseman Dane Carter (.457, 5 HR, 22 RBI) leads the team and the Big 12 in numerous offensive categories and has hit safely in 22 of the team's 24 games in 2008. Junior shortstop José Duran (.392, 2 HR, 22 RBI) ranks second on the team almost every column. Two other starters (Luke Anders and Brian Ruggiano) are hitting over .300 for the year.
On the mound, the Aggies boast a 3.01 ERA, third-best in the Big 12. A&M pitching is averaging 8.6 strikeouts per game and is holding opposing hitters to a .226 average, second best in the conference. Sophomore Shane Minks (4-0, 2.53 ERA) leads the team and the league in victories, while sophomore Travis Starling (11 appearances, 2-0, 0.63 ERA) has a team-best five saves. The Aggie bullpen has been strong on the young season, posting a 7-2 record, five saves, 2.18 ERA and .212 opponent average.
A QUICK GLANCE: KANSAS
Kansas enters the weekend on a five-game win streak and sits at 18-9 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 play. KU swept Chicago State in a mid-week series and defeated Benedictine College Wednesday evening after winning four of six games last week at the Florida Spring Classic in Bradenton.
The Jayhawks return seven starters and 22 letterwinners from a 2007 team that went 28-30 overall and finished ninth in the league at 9-17.
KU is hitting .283 as a team with 20 home runs and 171 RBI, and averages 7.22 runs per game. The pitching staff has a 4.36 ERA and has fanned 187 batters in 233 innings of work.
Senior outfielders John Allman (.367, 2 HR, 23 RBI) and Ryne Price (.313, 6 HR, 34 RBI) pace the Jayhawk offense, while senior Andres Esquibel (2-0, 2.32 ERA) and junior Paul Smyth (1-1, 1.45 ERA, 6 saves) are the team's top pitchers.
Ritch Price is in his sixth season as KU's head coach and sports 191 career wins in Lawrence.
Texas A&M leads the all-time series with the Jayhawks, 37-14, but has lost four of the last six meetings. Some series notes:
• The Aggies won last season's series in dramatic fashion at Olsen Field...after winning the opener and dropping the second game 17-13 in 11 innings, a walk-off single by Darby Brown gave A&M a 10-9 win in the rubber game.
• Eight of the last 15 meetings have been decided by either two runs or less, or have gone extra innings.
• A Kansas series sweep in the Aggies' last trip to Lawrence (2006) marks KU's only series victory over Texas A&M in 11 tries as member of the Big 12.
• A&M won the first 11 meetings between the schools in Big 12 play (1997-00).
• Texas A&M is 22-4 in Big 12 play against Kansas when the Aggies score five or more runs.
• The Aggies have lost four straight at Hoglund Ballpark...A&M's last win there was on April 10, 2004.
• Kansas is the only current member of the Big 12 that Texas A&M has faced in the College World Series...the Aggies opened their trip in 1993 with a 5-1 victory.
Brian Ruggiano’s two-out, two-strike single in the top of the ninth inning drove home the game-winning run as 20th-ranked Texas A&M rallied for a gutty 5-4, come-from-behind victory over UTSA Tuesday night before 1,011 fans at Wolff Stadium.
The Aggies (18-6), who had trailed 3-0 after four, scored two in the fifth and took the lead with a two-run seventh before the Roadrunners (15-9) tied it in the eighth.
Junior reliever Kyle Thebeau entered to start the fourth was outstanding in relief, allowing only an eighth-inning hit in 4 1/3 innings. He was charged with the eighth-inning run and allowed one walk while striking out five.
Ruggiano tied a career high with three hits.
OKLAHOMA STATE REVIEW
After taking the series opener at Oklahoma State last Friday, Texas A&M dropped two close contests to lose the series with the Cowboys at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater.
The Aggies began the weekend with a 5-run first off OSU ace Andrew Oliver and battled their way to a 9-5 victory. Senior Darby Brown and freshman Nick Fleece each drove in three on the night, with Fleece hitting his first career home run. Freshman Brooks Raley was strong in his second career Big 12 start, and he improved to 3-0 with the victory.
A&M took an early 2-0 lead on Saturday courtesy a Brian Ruggiano home run, but the Cowboys came from behind and defeated the Aggies, 3-2. The final run of the game came in the fourth on a two-out RBI single off the bat of OSU's Rebel Ridling. A&M loaded the bases with one out in the ninth but could not push home the tying run. Freshman Barret Loux suffered the loss, allowing five hits and three runs in nearly eight innings of work.
For the third straight game in the series, the Aggies took the initial lead against OSU--this time with a two-run first inning. The Cowboys, however, hit two home runs to take the lead in the middle innings and were able to hold off a late Texas A&M run to take the series with a 6-4 victory. Dane Carter went 2-for-4 with his fifth home run of the year, while sophomore Clayton Ehlert suffered the loss.
