Aggies Go For Ninth Straight Blue Bell Park Win vs UTA

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The Texas A&M Aggies look to extend an eight-game home win streak as they host the UT Arlington Mavericks in a Tuesday evening game on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. In addition to their hot play at home, the Aggies are also on an impressive string overall, winning seven of their last eight games, including five of six to begin SEC play. Most recently, A&M won a road series at Ole Miss, bouncing back from a Friday evening loss (8-2) to sweep a doubleheader on Sunday, 2-1 and 10-6.


This marks the 33rd meeting between Texas A&M and UT Arlington with the Aggies owning a 24-8 advantage. The Mavericks won the most recent meeting, 3-2, last season, but A&M is 7-2 against UTA under Coach Childress. The Aggies are 20-3 against UT Arlington in games played in College Station.

UT Arlington is looking to gain traction in 2013. With a 12-11 mark on the year, the Mavericks’ longest win streak on the season is three games on two occasions and their longest losing skid is just three games on one occasion. UTA enters the fray on a two-game win streak, winning two of three at UTSA. Offensively, Matt Shortall leads the squad with a .390 batting average with eight doubles, two triples, two home runs and 25 RBI in 20 games. Ryan Walker, Brandon Lawrence and Justin Copeland are all hitting above .340. Walker hits .356 with 16 runs and 15 RBI in 23 games. Lawrence is hitting .345 with eight runs and eight RBI in 19 games, including 15 starts. Copeland is hitting .341 with 14 runs, four doubles and 15 RBI in 23 games.

Last season, UTA advanced to the NCAA Championship after winning the Southland Conference Tournament. The Mavericks also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1990, 1992, 2001 and 2006.

UT Arlington boasts nine former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is headlined by two-time MLB All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence and 2007 MLB All-Star pitcher and 128-game winner John Lackey.

The Aggies are 7-0 in midweek action this season, winning the games by a combined margin of 43-15. The pitching staff owns a 2.14 ERA, holding foes to a .203 batting average. Grayson Long (3-0) and Corey Ray (2-0) have started all seven of the games. Troy Stein is hitting .556 (5-for-9). Jonathan Moroney (.412) and Mikey Reynolds (.400) are both hitting .400 or better. Daniel Mengden, Mitchell Nau and Cole Lankford have six RBI apiece.

The Aggies own a 13-3 record in home games during the 2013 campaign, led by a pitching staff which boasts a 1.80 ERA. Grayson Long leads the way with a 3-0 record and 1.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Daniel Mengden owns a 1.31 ERA and 2-0 mark in three starts on the Olsen Field mound. He has yielded just three runs on 14 hits and one walk while striking out 18 over 20.2 innings. Freshman Jason Jester is 2-0 with five saves at home, working 13.0 shutout innings, scattering seven hits and two walks while striking out 11. Mikey Reynolds is hitting .413 with 10 runs, nine RBI and nine steals in 16 home games. Mengden is batting .327 with nine runs, one double, one triple, one home run and eight RBI in 14 games.

After going 0-for-17 in his first six games (the Aggies first eight games), Allemand has batted .304 (17-for-56) with four doubles, one home run and 13 RBI in the last last 17 games. 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 17 games is .426 with eight walks and four HBP.

First 6 games .000 6- 6 17 5 0 0 .000 5 2 7 .292 2 3-3
Last 17 games .304 17-17 56 6 17 14 .429 8 4 10 .426 3 5-5

Although Mikey Reynolds career-long hit streak was snapped at 22 games in the Aggies’ 2-1 win over Ole Miss last Sunday, he still has an impressive string going. Reynolds has reached base safely via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in all 25 games this season. Reynolds, who has hit safely in 23 of 25 games, reached by way of a walk in the season opener vs UIC and reached by way both a hit-by-pitch and an intentional walk in the first game of the doubleheader sweep of Ole Miss. He is hitting .438 on the season with a .495 on-base percentage, 19 runs, six doubles, 12 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Cole Lankford has been playing his best collegiate baseball as of late. In his last 13 games (the Aggies’ last 14 games), Lankford is batting .389 (21-for-54) with seven multiple hit games, five doubles, two triples, one home run and 11 RBI. In the weekend series at No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, he went 6-for-13 with five RBI. In the last five games, Lankford has three 3-hit games, going 3-for-5 each time. 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.

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 306-161-2 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.

