Aggies Host Auburn for Weekend Series

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Maroon and White have played well on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park in 2013, sporting a 15-3 record and enter the homestand with a 10-game home win streak. The Aggies are returning to league play where they are 5-3 and looking to build momentum following a weekend at South Carolina that saw them get swept in a series for the first time since April 2012.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (19-11, 5-4 SEC) vs AUBURN TIGERS (17-12, 1-8, SEC)
Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park (6,100) • College Station, Texas
SCHEDULE - Friday, 6:35 pm • Saturday, 2:05 pm • Sunday, 1:05 pm
RADIO - WTAW-AM 1620 (Dave South, play-by-play)
LIVE VIDEO - (with premium subscription)
RANKINGS - A&M - 18th (CB) • AU- unranked
SERIES HISTORY – First Meeting

• Double Play Equipment Drive: Diamond Darlings will be collecting new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to be donated to the Bryan and College Station Boys and Girls Club.

• Double Play Equipment Drive: Diamond Darlings will be collecting new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to be donated to the Bryan and College Station Boys and Girls Club.
• First 2000 fans will receive FREE Aggie Baseball sunglasses presented by Monograms and More
• Have A Catch Saturday: Fans are invited to play catch on the field for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game.

• Double Play Equipment Drive: Diamond Darlings will be collecting new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to be donated to the Bryan and College Station Boys and Girls Club.
• Kids Run the Bases presented by the Pool Guy
• Junior Aggie Club members get in FREE
• Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Up to 4 children (ages 12 and under) may get in FREE with the purchase of an accompanying adult ticket.

• Friday - Daniel Mengden (So., RHP, 4-1, 2.14 ERA) vs Conner Kendrick (Jr., LHP, 2-1, 1.80 ERA)
• Saturday - Grayson Long (Fr., RHP, 3-0, 2.51 ERA) vs Michael O’Neal (Jr., LHP, 5-2, 2.28 ERA)
• Sunday - Rafael Pineda (Jr., RHP, 2-2, 2.89 ERA) vs TBA

Although Mikey Reynolds career-long hit streak was snapped at 22 games in the Aggies’ 2-1 win over Ole Miss on March 24, he still has an impressive string going. Reynolds has reached base safely via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in all 30 games this season. Reynolds, who has hit safely in 27 of 30 games, reached by way of a walk in the season opener vs UIC, reached by way both a hit-by-pitch and an intentional walk in the first game of the doubleheader sweep of Ole Miss and reached via a walk in the series finale at South Carolina. He is hitting .402 on the season with a .463 on-base percentage, 22 runs, seven doubles, 16 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Cole Lankford has been playing his best collegiate baseball as of late. In his last 18 games (the Aggies’ last 19 games), Lankford is batting .397 (29-for-73) with nine multiple hit games, five doubles, two triples, one home run and 14 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. He batted 5-for-11 against South Carolina, including three hits in the series opener.

This marks the first-ever meeting between Texas A&M and Auburn. Auburn is one of three SEC teams A&M had not played before the season, along with Georgia and Vanderbilt.

Auburn enters Tuesday’s contest with a 17-12 overall record and a 1-8 mark in league play. The Tigers are hitting .266 as a team lead by Garrett Cooper who is batting .333 (30-for-90) with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs and 20 RBI. Jordan Ebert is batting .309 1ith three doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Ryan Tella is the top run producer with 22 runs and 24 RBI to go with a .284 batting average, seven doubles, one triple and one home run.

As a team, the Tigers have a 3.41 ERA and have registered 163 strikeouts in 259.0 innings. Conner Kendrick was in the bullpen for 10 appearances before being moved to the Friday night starter role. He is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA, two saves and 34 strikeouts in 30.0 innings. Michael O’Neal has the most starts on the mound for Auburn, going 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. Justin Camp has worked a 3-0 record in nine appearances out of the bullpen, posting a 2.38 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 22.2 innings.

Auburn has four College World Series appearances, including 1967, 1978, 1994 and 1997. The Tigers’ last NCAA Regional appearance came in 2010 when they hosted Clemson, Jacksonville State and Southern Miss in a regional that Clemson prevailed in. Auburn’s only Super Regional appearance came in 1999, losing two games at Florida State.

Auburn boasts 47 former players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. The group is headlined by two-time American League MVP Frank Thomas, two-sport superstar Bo Jackson and three-time All-Star pitcher Tim Hudson.

After going 0-for-17 in his first six games (the Aggies first eight games), Allemand has batted .293 (22-for-75) with four doubles, one home run and 14 RBI in the last 22 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 21 games is .411 with 11 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 .293 22-22 75 9 22 14 .387 11 4 12 .411 4 5-5

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 six games. Since the second game of the Sunday Ole Miss doubleheader, Wood is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with five runs, two doubles and three RBI. He also owns a .565 on-base percentage and 6.00 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 .500 6- 6 20 5 10 3 .600 3 0 5 .565 2 1-1

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 127-88-3 (.589) 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, 0-4 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.

