A&M Hosts Mississippi State for a Weekend Series

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Texas A&M Aggies wrap-up their eight-game homestand hoping to build on the momentum of their last two games, a pair of 4-1 wins over Auburn and Sam Houston State. It’s key weekend for the Aggies (6-6, 4th place) who face teams in the middle of the SEC West pack each of the next three weekend series, including Mississippi State (5-7, 5th place), Arkansas (8-4, t-2nd place) and Alabama (8-4, t-2nd place).

#24 TEXAS A&M AGGIES (21-13, 6-6 SEC) vs #16 MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (27-9, 5-7 SEC)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE - Friday, 6:35 pm • Saturday, 12:35 pm • Sunday, 1:05 pm
TELEVISION - Saturday, Fox SportsSouth
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South, play-by-play)
LIVE AUDIO - aggieathletics.com • radioaggieland.com
LIVE VIDEO - aggieathletics.com on Friday and Sunday (with premium subscription)
LIVE STATS - aggieathletics.com
RANKINGS - A&M - 24th (CB) • Miss State - 16th (NCBWA), 16th (USAT), 21 (BA)
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M Leads 8-6
SERIES STREAK - Mississippi State is on a two-game win streak

• Friday - Daniel Mengden (So., RHP, 2-0, 5.33 ERA) vs Luis Pollorena (Sr., LHP, 5-1, 3.29 ERA)
• Saturday - Rafael Pineda (Jr.., RHP, 2-0, 5.33 ERA) vs Kendall Graveman (Sr., RHP, 4-2, 1.99 ERA)
• Sunday - TBA vs TBA

Mikey Reynolds current streak of reaching base via base hit, walk or hit-by-pitch at least once in 34 consecutive games is the fifth-longest active streak in the nation. Delaware’s Jimmy Yezzo leads the nation with 43 consecutive games, including 12 games in 2012. Charlotte’s Corbin Shive has a 37-game streak, but he has yet to play in 2013 due to injury. Troy’s Logan Pierce has a 36-game streak which includes two games in 2012. Campbell’s Elijah Trail has reached base in 35 consecutive games, all this season. After going hitless but reaching via a walk in the season opener, Reynolds went on a career-long 22-game hit streak. He has hit safely in 30 of 33 games. He is hitting .391 on the season with a .455 on-base percentage, 25 runs, seven doubles, 17 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

In his last 21 games (the Aggies’ last 23 games), Lankford is batting .414 (36-for-87) with 11 multiple-hit games, seven doubles, two triples, one home run and 16 RBI. In the weekend series at No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, he went 6-for-13 with five RBI. In the series finale against Georgia, Lankford came up just a single shy of hitting for the cycle going 3-for-5 with three runs, one double, one triple, one home run and one RBI. In the series finale against No. 6 Ole Miss, Lankford keyed the Aggies comeback, going 2-for-4 with one double and two runs scored. He batted 5-for-11 against South Carolina, including three hits in the series opener. Lankford batted 7-for-14 with two doubles and two RBI in the three-game series against Auburn. He has six three-hit games in his last 21 contests.

Lankford is currently on a 10-game hit streak, the longest of his career. Lankford is batting .450 (18-for-40) with three doubles and five RBI over the span.

With the Aggies’ midweek win over Houston Baptist on March 12, head coach Rob Childress reached the 300-win plateau for his career. Childress owns a 310-166-2 record, all as the skipper of the Aggies. He trails only Mark Johnson (876 - 1985-2005) and Tom Chandler (660 - 1959-84) on A&M’s career win list.

Texas A&M and Mississippi State have met on 14 prior occasions with the Aggies owning an 8-6 advantage in the all-time series. The Aggies swept a two-game series in 1907 and a three-game series in 1912. The teams didn’t meet again until a two-game set in College Station in 1986. The Bulldogs swept that 1986 set, as well as a two-game series in Starkville in 1987. The teams have met four times in the postseason. The Aggies beat the Bulldogs 7-4 at the 1987 NCAA Starkville Regional which was eventually won by Oklahoma State. Mississippi State beat A&M twice in three meetings at the 1998 NCAA College Station Regional which the Bulldogs won en route to a College World Series appearance.