This season, eight pitchers have taken the mound as Aggies for the first time, including three true freshmen. The eight pitchers have combined to allow 15 earned runs on 59 hits and 33 walks over 79.2 innings. They own a 7-2 record with seven saves, a 1.69 ERA and 68 strikeouts. True freshman Grayson Long leads the group, posting a 3-0 mark with a 2.35 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 23.0 innings. Redshirt freshman Matt Kent is 2-1 in 12 appearances, racking up 14.2 frames, with five runs for a 3.07 ERA. Junior Jason Jester is 2-0 with seven saves and a 0.46 ERA. He hasn’t yielded a run in 19.2 innings of work, scattering nine hits and four walks while striking out 20. True freshman AJ Minter (3.2 IP) and sophomore transfer Nate Sorenson (0.1 IP) are unscathed on the year. Sophomore transfer Zach Brashear has allowed two unearned runs over 5.1 innings and redshirt freshman Ty Schlottmann has allowed one unearned run over 2.2 innings. True freshman Andrew Vinson has allowed three earned runs in 9.1 innings of work.

Still testing things out to find the solid lineup for the meat of the season, head coach Rob Childress has yet to duplicate a lineup in 2013, using 23 different batting orders in 25 games. Krey Bratsen and Mikey Reynolds are the only two players to start all 25 games.

The trio of Reynolds, Bratsen and Allemand are also the only two to bat in the same spot in the order more than 13 times with Reynolds leading off all 25 games, Bratsen batting in the No. 2 spot 23 times and Blake Allemand batting in the No. 3 spot 14 times. The Aggies have had nine different batters hit the No. 7 spot and eight different batters hit in the No. 6 spot. Allemand has hit in six different spots in the order.

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 127-85-3 (.598) against current members of the SEC, including 3-0 vs Alabama, 38-29-1 vs Arkansas, 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, 0-1 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.

Batters leading off an inning are hitting .335 (61-for-182) with 11 doubles, two triples, one home run and a .418 on-base percentage. Daniel Mengden has a .632 on-base percentage, going 7-for-14 (.500) with four walks and one hit-by-pitch to lead the way. Jace Statum owns a .625 on-base percentage going 4-for-10 (.400) at the plate with six walks in 16 plate appearances. Mikey Reynolds owns a .533 on-base percentage, going 19-for-40 (.486) with three walks and two HBP. Krey Bratsen also owns .400 average, going 6-for-15 in his 15 leadoff plate appearances.

Texas A&M pitchers have yet to allow an earned run in ninth innings of games this season. In 19.0 innings of ninth inning work, the bullpen has allowed one unearned run on 13 hits and seven walks while striking out 16. Jason Jester leads the way with 10.2 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Andrew Vinson worked 3.2 blank frames, scattering three hits and two walks while striking out five.

Jason Jester has been lights out as the Aggies’ closer this season. He is 2-0 with seven saves on the season. He has allowed just one earned run in 19.2 innings of work over 14 appearances, scattering nine hits and three walks while striking out 20. He is holding opponents to a .1132 batting average, including just one extra-base hit.

The Aggies are on pace for a school-record sacrifice bunts. With 34 bunts through 25 games, A&M is on pace for 76 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 10 sacrifice bunts. Charlie Curl has added seven and Blake Allemand has five.

Mikey Reynolds entered the week of play ranked 13th in the nation in batting average (.438) and third in hits (42). Krey Bratsen ranked third in the nation with 10 sacrifice bunts and ninth with 0.40 sacrifice bunts per game. Jason Jester ranked fourth in the nation with seven saves.

As a team, the Aggies ranked fourth in the nation with 34 sacrifice bunts to start the week.

Texas A&M returns to the road for a three-game series at South Carolina from Thursday to Saturday. Thursday’s contest will be aired on ESPNU.

Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE - Tuesday, 6:35 pm
TELEVISION - Fox Sports Southwest (Will Johnson, play-by-play and Matt Simon, Color)
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South, play-by-play)
RANKINGS - Texas A&M - 13th (CB)/30th NCBWA • UTA - unranked
SERIES HISTORY - Texas A&M leads 25-8
SERIES STREAKS - UT Arlington is on a one-game streak
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP - Rafael Pineda (Jr., RHP, 1-2, 4.86) vs. Keegan Hucul (Jr., LHP, 0-0, 4.82)

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