Prior to the arrival of head coach Rob Childress, Texas A&M had never appeared in the NCAA Tournament more than four consecutive years. Hosting an NCAA Regional in 2012 extended the Aggies current string to six consecutive years, something that had never happened before in the program’s 112 year history.

Childress has led the Aggies to the postseason each of the last six seasons, topping the previous-high water mark of four-straight trips, a feat that had happened only twice before at Texas A&M. Former head coach Tom Chandler led his squad to the NCAA Regionals each season from 1975 to 1978 and 11 years later the Aggies enjoyed a similar four-year run from 1986-89 under the direction of head coach Mark Johnson.

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.

The Aggies own a 15-3 record in home games during the 2013 campaign, led by a pitching staff which boasts a 1.66 ERA. Grayson Long leads the way with a 3-0 record and 1.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Rafael Pineda is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 26.0 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 .394 with 11 runs, 11 RBI and nine steals in 18 home games. Mengden is batting .310 with 11 runs, one double, one triple, two home runs and nine RBI in 16 games. Cole Lankford is hitting .317 with four doubles, three triples, one home run and 13 RBI. Krey Bratsen has 11 runs, three doubles, 12 RBI and nine steals.
The Aggies are 8-0 in midweek action this season, winning the games by a combined margin of 50-16. The pitching staff owns a 1.88 ERA, holding foes to a .194 batting average. Grayson Long (3-0), Corey Ray (2-0) and Rafael Pineda (1-0) have accounted for all the midweek starts on the mound. Troy Stein is hitting .500 (6-for-12) with two triples. Jonathan Moroney (.412), Mikey Reynolds (.371) and Daniel Mengden (.367) are all hitting .350 or better. Cole Lankford is hitting .320 with two doubles, two triples and eight RBI. Mengden and Mitchell Nau have seven RBI apiece. Stein (.571) and Blake Allemand (.529) both have on-base percentages above .500.
Texas A&M pitchers have yet to allow an earned run in ninth innings of games this season. In 21.0 innings of ninth inning work, the bullpen has allowed one unearned run on 14 hits and seven walks while striking out 18. Jason Jester leads the way with 10.2 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Andrew Vinson worked 5.2 blank frames, scattering four hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Jason Jester has been lights out as the Aggies’ closer this season, going a perfect 7-for-7 in save situations. He is 2-1 with seven saves and a 1.66 ERA on the season. He has allowed just four earned runs in 21.2 innings of work over 14 appearances, scattering 12 hits and four walks while striking out 21. He is holding opponents to a .156 batting average.

The Aggies are on pace for a school-record sacrifice bunts. With 38 bunts through 29 games, A&M is on pace for 73 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 11 sacrifice bunts. He had 19 as a freshman and eight as a sophomore. Charlie Curl has added eight and Blake Allemand has five.

Batters leading off an inning are hitting .342 (75-for-219) with 12 doubles, three triples, three home runs and a .426 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 .509 on-base percentage, going 20-for-46 (.435) with five walks and two HBP. Krey Bratsen also owns .444 average, going 8-for-18 in his 18 leadoff plate appearances.

Sophomore Daniel Mengden is making his 12th career start, his eighth weekend start and his first-ever “Friday Night” start ... He leads the Aggies with four victories ... Last week, he did not factor in the decision against No. 13 South Carolina, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three over 6.0 innings ... Two 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.

Grayson Long is making his sixth career start and his second weekend start, both SEC starts ... He’s been potent in a starting role to date, going 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 25 strikeouts over 26.1 innings in his five prior starts ... Last week, he allowed just one hit in 5.2 innings in a no-decision against No. 13 South Carolina ... Two weeks ago, he went 5.1 scoreless innings with two hits, two walks and two strikeouts to earn a win against Dallas Baptist ... He also earned a win against Prairie View A&M (5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) and Texas Southern (5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K).

Rafael Pineda is making his 22nd career start, but his first weekend start since the Cal State Fullerton 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 ... 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 ... 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 6-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 15 appearances, including 14 starts.
2012 5-1 2.71 15/15 0 83.0 75 33 25 16 44 .237
2013 2-2 2.89 8/6 0 28.0 27 12 9 8 15 .265
Career 7-3 2.76 23/21 0 111.0 102 45 34 24 69 .244

Both the Aggies and their opponents are finding the first inning to be the most fertile frame for scoring runs. Thirty of Texas A&M’s 145 runs (20.7%) have come in the first inning. The only other inning with over 20 runs for the Aggies is the fourth inning, with 22. Opponents have scored 23 of their 104 runs (22.1%) in the first inning. The fifth inning is the only other inning for opponents to have over 15 runs is the fifth inning, with 16.

The Aggies continue the eight-game homestand with a 6:35 pm contest against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Blue Bell Park on Tuesday.

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