The Aggie baseball team has won 20 straight mid-week non-conference contests, including the first eight 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.
ON THE ROAD
Texas A&M is in the midst of a seven-game road trip–the Aggies' first, and longest, of the season.
A&M played its first road contests of the year this past weekend at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater against Oklahoma State and picked up a win over UTSA on Tuesday in San Antonio.
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 March 16 against Texas Tech, Carter has hit safely in 22 of the Aggies' 24 contests overall.
Despite not recording a hit in the game against the Raiders, Carter did draw a walk and has now reached base safely (hit or walk) in all 24 games of the year.
In addition, he leads the team in 10 offensive categories: average (.457), runs (27), hits (42), triples (5), home runs (5), RBI (22), total bases (71), slugging percentage (.772), on-base percentage (.536) and stolen bases (10).
The Graham, Texas native also leads the Big 12 in six of those categories (average, hits, triples, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage).
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.
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 24
games started 19 24
batting average .203 .457
hits 15 42
runs scored 14 27
doubles 2 4
triples 0 5
home runs 1 5
RBI 11 22
slugging pct. .270 .772
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 .347 over the last 13 contests...
CATEGORY FIRST 10 GAMES LAST 14 GAMES
batting average .087 .352
hits-at bats 2-for-23 19-for-54
home runs 0 4
RBI 3 15
slugging pct. .174 .648
runs scored 5 10
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 24 games of their respective seasons:
duran vs. hicks (through 24 games)
CATEGORY HICKS-2007 DURAN-2008
batting average .372 .392
hits 35 38
runs scored 34 20
doubles 11 4
triples 1 4
home runs 1 2
RBI 21 22
slugging pct. .543 .577
walks 17 12
stolen bases 16 6
LEGGING IT OUT
Texas A&M has hit 15 triples over the first 24 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 35.
• 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 22 home runs on the young season, and most of that power punch has come recently.
Over the first 10 games, Texas A&M hit a total of seven home runs, or an average of 0.7 per game. In the last 14, the Aggies have totaled 15–1.1 per contest.
Ten different players have hit home runs in 2008, led by Dane Carter (5) 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 2.18 ERA and picking up seven wins and five saves. In 90 innings of work, opposing teams have managed just 69 hits (.212 average) and 22 earned runs while striking out 96 times.
Rutgers put five earned runs up against the Aggie pen in the 7th inning on March 8. Removing that inning from the numbers, A&M's relief corps would sport a 1.71 ERA.
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 206 batters while walking 84 in their 215 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 18 of the 24 games in 2008, is averaging 8.62 strikeouts per nine innings–second-best in the Big 12.
It's not just one or two arms that are carrying the strikeout load, however. Seven players have posted 18 or more Ks this spring, led by freshmen Brooks Raley (27) and Barret Loux (26).
PLAYIN' LATE TO OPEN BIG 12
Texas A&M's 6-5, 12-inning win over Texas Tech on March 14 (the Aggies' Big 12 opener) 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.
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 then 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 the March 4 win over Nicholls State--three days before his 23rd birthday. It was his first action since Feb. 27, 2007.
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 CBS College Sports (formerly 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.
2008 texas a&m television schedule
DATE OPPONENT NETWORK
March 1 Arkansas (W, 15-7) COX Sports TV
March 2 Louisiana Tech (W, 7-3) COX Sports TV
March 4 Nicholls State (W, 5-1) COX Sports TV
April 13 Oklahoma FOX College Sports
April 27 Missouri FOX Sports Net
May 10 at Nebraska CBS College Sports
May 16 at Texas FOX College Sports
AGGIES ON THE 'NET
For the sixth straight year, 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.
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.
2008 big 12 preseason coaches' poll
TEAM (1st) POINTS '07 FINISH
1. Texas (8) 80 1st
2. Missouri (1) 71 2nd
3. Baylor (1) 65 6th
4. Texas A&M 60 5th
5. Oklahoma State 46 3rd
6. Nebraska 36 4th
7. Kansas State 30 8th
Oklahoma 30 7th
9. Kansas 17 9th
10. Texas Tech 15 10th
2008 PHILLIPS 66 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Texas A&M will be the defending champion at the 12th-annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, scheduled for May 21-25 at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City.
The eight-team championship will be in a two-division, pool play format for the third straight season in 2008. The winner of each bracket will meet in the championship game, with the victor earning the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.
Oklahoma City and AT&T Bricktown Ballpark will be the host of the event through the 2011 season. For ticket information, contact the Oklahoma Redhawks at (405) 218-1000.