Mississippi State enters the contest with a 27-9 overall record and 5-7 mark in SEC play. After a 17-0 start on the season, the Bulldogs have gone 10-9 in the last 19 games.

The Bulldogs are hitting .293 as a team spearheaded by Hunter Renfroe who is experiencing a titanic campaign with a .411 batting average, 10 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 38 RBI. The rest of the lineup is hitting .281. Adam Frazier and Alex Detz are both hitting over .340. Frazier is batting .342 with 36 runs, 11 doubles, four triples and 16 RBI. Detz is hitting .340 with eight doubles, one triple and 23 RBI.

The Mississippi State pitching staff has been stout this season with a 2.51 ERA, holding opponents to a .207 batting average. Kendall Graveman has been the top starter with a 4-2 record and 1.99 ERA in eight starts. He has two complete-games and a shutout on the year and is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week following his blanking of the Florida Gators last weekend. Ross Mitchell has been stellar in long relief, posting a 6-0 record, 0.98 ERA in 15 appearances. He is holding foe to a .196 batting average over 46.0 innings. Closer Jonathan Holder is 1-0 with nine saves and a 2.41 ERA in 15 appearances.

The Bulldogs have a proud baseball tradition, including eight trips to the College World Series. Mississippi State has earned a bid in the NCAA Championship on 32 occasions, including each of the last two years.

Mississippi State boasts 45 former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is led by 20-year veteran, four-time MLB All-Star and 3000-hit club member Rafael Palmeiro, five-time MLB All-Star Jonathan Papelbon and six-time MLB All-Star and 1989 NL Championship Series MVP Will Clark. Former Bulldog Del Unser is one of only two MLB players (Lee Lacy) to hit three pinch-hit home runs in consecutive at-bats.

After going 0-for-17 in his first six games (the Aggies first eight games), Allemand has batted .311 (28-for-90) with five doubles, one home run and 17 RBI in the last 26 games. The 17 RBI during the span is a team-high. Even when he wasn’t hitting, Allemand was able to get on-base enough to score five runs in the first six games, drawing five walks and getting hit by two pitches for a .292 on-base percentage. His on-base percentage the last 25 games is .423 with 13 walks and four HBP.

First 6 games .000 6- 6 17 5 0 0 .000 5 2 7 .292 2 3-3
Last 21 games .311 26-26 90 16 28 17 .400 13 4 12 .417 4 6-7

After going without a hit in his first 15 games (A&M’s first 24), including four starts, Brandon Wood has caught fire the last 10 games. Since the second game of the Sunday Ole Miss doubleheader, Wood is hitting .371 (13-for-35) with five runs, two doubles and four RBI. He also owns a .425 on-base percentage and .486 slugging percentage over the span. The stretch includes a pair of three-hit games. In the first 24 games of the season, he went 0-for-12, but did manage to post a .333 on-base percentage with five walks and one hit-by-pitch.

First 24 games .000 15- 4 12 4 0 0 .000 5 1 4 .333 1 2-2
Last 6 games .371 10-10 35 5 13 4 .486 3 1 8 .425 2 1-2

Texas A&M is in the midst of its first season in the Southeastern Conference. After 16 seasons in the Big 12 Conference, the Aggies will meet a new set of league mates. This year, A&M will face 10 of 13 possible conference opponents in the regular season, with no series scheduled against Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt this season.

The Aggies are 128-90-3 (.586) against current members of the SEC, including 3-0 vs Alabama, 38-29-1 vs Arkansas, 1-2 vs Auburn, 6-1 vs Florida, 3-0 vs Georgia, 3-1 vs Kentucky, 15-12-1 vs LSU, 6-3 vs Ole Miss, 8-6 vs Mississippi State, 44-32-1 vs Missouri, 0-4 vs South Carolina, 1-0 vs Tennessee. With long-time Big 12 companion Missouri out of the equation, A&M entered 2013 campaign with a 78-52-2 (.595) mark against the old guard. Texas A&M had never faced Auburn, Georgia and Vanderbilt prior to the 2013 campaign.

The Aggies schedule features eight teams in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25 for a total of 20 games. The slate also highlights seven games against three teams in the BA Preseason Top 5 and 13 games against five teams in the BA Preseason Top 10. The Aggies play preseason No. 1 North Carolina and No. 18 Rice at the Astros Foundation College Classic at Minute Maid Park. They have a non-conference road series at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton. They have SEC series at No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 7 South Carolina and No. 3 Arkansas and SEC home series against No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 10 LSU.

The Aggies are 1-1 in extra innings this season. Texas A&M beat Georgia, 2-1, in 10 innings in their Saturday affair at Blue Bell Park and lost their Friday night home game against Auburn, 6-4, in 10 innings.

Fourteen teams on Texas A&M’s 2013 schedule will be coming off NCAA tournament campaigns.

Of the 14 squads who earned a berth in the field of 64 in ‘13, four hosted regionals and Arkansas and South Carolina both advanced to the College World Series in Omaha where the Gamecocks finished as national runner-up to Arizona. Eight of the Aggies’ opponents racked up 40 or more wins.

The Aggies will play a total of 31 games against 2012 NCAA tourney teams this spring.

Kyle Martin, who spent his first three seasons as a stalwart in the bullpen, currently ranks third on A&M’s career list with 86 appearances, tied with Chris Russ (86 - 1998-2001). It will be a harder record to reach as a starter, but he’s chasing Kyle Thebeau’s record of 103 appearances between 2006-09. Estevan Uriegas (2009-12) ranks second with 100 appearances.

With 11 stolen bases on the year, junior OF Krey Bratsen moved into a tie with Steven Truitt (1997-99) for third place on the Aggie career stolen base charts with 63. Jason Tyner owns the school record with 118 from 1996-98. Chuck Knoblauch (1987-89) is next on the list with 83 steals.

Bratsen stole 31 bases as a freshman, the seventh-best season in school history. Last season, Bratsen racked up 21 stolen bases.

The Aggies own a 17-5 record in home games during the 2013 campaign, led by a pitching staff which boasts a 1.98 ERA. Rafael Pineda is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. Daniel Mengden owns a 0.98 ERA and 2-0 mark in four starts on the Olsen Field mound. He has yielded just three earned runs (5 runs) on 21 hits and one walk while striking out 23 over 27.2 innings. Freshman Jason Jester is 2-1 with seven saves at home, working 17.1 innings, allowing one run on 10 hits and three walks while striking out 15. Mikey Reynolds is hitting .373 with 14 runs, 12 RBI and 10 steals in 22 home games. Cole Lankford is hitting .351 with six doubles, three triples, one home run and 15 RBI in 21 home games, including 19 starts. Troy Stein is batting .317 iwth two doubles, two triples, one home run and six RBI in 17 games, including 16 starts at home.

The Aggies are 10-0 in midweek action this season, winning the games by a combined margin of 65-21. The pitching staff owns a 1.70 ERA, holding foes to a .211 batting average. Grayson Long (3-0), Corey Ray (3-0) and Rafael Pineda (1-0) have accounted for all the midweek starts on the mound. Troy Stein (.450), Jonathan Moroney (.391), Mikey Reynolds (.381), Cole Lankford (.345) and Daniel Mengden (.343) are all hitting over .340. Cole Lankford is hitting .345 with two doubles, two triples and nine RBI. Mengden, Reynolds and Mitchell Nau have seven RBI apiece. Troy Stein (.522) and Blake Allemand (.512) both have on-base percentages of .500 or higher.

Texas A&M pitchers have yet to allow an earned run in ninth innings of games this season. In 25.0 innings of ninth inning work, the bullpen has allowed one unearned run on 16 hits and eight walks while striking out 22. Jason Jester leads the way with 13.2 scoreless innings, scattering six hits and three walks while striking out 12. Andrew Vinson worked 5.2 blank frames, scattering four hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Jason Jester has been solid as the Aggies’ closer this season, going a perfect 9-for-10 in save situations. He is 2-1 with nine saves and a 1.73 ERA on the season. He has allowed just five earned runs in 26.0 innings of work over 18 appearances, scattering 15 hits and five walks while striking out 25. He is holding opponents to a .163 batting average.

The Aggies are on pace for a school-record sacrifice bunts. With 42 bunts through 34 games, A&M is on pace for 69 sac bunts for the year. The school record is 55 in 2011. Last year, the Aggies put down 50 sacrifice bunts. Krey Bratsen leads the squad with 13 sacrifice bunts. He had 19 as a freshman and eight as a sophomore. Charlie Curl has added 10 and Blake Allemand has six.

Batters leading off an inning are hitting .335 (84-for-251) with 13 doubles, four triples, three home runs and a .416 on-base percentage. Daniel Mengden has a .667 on-base percentage, going 9-for-16 (.563) with four walks and one hit-by-pitch, one double and two home runs to lead the way. Jace Statum owns a .588 on-base percentage going 4-for-11 (.364) at the plate with six walks in 17 plate appearances. Mikey Reynolds owns a .508 on-base percentage, going 23-for-52 (.442) with five walks and two HBP. Cole Lankford owns a .448 on-base percentage leading off innings, going 11-for-27 (.407) with three doubles, one triple, one walk and one HBP.

Sophomore Daniel Mengden is making his 13th career start, his ninth weekend start and his second “Friday Night” start ... He leads the Aggies with four victories ... The last two weeks he did not figure in the decision despite pitching well ... Last week, he allowed two unearned runs in 7.0 innings against Auburn ... Two weeks ago against No. 13 South Carolina, he allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three over 6.0 innings ... Three weeks ago, he allowed one run on six hits and one walk while striking out two over 5.2 innings in a win at No. 6 Ole Miss ... In his first SEC start, he got no-decision despite holding Georgia to just one run while striking out eight over 8.0 innings ... On the road at No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, he was saddled with a loss despite allowing just two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out six over 6.0 innings ... In his third outing he went a career-long with 8.0 IP against No. 12 Rice and equaled a career-high eight strikeouts ... He also had eight strikeouts in a win against Pepperdine in the second week of the season ... As a freshman, he made four weekday starts going 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 26.2 innings ... He twice pitched 7.0 innings, including an effort at Sam Houston State where he pitched 7.0 scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out four ... In his 10 career starts, he is 7-1 with a 1.34 ERA and50 strikeouts in 67.0 innings.

Rafael Pineda is making his 23rd career start ... This marks the earliest in the rotation he has pitched on a weekend ... His first 20 starts, and 21 overall, were all “Sunday” starts coming at the tail end of series ... After back-to-back starts, against No. 1 North Carolina and No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, in which he didn’t record an out, Pineda was removed from the weekend rotation, but returned for the Auburn series ... He worked his way back into the weekend rotation after two midweek starts in which he did not allow an earned run in 11.1 innings of work ... Against UT Arlington on March 26, he held UT Arlington scoreless over 7.1 innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three ... This past Tuesday he worked 4.0 innings against UTSA, allowing three unearned runs, before being removed from the contest due to a three-hour, 12-minute rain delay ... Last weekend he earned the win in the Sunday game against Auburn, he allowed just one run on six hits and three walks while fanning three over 7.2 innings ... He spent the entire 2012 season as the Aggies’ Sunday starter, amassing a 5-1 record and 2.71 ERA ... For his career at Blue Bell Park, he is 7-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 16 appearances, including 15 starts.

Both the Aggies and their opponents are finding the first inning to be the most fertile frame for scoring runs. Thirty-four of Texas A&M’s 162 runs (21.0%) have come in the first inning. The only other inning with over 20 runs for the Aggies is the fourth inning, with 25. Opponents have scored 24 of their 122 runs (19.7%) in the first inning.

A&M hitters are batting .360 with a .511 slugging percentage in the first inning. Troy Stein leads the way with a .571 batting average (4-for-7 with two doubles) and a .857 slugging percentage. Cole Lankford also owns a .857 slugging percentage, going 6-for-14 (.429) with one double, one triple and one home run. Daniel Mengden is batting .438 (7-for-15) with one triple. Mikey Reynolds has scored nine runs in the first inning, batting 13-for-31 (.419) with two doubles.

The Aggies head to Huntsville on Tuesday for their first road midweek game of the season. Texas A&M and Sam Houston State are slated for a 6:30 pm contest.

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